VIEWS are being sought on plans to get tough on smokers who light up outside the Royal Alexandra Hospital.

Legally enforceable no-smoking areas could be introduced around hospital buildings in Scotland under new proposals being considered by MSPs.

A consultation has been launched to ask what action could be taken in order to crack down on people who smoke on hospital grounds.

A law has already been passed to establish no-smoking areas outside of hospital buildings, making it an offence to smoke there.

However, MSPs are now considering what penalties could be imposed to ensure that more people abide by the policy.

The consultation will consider three particular issues – the distance forming the perimeter of no-smoking areas outside hospital buildings, the wording of no-smoking notices and how they’re displayed and whether there are any specific areas of land or buildings on hospital grounds where there is no need for a no-smoking area.

The use of electronic cigarettes on hospital grounds outside of no-smoking areas will also be considered as part of the consultation.

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “The smoke-free grounds policy has had some impact but has not been sufficient to end the practice of smoking around hospitals.

“Smoking remains the most significant cause of ill health in Scotland. Our hospitals need to be seen as accessible, open places which promote good lifestyle choices.”

However, campaigners for smokers’ rights have hit out at the consultation.

Simon Clark, director of Forest (Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco), said: “People often smoke when they are feeling worried or stressed.

“Harassing patients, visitors and staff who smoke must stop because it suggests a disturbing lack of compassion for those who take comfort from a cigarette.

“Extending no-smoking areas on hospital grounds would punish patients who are infirm or largely immobile without assistance.

“Instead of threatening smokers with legally enforceable no-smoking areas, the government should allow hospitals to provide comfortable smoking areas within easy walking distance of hospital buildings and ask smokers to use them.”

To take part in the consultation, visit here.