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Vape shops in hospitals, fines for people caught smoking outside

Sandwell and West Birmingham hospitals NHS trust has been in the news today.

The Guardian reported:

Vape shops have opened in two NHS hospitals in the West Midlands as part of efforts to eradicate smoking.

The outlets run by Ecigwizard are at Sandwell general hospital in West Bromwich and Birmingham city hospital, both of which are run by Sandwell and West Birmingham hospitals NHS trust.

I have no problem with e-cigarettes being sold on site. What I have a issue with is this change to the existing policy:

The trust is clamping down on smoking on its grounds, with people being issued £50 fines since 5 July if they light up. Security cameras are also being used to police smoking.

The Birmingham Post has further details:

A Midland hospital trust has warned patients and visitors: 'If you smoke ANYWHERE on our site you will be fined £50 - even in your car.'

Sandwell and West Birmingham hospitals NHS trust has brought in a zero tolerance ban - and all smoking shelters are now off limits except for vapers.

Bosses are warning that patrols will scour the sites at Sandwell and City Hospitals - dishing out fines to anyone they catch.

I'm a bit confused by the threat of fining smokers.

There is no law that says it is an offence to smoke on hospital grounds in England, and when Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust sought to fine transgressors in 2015 the trust was told it needed a council by-law to issue fines.

I've no idea what power Sandwell and West Birmingham hospitals NHS trust has but I'm determined to find out. This afternoon I wrote to the trust as follows:

Dear Sirs,

It has been reported that Sandwell and West Birmingham hospitals NHS trust is to fine people caught smoking on hospitals grounds. This will include people caught smoking in their own cars if they are parked on the relevant property.

'Patrols,' we are told, 'will be out and about dishing out penalties on two hospital sites.'

I would be grateful if you could advise me on the relevant law (or by-law) that allows Sandwell and West Birmingham hospitals NHS trust to issue fines to people caught smoking on the grounds of the hospitals, or in their own cars.

I look forward to an early response.

If and when I hear anything I'll let you know.

PS. BBC 3 Counties Radio has asked me to discuss the hospital vaping shop story tonight.

They also want to discuss whether the UK should follow San Francisco's example and ban the sale of e-cigarettes.

They asked me what Forest thought about both issues and I replied:

It’s a good idea that vape shops are being opened in hospitals, especially hospitals where smoking is banned on the grounds. Vaping is a popular way to quit smoking so it makes sense for vaping to be encouraged.

Our only concern is that, at the same time, smokers are being told that they face being fined £50 if they light up on the grounds, which lends a sense of coercion to the policy.

Smokers will consider switching to e-cigarettes if vaping is sold as a pleasurable alternative to smoking but if they feel they are being forced to swap cigarettes for ecigs that will take away the sense of empowerment that has fuelled the rise in vaping.

Re the ban on the sale of ecigs in San Francisco, we are strongly opposed. It makes no sense, either for supporters of consumer choice like us, or for advocates of public health. The so-called teen epidemic of vaping in America is grossly exaggerated.

I'll keep you posted on the 'fines' story.

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Reader Comments (5)

Who didn't see using ecigs as a bullying tool against smokers would happen.

This is another example of creating health inequalities for smokers. Before public health started driving smokers away from hospitals with bullying measures, including denial of treatment, smokers were treated equally in all healthcare aspects based upon their health conditions and not judged on their lifestyles.

It is disgraceful that patients are being bullied this way.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019 at 17:10 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Well I've stopped going to pubs. i guess i'll stop going to hospital now.
Not as silly as you might think. I started smoking at 9. I have had 2 cartilages removed and twice had some tooth operations. Not bad for 50 years.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019 at 20:37 | Unregistered CommenterStu1


I am of the opinion that you will wait for a very long time to receive an answer to your request about the law or bylaw that gives this hospital trust the right to fine anyone for smoking outside of the hospital buildings. As I believe if there had of been a law or bylaw passed for such a purpose we would have heard about it in all the daily newspapers and the national and international news outlets. I believe that this hospital trust is acting on the belief that people will believe their lies and follow blindly their forced beliefs

Thursday, July 11, 2019 at 6:01 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Kerr

I think you have probably prompted them to go to their pocket politician and smokerphobic public health officer in their local council to get that local bylaw passed without debate, consideration, or care for those patients they have segregated off and otherised for cruel treatment. What sort of monsters now control OUR National Health Service.

Remember the Birmingham Trust hates smokers so much it shamelessly made a video showing a smoker getting beaten to death down a side street where many were forced after the blanket ban. They were warned this would encourage violence from smokerphobic extremists but they refused to delete it and have since made a pack of money sellling this incitement to violence to other countries.

They literally have no shame. Hatred against smokers is why they exist.

Thursday, July 11, 2019 at 13:21 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

First, The existence of the alleged 'by-laws' needs to be confirmed and their content illuminated.

Next, the process of enacting these by-laws needs to be scrutinized. Does the entity enacting them actually have the authority to do so; were the procedural steps (such as public consultations and/or hearings followed, etc.

Finally, if they do, in fact exist, they should be repealed as there is no risk from second hand smomke outdoors (and the evidence of such risk indoors is suspect.

Repeal these outdoor smoking bans and stop persecuting smokers.

Thursday, July 11, 2019 at 16:40 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

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