No fixed penalty notices has been issued since smoking was made illegal within hospital grounds in Scotland in September 2022.
According to STV News, 31 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities responded to FOIs asking about fines for those breaching the smoking ban – with all saying they had not issued any penalties.
In September 2022, a new law was introduced extending the voluntary smoke-free hospital grounds policy from 2015.
It means that it is now illegal to smoke within 15 metres of an NHS building including under awning, canopies, or any other overhanging structures.
Those caught face fixed penalty notices of £50 or a £1,000 fine if taken to court.
The policy is part of a Scottish Government aim to create a tobacco-free Scotland by 2034.
Wilma Brown, who is a nurse and member of Unison’s health committee, said it is “no surprise” there have not been any fines despite seeing people smoking on hospital grounds “every day”.
She said: “Generally they will move on because they know it’s not the right place to smoke, you just sometimes have to point it out to them.
“Sometimes people get quite irate with staff when they ask them to move on so we have had quite a lot of issues where we’ve had to call security but I think as time’s gone on people realise the reasons and it has got easier.”
Sheila Duffy, chief executive of Ash Scotland, said the point of the law was not to fine people but to protect people recovering in hospitals from tobacco smoke.
She believes if that is happening then the law has worked but if not, then there is still a problem.
She said: “We know that enforcement officers and councils are under pressure and that councils are under funding pressure so I think it’s important that that funding is secured for them so that they know they have the people to go out there and observe and make sure that the law is being enforced.
“This is not however about fines it’s about clearing the air for people’s health and tobacco smoke is toxic, it’s preventable, it doesn’t need to be in hospitals.”
Public health minister Jenni Minto MSP hopes the lack of fines means people are “taking heed” of the new rules and have changed their behaviour.
“In some respects I think it’s not a bad thing that there’s been no fines because enforcement really is the last option,” she said.
“I would hope the fact that hospitals and environmental health officers are using a much more encouraging and educating process, as opposed to setting fines or giving fines through enforcement.”