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Hospital smoking ban "inhumane" and "impossible to enforce"

Tue 4th August, 2015

Forest has urged the Scottish Government not to ban smoking on hospital grounds and to adopt "light touch regulation" with regard to electronic cigarettes.

Responding to a Scottish Parliament committee consultation that closes tomorrow (August 5), the group said:

“NHS staff have a duty of care to protect people’s health but that doesn’t include the right to nag, cajole or bully smokers to quit.

“Many smokers are in hospital for reasons that have nothing to do with smoking. Why should they be told they can’t nip outside and have a cigarette in the open air?

“Tobacco is a legal product and a lot of people smoke to relieve stress. A cigarette break at work or while they are in hospital is something they look forward to.

“It’s heartless and inhumane to ban patients from smoking outside hospitals. It’s also impossible to enforce without CCTV cameras, wardens to monitor the grounds, and the threat of court action. Is that a sensible use of taxpayers' money?"

Citing a Populus poll commissioned by Forest in June (2015), the group said:

"Respondents were asked to rate government priorities for the NHS. Investing in new doctors and nurses was the highest priority.

"Addressing response times at A&E was the second highest ranked priority, and improving general waiting times was third.

"Of the ten issues listed, tackling smoking was the lowest priority, behind tackling obesity and alcohol misuse.

"Enough is enough. We get it. Smoking isn't good you, but banning smoking on hospital grounds demonstrates zero empathy for people, whether they be patients, visitors or staff, who find a hospital environment stressful enough without the threat of prosecution for lighting up outside."

Forest' submission to the Health and Sport Committee consultation also called for "light touch regulation" on nicotine vapour products. According to the group:

"Excessive regulation on the sale and advertising of e-cigarettes will inevitably compromise the ability of businesses to market and sell a product that could have a significant impact on public health if it helps smokers switch from combustible products to e-cigarettes.

"If the Scottish Government is genuinely interested in harm reduction it would encourage smokers to switch to e-cigarettes. Excessive regulations on advertising will undoubtedly stop or reduce the rate at which that is currently happening.

"The inability to effectively market their products will also impact on the development by manufacturers of new and better nicotine vapour devices. Light touch regulation has to be the way forward."

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