A ban on smoking in outdoor grounds of hospitals, schools and playgrounds in Wales has moved a step closer.
Health Secretary Vaughan Gething has launched a consultation with the ban planned for summer 2019 and those who break it could face a fine.
Voluntary bans are currently in place in some school and hospital grounds and also in public playgrounds.
If the new law is passed, it will mean patients and visitors will have to leave hospital grounds to smoke.
The consultation, which will help shape the final legislation, is also seeking views on plans to introduce additional changes to the existing smoking ban, which did not include hospital grounds or playgrounds.
- Placing an 18 month time limit on the permission to designate a room for smoking within mental health units. The time limit would allow managers to work towards the removal of indoor smoking facilities and designate outdoor areas instead.
- A similar time limit on the permission to designate a bedroom in hotels, guesthouses, inns, hostels and members’ clubs.
The changes will be introduced under the Public Health (Wales) Act 2017, which was passed by Assembly Members last year.
Mr Gething launched the consultation at Glan Clwyd Hospital in Denbighshire. The hospital has received complaints about people ignoring the current voluntary ban in place, so mothers visiting the maternity unit have to bring babies in and out past people who are smoking.
This is understandable but how big an area do we need
The ban is part of moves to change the culture around smoking, by making it seen as unacceptable where children might be influenced or in places where good health is being promoted.
Mr Gething said:
“We have seen significant changes to the attitudes to smoking since 2007.
“Back then we received some resistance to change, but we have seen a remarkable culture change and I am pleased our plan to extend smoke-free areas to outdoor public spaces has received overwhelming public support.”
“This is another step in the right direction to de-normalise smoking in Wales.
But Simon Clark of smokers’ group Forest said:
“Smoking outside poses no threat to public health, nor is there evidence that children start smoking because they witness complete strangers lighting up in public.”
He also said threatening hospital patients, visitors and staff with fines was “despicable” when some of them may be at their most vulnerable.
I find it hard to agree with a Forest spokesperson as I have always considered them to be the enemy but there is avalid argument here .
We are dealing with addicts here and the sight of men and women in dressing gowns being forced to walk 100 of yards to the boarder of exclusion zone is disturbing.
They include (and remember we are dealing with parients here)
Physical Symptoms. During the quitting process people should consider the following physical symptoms of withdrawal as they were recuperating from a disease and treat them accordingly as they would any physical symptoms:
- Tingling in the hands and feet
- Intestinal disorders (cramps, nausea)
- Cold symptoms as the lungs begin to clear (sore throats, coughing, and other signs of colds and respiratory problem)
Mental and Emotional Symptoms.Tension and craving build up during periods of withdrawal, sometimes to a nearly intolerable point. One European study found that the incidence of workplace accidents increases on No Smoking Day, a day in which up to 2 million smokers either reduce the amount they smoke or abstain altogether.
Nearly every moderate to heavy smoker experiences more than one of the following strong emotional and mental responses to withdrawal.
- Feelings of being an infant: temper tantrums, intense needs, feelings of dependency, a state of near paralysis.
- Mental confusion
- Depression is common in the short and long term. In the short term it may mimic the feelings of grief felt when a loved one is lost. As foolish as it sounds, a smoker should plan on a period of actual mourning in order to get through the early withdrawal depression.
Do we really want to put hospitalised people who are mobile through this for want of a cigarette.
Ideally we should reduce the number of smokers to zero in Wales, but we need thin more about rewarding people for not smoking and not punishment.