Hospital smoking ban plan 'petty', Holyrood committee told
Plans to make smoking in hospital grounds a statutory offence have been branded "inhumane, petty and vindictive" by a pro-smoking group.
Simon Clark from Forest made the remark while giving evidence to Holyrood's health committee.
Hospitals have banned smoking in their grounds, but it is being flouted.
Sheila Duffy, from anti-smoking group Ash Scotland, said in a 2014 survey, 73% of Scottish adults agreed smoking around hospitals should be outlawed.
She added that smoking continued to cause the early deaths of 13,000 people.
Mr Clark told MSPs: "Going to hospital as a patient or a visitor can be a very stressful experience. It's also quite stressful for many members of staff.
"To ban smoking on all hospital grounds, we think, is totally inhumane, it's totally vindictive, it's petty, far pettier actually than banning smoking in pubs. At least people can still go outside.
"To extend it to entire hospital sites, we think, is absolutely outrageous."
Mr Clark agreed that smokers congregating outside entrances to hospital buildings was "not a nice sight" but suggested designated shelters or a 100-yard no-smoking zone would be more appropriate.
However, Ms Duffy said the "myth" that smoking relieved stress was something perpetuated by tobacco companies.
In her evidence to the committee, she said: "I think the aim in Scotland is to put tobacco out of sight, out of mind and out of fashion, and as part of that, of course, you have to be compassionate with people who are used to smoking and who may have a physical addiction, and the NHS is very good at offering all kinds of support to people to try and manage that."
Linda Bauld, professor of health policy at the University of Stirling, also came before MSPs who are discussing the Health (Tobacco, Nicotine etc. and Care) (Scotland) Bill.
She said: "I think that most of us would agree that having smoking in the very place where people go to get well, even if it's outside the building, is not compatible with the NHS. We are spending millions of pounds trying to treat smoking-related disease.
"Although I welcome this in principle, it's not clear who's going to enforce this extension."
Andy Morrison from the New Nicotine Alliance (NNA) said it was important to ensure advertising of e-cigarettes was aimed at current smokers to get them off cigarettes . "It must not be aimed at non-smokers or children," he added..
What's the current approach by Scottish health boards?
|Scotland health board smoking ban policies|
|Health board||Smoke-free grounds date||E-cigs ban?|
|NHS Ayrshire and Arran||In progress||Yes|
|NHS Dumfries and Galloway||31 March 2015||Yes|
|NHS Forth Valley||2007 and 2010||Yes|
|NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde||2013||Yes|
|NHS Highland||2008 and 2015||Yes|
|NHS Lothian||In progress||Restricted|
|NHS Tayside||2006||Under review|
|NHS Western Isles||2013||Yes|