smokefree hospitals

Smokefree hospital grounds promote a healthy, clean environment for everyone. As hospitals spend their time treating sick people, denormalising one of the biggest causes of ill health and premature death in Wales is crucial.

Position Statement

ASH Wales supports smokefree hospitals grounds and health care settings as these institutions have a duty of care to all who attend their sites. Whether they are patients, visitors or staff, supporting behaviours to improve the health of everyone must be at the fore. Allowing smoking fails to address or discourage a habit which will kill 1 in 2 long-term users through ill health and preventable diseases.

Wales will be leading the way and be an exemplar to the rest of the UK as it becomes the first country to implement smokefree legislation across every site (by summer 2019)1.

Healthcare

Summary

Strengthening the laws around smoking in public in Wales will further protect non-smokers from second-hand smoke and de-normalise smoking for children and young people.

Smoking is still the number one cause of preventable deaths in the UK with 100,000 dying annually due to its affects, including 28% of all cancer deaths.2 In England there were 454,700 hospital admissions attributable to smoking3, whilst in Wales an average of 5,388 smoking-related deaths and 26,489 smoking-related hospital admissions occurred.

Patients are a key audience for quitting smoking as there are additional advantages to them post-treatment, including shorter hospital stays and fewer complications.4

The cost of smoking to the Welsh NHS specifically is likely to be around £302 million per year but could be as high as £436.6 million per year.

Second-hand smoke poses a health risk to all those around as smoke often drifts into buildings through entrances, windows and vents meant to supply clean air to wards. Hospitals are often home to vulnerable, poorly people, including premature babies, who need protection from poisonous smoke. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) conducted a review of evidence on second-hand smoke and found exposure to other people’s smoke increases the risk of lung cancer in non-smokers by 20-30% and coronary heart disease by 25-35%.5

Public Health Wales Act

In July 2017, the Public Health Wales Act was passed by the Welsh Government. Included in this Act was the measure to ban smoking on hospital grounds, thereby making it against the law to smoke within any grounds that adjoin a hospital or are used/occupied by a hospital in Wales.

It was announced in May 2018 that Wales will be the first country in the UK to implement outdoor smokefree legislation when it rolls out the Public Health Wales Act by summer 2019. Within the regulations specific to smokefree hopitals, there is a remit for “The person in charge of a hospital (to) designate any area in the grounds as being an area in which smoking is to be permitted.”6

In 2017 we commissioned a YouGov survey which asked; “How strongly, if at all, do you agree or disagree with the following statement? …Smoking should be banned in hospital grounds” and 71% of respondents agreed. The equivalent figure for smokers was 27%.7

The sign which covers the height of the University Hospital Wales, Cardiff
The sign which covers the height of the University Hospital Wales, Cardiff

Further Reading

1Smoking statistics: Illness and death. ASH England. November 2014.

2Statistics on Smoking in England 2015. Health and Social Care Information Centre. May 2015.

3Welsh Government and Public Health Wales Observatory (2012). Tobacco and health in Wales.

4Tobacco smoke and involuntary smoking. IARC Monographs on the evaluation of carcinogenic risks to humans. Vol 83. Lyon, France, 2004.

5Smoking cessation in secondary care: acute, maternity and mental health services. NICE. November 2013.

6Smoking and surgery. ASH England. March 2013.

7YouGov survey commissioned by ASH Wales. Total sample size was 1120 adults (aged 18+). Fieldwork was undertaken between 16th February and 19th March 2017.