In Scotland we have achieved considerable success in our ambition to create a tobacco-free generation by 2034. Among the most notable success was the introduction of offences for smoking in enclosed public spaces in 2006. We have an international reputation for pioneering this sort of public health measure and we now propose to take another step forward.
This consultation paves the way for extending the 2006 ban on smoking inside buildings to ban it around hospital buildings as well.
Smoking around Scotland’s hospitals continues to present a nuisance and a potential health risk to patients, visitors and staff. The sight of people smoking around the buildings is often the first thing people see on any visit to a hospital, and this has been the subject of many complaints to health boards and to government.
Our hospitals need to be seen as accessible and open places which promote good health and lifestyle choices. Every aspect of daily life there should reflect that.
Allowing people to smoke around hospital buildings sends out an all too clear picture of tacit support for what is a significant cause of preventable illness and death. Smoking remains the most significant cause of disease in Scotland – with up to 100,000 hospitalisations per year as a result and over 9,000 premature deaths caused by smoking. One in four of all deaths in Scotland are still attributable to tobacco.
NHS Scotland took a bold step in 2015 by adopting a smoke-free grounds policy across all its hospitals. Each health board has a smoke-free policy which asks people to respect patients, staff and visitors by not smoking anywhere on hospital grounds.
The smoke-free grounds policy has had some impact, but has not been sufficient to end the practice of smoking around hospitals. Following a consultation on the continuing problem, the Scottish Ministers introduced a Bill to the Scottish Parliament which included two new offences: allowing people to smoke around hospital buildings; and smoking around hospital buildings. The Health (Tobacco, Nicotine etc. and Care)(Scotland) Bill was passed in 2016 and provides for the new offences and gives Ministers powers to regulate in respect of some key details.
The Scottish Government has worked with health boards and others to develop practical proposals for an effective set of regulations that will persuade people to respect others and not smoke around hospital buildings. This consultation seeks views on these details to allow the regulations to be finalised and laid in the Scottish Parliament.
Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing