Asthma UK community forum

Exclusive news! Its legal to smoke on NHS sites outside of buildings

Hi All,

As you are all probably aware I am running an ePetition to ban smoking on all NHS sites.

I contacted Environment Health about 2 occasions of people smoking at the front entrance under the canopy. They said they couldn't do anything as it didn't fall within the >=50% enclosed rule. What's going wrong? - smoking allowed at the hospital entrance door, but not at a smoking club!

I mentioned (to EH) I was starting an ePetition to ban smoking on NHS sites and was told that its legal to smoke on NHS sites - outside buildings- as long as the above rule isn't breached. There you have it, smokers can smoke just about anywhere outside buildings on NHS sites and legally they can't do anything about it.

Are the EH in my area correct?

They don't want the press to find out and I was asked not to go to them as there could be a major problem with smokers on NHS sites.

Any opinions welcome.



16 Replies

The EH *are* correct in that legally there's nothing to stop people smoking anywhere that isn't >50% enclosed.

However, the smoking ban at its inception was extended so that all bus shelters - regardless of how enclosed they are - are no smoking areas. There's therefore no reason why the law cannot also be extended to include all NHS land.

I think going to the press would produce some very entertaining results! Best of luck, whichever course of action you take - you certainly have my support.


Not in Wales it ain't! :-)


Our local NHs trust in the Midlands has banned smoking everywhere even in car parks it is a no smoking campus that involves all out side area. people that need a smoke go to the end of the road just out side the boundary for the hospital.


Our hospital sites are now non smoking so that patients have to go outside of the grounds to smoke. Most people now go and stand at opposite end of the car park.

It has stopped people congregating around the doors causing the smoke fog and staff have also been stopped from wheeling patients to the front door for a ciggy. They have to make their own way or get a fellow relative or patient to take them at their own risk!

It may be helped by the extremely efficient car parking/security people who seem to like putting fines on cars and telling people they have to move to smoke, for once being a miserable jobsworth is good!!


I totally support you. I for one am sick of walking through clouds of smoke to get into my department. I can only imagine how our patients get on who suffer from breathing problems! It makes me choke and I'm 'normal'.

Also when doing breathing tests, as our building is old, we have the windows open to keep it cool and the number of times I've had to shut the windows because of people smoking underneath them is crazy.

It is also pathetic how doctors and nurses lecture people on stopping smoking yet cannot do it themselves..


Many NHS trusts have a ""no smoking on site"" policy, but there are even more that don't. In these cases it's still not illegal to smoke on the site, but security have the right to ask you to cease (or move), and some sites have better security staff than others. Dudley NHS went smoke-free quite some time before the legal ban was in place, and also posted ""don't smoke in this area"" signs next to all of the entrances. However, I never saw these bans enforced by security at the time.

It's incorrect to say that it's not legal to smoke on NHS sites in Wales; there is no such legislation. However, most (possibly all, but I don't think so) Welsh NHS trusts have smoke-free sites.

Hopefully, if there's no chance of a change in legislation, at least we can try to get all NHS trusts to ban smoking on the entirety of their sites.



I don't smoke, and it affects my asthma, so I am in favour of no smoking at the entrances to hospitals, however, I don't think banning all smoking on hospital sites is right.

I know this will be controversial here, but this is why: I look after many patients who are dying from cancer or other conditions. Many of them smoke. Stopping will make no difference to them at this stage of their lives, except for reducing their quality of life. Most would not be able to get off the hospital site without a lot of help. Providing somewhere they can smoke without affecting others would improve their quality of life when that is all we can do for them.

Our hospital has smoking shelters away from the entrances. They had to remove some of the glass when the smoking ban came in (so that they are less than 50% enclosed) but in the main they are used - at least they were until some numpty put a big endoscopy caravan outside the entrance, so you can't get past it easily, now people stand right at the door. I think this is a reasonable compromise- smokers can smoke without it affecting others.


I am a non-smoker and brittle asthmatic. I personally really dislike it and it really affects my asthma

I feel it is a good and safe idea to have allocated smoking zones - shelters, that are easy access, visible but away from any entrances and windows. This will allow people who are patients and perhaps quite unwell to have somewhere to smoke and they won't sneek off behind some obscure building on site to have a smoke which could be dangerous and also if they collapse, they may not be found!

During my last admission, there were some people below the ward outside somewhere smoking as the smell drifted in a bit - I was sorely tempted to fill one of my 20ml syringes with water.........................


Hi all

It is good to see that they are trying. But even with big sinceat our hospital not may take any notice as i have seen jet again yesterday. 4 people standing right at the main door puffing away and one of them a mum to be. I rest my case.

even when reporting it to the main desk nothing got done.

They got the right ider but if otheres would do the same i think that would work then in the end.




Thanks for the responses.

I sympathise with the view on cancer patients and I note the point on smoking shelters.

