Wales set to be the first country in the UK to extend smoking ban to outdoor areas

Wales is set to be the first country in the UK to extend its smoking ban to outdoor areas.

Under the new plans, smoke-free areas are expected to be in place in hospital grounds, school grounds and playgrounds by summer 2019.

The Welsh Government says the move will protect non-smokers from second-hand smoke and de-normalise smoking for children and young people.

The changes will make it illegal to smoke in the hospital grounds, with legal backing for fines to be issued to smokers breaking the rules.

Health Secretary Vaughan Gething said he recently visited the maternity unit at Glan Clwyd Hospital, where staff told him they had received complaints from mothers about people smoking outside the hospital when they enter and leave with their young babies.

I am proud that Wales continues to be at the forefront of UK action to reduce smoking and prevent young people from taking it up in the first place.

Vaughan Gething AM, Health Secretary
Credit: PA Images

A hospital is no place for smoking and the Health Board is determined to create a smoke-free environment. We receive numerous complaints about people smoking around the hospital, particularly near the main entrance. We need to find a way of ensuring our site is smoke free, while also supporting more patients, visitors and staff to quit.

Teresa Owen, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board

But campaigners have criticised the plans.

Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, said: “Threatening hospital patients, visitors and staff with fines when some of them may be at their most vulnerable is despicable. What’s wrong with a designated smoking area?

“Targeting patients for smoking in the open air also discriminates against those who are infirm or less mobile.

“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.

“We don’t advocate smoking in playgrounds or school grounds but people should be allowed to use their common sense without further interference from a government that has nothing better to do than criminalise ordinary working people.”

The changes to the smoke-free legislation will be introduced under the Public Health (Wales) Act 2017, which was passed by Assembly Members last year.