MSPs consider plans to introduce new penalties for smoking outside of hospital buildings

Legally enforceable no-smoking areas could be introduced around hospital buildings in Scotland under new proposals being considered by MSPs.

Smoking is the most significant cause of ill-health in Scotland.
Smoking is the most significant cause of ill-health in Scotland.

A consultation has been launched which will ask what action could be taken in order to crack down on people who smoke on hospital grounds.

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A law has already been passed by Parliament to establish no-smoking areas outside of hospital buildings, making it an offence to smoke there.

However, MSPs are now considering what penalties could be imposed to ensure that more people abide by the policy.

The consultation will consider three particular issues - the distance forming the perimeter of no-smoking areas outside hospital buildings, the wording of no-smoking notices and how they're displayed, and whether there are any specific areas of land or buildings on hospital grounds where there is no need for a no-smoking area.

The use of Nicotine Vapour Products (NVPs), including electronic cigarettes, on hospital grounds outside of no-smoking areas will also be considered as part of the consultation.

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said hospitals must be seen as open and accessible places.

"The smoke-free grounds policy has had some impact but has not been sufficient to end the practice of smoking around hospitals," he said.

"Smoking remains the most significant cause of ill health in Scotland - leading to up to 100,000 hospitalisations per year and more than 9,000 premature deaths.

"Our hospitals need to be seen as accessible, open places which promote good health and lifestyle choices. Every aspect of life there should reflect that."