Doctors’ leaders have thrown their support behind a Scottish Government consultation proposing a 15-metre smoke-free zone around hospitals.
The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh also wants to extend the ban to vaping products.
The body, which represents thousands of doctors working at Scottish hospitals, says the move is necessary to prevent second-hand smoke from making its way into wards through open windows.
Health boards in Tayside and Fife have already adopted NHS Scotland’s 2015 smoke-free policy for all hospital grounds. But as the policy is not enshrined in law it has been deemed difficult to enforce. The large size of many hospital grounds is also regarded as a barrier.
Last year, NHS Tayside used the voices of young children in an effort to deter smokers from lighting up around Ninewells.
The youngsters’ recorded pleas are played when a blue button at the hospital entrance is pressed by anyone bothered by tobacco fumes.
In its response to the consultation, the Royal College notes that vaping has been banned within nine metres of any entrance of a public or private hospital in Ontario, Canada.
Professor Derek Bell, the organisation’s president, said: “We think that no-smoking boundaries outside hospital buildings could help protect the most vulnerable patients.
“The College believes that e-cigarettes should be included in any legislation relating to a smoking ban outside hospital buildings and on hospital grounds.
“There is strong precedent for including e-cigarettes, as many organisations, including health boards, local authorities and chains of cafes and pubs have introduced their own policies banning vaping on their premises.
“The College welcomes the fact that the Scottish Government is consulting on this issue. We will continue to make the case for banning smoking on hospital grounds as this really could protect patients, staff and visitors from the harmful effects of tobacco smoke.”
Andrew Radley, NHS Tayside consultant in public health pharmacy, said: “We ask staff, patients and visitors to respect our policy by not smoking on NHS Tayside premises or grounds.
“Most people in Tayside do not smoke and the public often comment that they value the opportunity to visit our hospitals without being exposed to second-hand smoke.
“Staff and members of the public share the responsibility for adhering to the smoke free grounds policy at NHS Tayside.
“Smokers who are admitted to hospital can be prescribed medication to help them remain smoke free while in hospital.”
NHS Fife did not comment.
A government spokeswoman said: “The smoke-free grounds policy that already exists has had some impact, but has not been sufficient to stop people smoking around hospitals.
“The Scottish Government is carefully considering almost 600 responses to the consultation before finalising plans to take forward our proposals.
“Our aim is to introduce no-smoking perimeters by the end of this year.”