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Hospital vape ban under fire

Stubbed out: Vaping

BANS on e-cigarettes on hospital grounds should be lifted, a pro-smoking group says.

More than half of NHS trusts do not allow vaping on site although Public Health England advises it should be made easier, according to a report by the Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking (Forest).

The group is also calling for greater freedom for patients, visitors and staff who want to smoke cigarettes at hospitals. It sent Freedom of Information requests to 200 NHS trusts in England and 170 replied.

Around 45 per cent allowed e-cigarettes to be used outside and 11 per cent of trusts, mainly specialising in mental health, permitted vaping indoors. But 14 per cent planned to amend their policies to allow vaping outside, in shelters or in wards.

More than three-quarters of trusts did not allow cigarettes to be smoked anywhere on their grounds. Only one in five provided smoking shelters.

Meanwhile, a third had installed a button which triggers a recorded message when pressed to deter smoking. Forest described them as ‘shame-a-smoker buttons’.

Director Simon Clark said banning smoking on hospital grounds ‘demonstrates a staggering lack of compassion’ for stressed or upset smokers. ‘A reasonable policy would lift restrictions on vaping, but give the option of sheltered smoking areas,’ he added.