Section 4 - Nicotine Vapour Products on hospital grounds
In addition to questions relating to the specifics of the 2016 Act, the Scottish Government seeks views on proposals to ask NHS boards to amend their smoking policies to permit the use of Nicotine Vapour Products (NVPs), including electronic cigarettes, on hospital grounds but outwith the proposed no-smoking area.
The intention of the new offences is to eliminate smoking around buildings where continued smoking causes most inconvenience and harm. However, NHS Scotland already has a policy in place which asks people not to smoke anywhere on hospital grounds. The aim of the new offence is not only to move smoking away from the building but to remove smoking completely from hospital grounds. Allowing smokers to vape on hospital grounds could reduce the ‘need’ to smoke there for many people.
There is now a consensus statement on the use of NVPs that has been drawn up by a range of signatories including public health professionals – such as the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, academics – the universities of Edinburgh and Stirling, health lobbying groups - such as ASH Scotland and Cancer Research UK, and many others. It states that, based on current evidence, vaping e-cigarettes is less harmful than smoking tobacco. Although “not risk free”, these devices pose “a much lower risk than tobacco” and are useful to public health as a potential route towards stopping smoking.
Given the potential of NVPs in harm reduction and as a means to help people quit tobacco products, to ban their use on hospital grounds would be contrary to the ethos of the consensus statement. In addition, permitting use of a less harmful device for those smokers who may struggle to cope without nicotine during potentially stressful visits to hospital would be in line with the NHS’s compassionate approach: that it appreciates smoking is, for some people, a difficult habit to break but advises people to seek support to quit.
Therefore, we propose that NHS boards should be asked to amend their smoking policies to permit the use of NVPs as an alternative to smoking on hospital grounds but only beyond the no-smoking area outside hospital buildings.
|Question 7||Do you support the proposal that the use of NVPs should be allowed as an alternative to smoking on hospital grounds but not within the no-smoking area outside hospital buildings?|
|Please tick one||Yes||No||Don’t Know|
|If you have any comments on the proposal please record these here.|