Wales is Getting Ready to Ban Smoking in Some Outdoor Areas

By Tom Pritchard on at

Smoking has been banned in public places for quite a few years now, longer if you've been living in Scotland, but that only prevented people from smoking inside. Now it's set to take another jump forward, with the Welsh government announcing plans to ban smoking in outdoor areas.

The plans as they currently stand will see the Welsh government set up smoke-free areas around hospitals, schools, and playgrounds by next summer. The idea is to prevent non-smokers from second-hand smoke, and 'de-normalise' smoking in the eyes of children.

It's also been announced that fines will be issued to anyone caught smoking on hospital grounds, with the announcement mentioning the number of complaints hospitals have received regarding people smoking outside the main entrances - particularly from new mothers leaving maternity wards.

Health Secretary Vaughan Gething said:

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.

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.

The plans are not without criticism however, with Simon Clark of pro-tobacco group Forest claiming it's discriminatory against people with mobility issues and that it's "despicable" to threaten patients and staff with fines "when some of them might be at their most vulnerable".

“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.”

Unfortunately it seems common sense is lacking these days, especially if people really are smoking right outside the entrance to maternity wards. Nobody wants to breathe in second-hand smoke, especially if they have young kids, if only because it smells vile.

The move would makes Wales the first country to ban smoking in outdoor areas, though it wouldn't be surprising if this move was similarly adopted by Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England. Now if only the governments could do something about people vaping indoors, that'd be great. [ITV News]