'Selfish smokers' leave stacks of cigarettes in banned Hairmyres hospital zones
Stacks of cigarette ends are still being left in a hospital zone where smoking is banned.
Pictures sent to the Glasgow Times revealed piles of butts left on top of bins near the entrance of the University Hospital Hairmyres in East Kilbride this month.
Currently, you can face a fine if you are caught smoking within a 15-metre perimeter of NHS hospital buildings.
This is in an attempt to stop smoke from drifting through doorways, windows and vents.
It comes as health officials warn secondhand smoke is dangerous, especially for children and vulnerable patients.
The cigarettes were spotted directly under large signs reminding the public that these areas are smoke-free zones to protect patients.
Despite the massive yellow warnings hospital staff said they are facing an “on-going challenge” to stop people using the grounds to smoke or vape.
Now one patient who took the photographs of the stacks of cigarettes left around the hospital has hit out at what they said was a “major issue”.
They wished to remain anonymous but said: “I really think it is unfair that people are brazenly smoking in these banned zones.
“I have family in hospital and have to attend clinics myself for chest issues, so to see people being selfish by smoking in these protected areas is frustrating.
“Every bin was full along with benches and the pavement outside, it is clearly a major issue.
“More needs to be done to make sure people don’t light up in these areas, it just is not safe or worth it.”
Karen Mather, Team Leader – Quit Your Way, NHS Lanarkshire, said: “We are supporting this new smoking legislation in every way we can and have worked with the Scottish Government to have the new signs around our hospital sites installed, along with our existing no smoking signs which can be found across every NHS Lanarkshire site.
“Many people who smoke respect this legislation however, despite efforts to discourage smoking on hospital grounds, this does remain an ongoing challenge.
"We have actively taken steps to display information within our hospitals to raise further awareness of the new legislation, which urge people who smoke or vape to be considerate of others on all hospital grounds.
“Furthermore, our Quit Your Way service offers free stop smoking support and nicotine replacement therapy for those in need of managing their nicotine withdrawals during their hospital stay, and can be contacted on 0800 84 84 84.”
Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive of health charity ASH Scotland, said: “It is vital that everyone is protected from the harms of toxic tobacco smoke while they are being treated or recovering in hospital.
“We hope that most people who smoke are considerate in remaining outside the 15-metre perimeters of NHS hospital buildings, to prevent smoke from drifting through doorways, windows and vents.
“Fines should be a last resort, but it is important that action is taken to encourage any serial offenders under the legislation to move further away from hospital buildings to ensure patients are protected against additional risks to their health caused by inhaling tobacco smoke.
“As part of efforts to make staff, patients or visitors aware of the legislation, we urge anyone who has been smoking on hospital grounds to consider contacting the local Quit Your Way service, which offers person-centred support to give up smoking.”
The Scottish Government were contacted by the Glasgow Times for comment.