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Doctors group wants hospital smoking ban extended

By Gavin Musgrove

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The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh has said that banning smoking on hospital grounds could protect patients, staff and visitors from the harmful effects of tobacco smoke.

The College, which represents thousands of doctors working at Scottish hospitals, was responding to a Scottish Government consultation which proposes 15 metre no-smoking boundaries outside hospital buildings in Scotland.

In particular, a ban could help protect those who are ill or recovering in hospital, because they are more vulnerable to passive smoking.

Second hand tobacco smoke can make its way inside hospitals through open windows and ventilation shafts, according to research.

Professor Derek Bell
Professor Derek Bell

The College has therefore urged the Scottish Government to introduce no-smoking boundaries, with clear and visible signage to encourage people to respect smoke-free areas. In addition, comprehensive support and training must be given to hospital staff, so that they feel able to confidently communicate and enforce smoke free areas.

Vaping should be treated in the same way as tobacco throughout NHS Scotland premises, the College has said.

In Ontario, Canada, people cannot smoke or vape within nine metres of any entrance or exit of a public or private hospital, psychiatric facility, long-term care home or independent health facility.

Professor Derek Bell, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh said: “This College is in strong support of a ban on smoking around hospital buildings. We have led the way on action on smoking, setting up ASH Scotland and campaigning to make it an offence to smoke in enclosed public spaces in Scotland.

“Our aim is to work with the Scottish Government, health boards and services, local authorities and our colleagues in the SCOT coalition to improve public health – and we think that no-smoking boundaries outside hospital buildings could help protect the most vulnerable patients.

“The College believes that e-cigarettes should be included in any legislation relating to a smoking ban outside hospital buildings and on hospital grounds. There is strong precedent for including e-cigarettes, as many organisations, including health boards, local authorities and chains of cafes and pubs have introduced their own policies banning vaping on their premises.

“The College welcomes the fact that the Scottish Government is consulting on this issue. We will continue to make the case for banning smoking on hospital grounds as this really could protect patients, staff and visitors from the harmful effects of tobacco smoke.”

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