Any smoking shelter that is in proximity to any hospital building, path, car park etc will effect patients with breathing difficulties. The smoking shelters are not enclosed and the smoke drifts out and can travel a fair distance. In my experience smoking shelters are near to, or in, car parks and paths and disabled entrances. People who are in wheelchairs or cannot climb steps are the worst effected. They cannot easily avoid these shelters. Some shelters are placed outside building and the smoke rises up through open windows.

Patients who are addicts can obtain nicotine replacement stuff at my hospital and do not have to go outside and smoke, but they choose to. My mum smokes 60 a day but understands the problem that smoke can cause to others.

Why allow it on NHS sites when it costs money to clean up after smokers that could be better spent in other areas.

While I would like there to be solution which suits everybody, I'm going to continue my support for this ban. People I know have suffered too much and ended up in hospital too often because of smoke. Smoking shelters don't work in their current format, and smokers more often that not don't use them in my area.

After all its an NHS site to help people with problems, not make them worse.

... and I mean it all in the best possible way.

kind regards,



Our trust won't provide nicotine replacement to inpatients but will write up on drug chart encourages patients to use and bring in from the real world.

Although I hate patients being brought back to the ward stinking of smoke and objected to the fact nurses and HCAs used to all disappear off the ward with one patient when it always seemed at its most chaotic. I was concerned that on my last admissions those desparate were making their own way out when not well enough to and even worse attempting to sneak into loo for ciggy. If you are 97 and have lung disease or similar i agree surely there is no point stopping?



Whether to smoke or not, irrespective of age, illness, is down to the individual.

Mental health patients already had a 12 month exemption which ended on July 1st this year. I guess the government decision makers decided not to include people in other catergories.

kind regards,



Hi William

Good luck you have my support.

I can add that York District Hosital is a no smoking site. When you drive by you can see all the smokers gathered on the pavements outside the grounds smoking!

I was interested to note Peaksteve's point about bus shelters. My daughter recently diagnosed asthmatic had smoke blown in her face when she asked someone to stop smoking in a bus shelter. At that point a very kind hearted member of the public told the smoker to move! It restores your faith in mankind.

Good luck



I do agree that whether to smoke or not is an individual decision. However, I also recognise that nicotine is highly addictive, and that quitting smoking in a planned attempt can be highly stressful for an individual - particularly if they have been smoking for a very long time. Being in hospital itself can be highly stressful, without the physical and psychological ""side effects"" of an enforced withdrawal. NHS policy regarding the funding of nicotine replacement therapy at present is that it should be done as part of a co-ordinated quit smoking programme, with psychological support and regular follow-up - so I can understand why Marmite's local won't prescribe NRT to inpatients but instead ask them to bring their own in.

For a number of people I work with, smoking, its effects on them and possible risks, is the least of their worries. For those with lung disease, it's worth bearing in mind that quitting at any time can stop things from progressing as fast; however Marmite is right in that it gets to a certain point where to be honest the amount of stress caused by quitting would significantly worsen quality of life to the extent whereby it really isn't worth it (as Owl alludes to, in the context of palliative care). William, you mentioned Mental Health patients, and, for those with severe and enduring mental illness smoking can be something important and almost stabilising for them. I can't imagine the hell that will be breaking loose on our psychiatric wards around now - trying to explain to an acutely psychotic patient that they can't go for a cigarette will not be any minor task, I can assure you.

You may think I am some kind of smoking sympathiser, but I can assure you I am not. I have never smoked, I never will, and I hate the habit with a passion. I, also, have seen friends and patients made ill by the effects of passive smoking and have been affected by it myself. I, along with most of the people on these boards, applauded and welcomed the ban as it gave us back some sense of freedom in going out to pubs, etc. I do feel, however, that a) not everyone is as strong-willed as you and I are, and may have very different priorities, and b) that some kind of compromise needs to be reached that will enable smokers and non-smokers to co-exist peacefully. I'm not sure what that compromise is, but that's why we're having this discussion.

I'll round off this saga-style post with a thought; an eminent doctor that I once worked with said this: ""We all have our addictions, it's just that some are more socially acceptable than others.



RE: some kind of compromise needs to be reached that will enable smokers and non-smokers to co-exist peacefully

I believe that the basic premise for humans is that they are not allowed to harm one another.

Smoking can, and has, put non smokers in resus, I was with them. If smoking effects another person so badly then surely this is some form of bodily harm. If it causes ""rose cottage"" then we know what that is called.

From my perspective people with severe breathing problems are extremely vulnerable and deserve a basic human right of clean air.

I don't have asthma or other breathing difficulty, I just have to care for them.

Who will suffer most? The smoker without a fag or another?




William, this is exactly what I was saying about a compromise. You seem to have misunderstood and taken it to mean that I endorse passive smoking, or accept it as some form of skewed compromise. I don't. What I was trying to say (obviously a bit obscurely!) is that it may be unrealistic to completely exclude smoking from all sites, but that a better compromise may be to adapt and adjust the smoking shelter idea. If that passive smoke that your friend/relative was exposed to had been contained elsewhere, it would not have caused a problem. What I am suggesting is that there needs to be a compromise that means that smokers who insist on smoking can do so without causing detriment to others.

Kind regards,



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