Most people who have had cause to visit hospitals will have seen people smoking outside. This seems an odd situation to have, especially since smoking is associated with so many serious health conditions.
But now, smoking on hospital grounds looks set to be banned in Wales. Many hospitals in Wales and the rest of the UK have already implemented such bans, but legislation in Wales looks set to make this illegal. At present, most hospitals enacting a ban do so based on their own decision-making. In some cases, however (and perhaps in many), the bans have proven to be hard to enforce with action. This has left defiant smokers deciding to smoke outside the entrances to hospital departments – something non-smokers are unhappy about, and for good reason.
Coming in summer 2019
The new legislation will officially make smoking on hospital grounds, whether by the entrance or elsewhere, against the law. As such, Wales will be ahead of England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland in bringing such a ban into law. Welsh Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething, spoke of the “remarkable culture change” that has occurred in recent years. He also mentioned “overwhelming public support” for the change in legislation.
What about vapers?
Some are concerned that vaping might also come under the ban. However, the Act refers to tobacco products. Since electronic cigarettes do not contain tobacco, anyone who tries to vape would not be breaking the law.
With that said, no vaper can be certain they would be allowed to vape while on hospital grounds. As we mentioned above, the current stance is for individual hospitals to decide whether they should ban smoking and vaping. While the new legislation looks set to make the situation clear regarding smoking, the same will not apply to vaping.
That means checking the rules enforced at each individual hospital – and that applies across the UK, not just in Wales. While one hospital may allow both patients and visitors to vape on the grounds, another one a few miles away may have a ban in place.
So, while the law will make the ban on smoking clear from next year, the same cannot be said of vaping. It is hoped that many hospitals will allow it, since anyone looking to quit smoking may run into problems if staying in hospital for a few days for some reason. Being able to vape outside would be a big step in the right direction in making it easier for them to quit.
Indeed, some hospitals have permitted vaping in specific areas, including a couple in Suffolk and in Essex, England. In those cases, smoking rates have dropped sharply, indicating there is good cause for letting people vape where they can.
What are your thoughts on the forthcoming smoking ban on hospital grounds and in other public places in Wales? Do you think this is another step in the right direction to encourage more people to quit smoking and switch to vaping? Let us know in the comments section below.