Smoke-free legislation making it illegal to smoke on hospital grounds comes into force in Wales today (1 March).
The landmark law, the first in the UK, means that all hospital grounds, school grounds, public playgrounds and the outdoor areas of day-care and child minding settings in Wales will be required to be smoke-free.
Mental Health and Wellbeing Minister Eluned Morgan said it was a ‘proud day for Wales’ and would ‘benefit the health of future generations’.
The law is being introduced to protect the public’s health, both by aiming to discourage people from starting smoking in the first place and to support those trying to quit.
By introducing smoke-free legislation, it is hoped to protect more people from being exposed to harmful second-hand smoke and reduce the chances of children starting smoking.
Anyone found breaking the law could face a fine of up to £100.
In an effort to enforce the legislation and raise awareness of the smoke-free requirements, an audio-speaker system with a push button pad is being installed at entrances throughout the newly built Grange University Hospital in Cwmbran and the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport.
The audio speakers will allow anyone who witnesses smoking on site to anonymously press the button, which will play a recorded message to remind people that smoking is not permitted.
Smoke-free enforcement officers employed by the health board will also be patrolling hospital grounds, speaking with any smokers and asking them to stub out their cigarettes.
Signage informing patients, visitors and staff about the new legislation has also been installed.
The new laws will also cover spaces where children and young people spend their time – such as school grounds and public playgrounds, as well as the outdoor areas of children’s day-care and child minding settings. It is hoped that banning smoking in these places will help to denormalise smoking.
Matt Lloyd, one of Aneurin Bevan University Health Board’s Smoke-Free Enforcement Officers, has been speaking with smokers about the upcoming legislation:
“The majority of smokers stop smoking when I approach them. I then remind them about our smoke-free environment policy and the new law. If somebody refuses to stop smoking, I talk to them about why we have the policy and the law. If they are a patient, I can contact their ward manager who will offer them nicotine replacement therapy to help with cravings. It is everybody’s responsibility to support the smoke-free policy and up-coming law to make sure we offer our staff, patients and visitors a safe and positive experience when using our NHS services.”
Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Eluned Morgan, said:
“We are immensely proud to have brought into force this law today making hospital grounds, school grounds, playgrounds and outdoor care settings for children smoke-free in Wales.
“The law will not only help smokers quit, but it will also discourage others from starting smoking in the first place. We’ve seen the impact of the indoor smoking ban and we hope this will be similarly successful.
“This legislation will benefit the health of future generations in Wales, as fewer children will be exposed to smoking and, we hope, fewer will take it up themselves.
“We need to do everything we can to combat the harmful effects of smoking. There are resources and support services available from Help Me Quit for those looking to give up smoking, and I hope our action will be the catalyst to a healthier, smoke-free Wales for years to come.”