A LAW has been passed making it an offence to smoke in hospital grounds.

The Health Bill passed by MSPs strengthens the ban imposed by health boards on smoking outside hospitals and in hospital grounds by making it a statutory offence.

The bill also regulates the sale of electronic cigarettes after concerns children were smoking the devices.

The Bill brings e-cigs into line with traditional cigarettes and bans the sale of e-cigarettes to under 18s and makes it an offence for adults to buy them for children.

Shopkeepers selling the devices will also have to sign up to a central register of retailers to offer them for sale.

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt said the hospital ban was common sense.

She said: “Making it an offence to smoke near hospital buildings is common sense, and it will help NHS boards to enforce their existing smoke-free policies. Hospitals are places people go to recover from illness, and they shouldn’t have to walk through clouds of smoke.”

She said the ban on selling to under 18a was to prevent children taking up smoking.

She said: “While they are almost certainly safer than cigarettes, and have a role to help people quit smoking, we don’t want children to take them up, and that’s why we are proposing these age restrictions.”

Jim Hume, LibDem MSP, introduced a previous Bill to ban smoking in cars with children present.

He said: “The passage of my Member’s Bill in December prohibiting smoking in cars when a child is present aims to protect children’s health and I would not like to see counterproductive measures that could subject them to new ways of inhaling nicotine and other harmful substances. So I hope to see the measures in this Bill being taken forward productively.

The Bill includes many elements and also means the NHS will have a duty to provide equipment and support to people who lose their voice.

Ms Watt said there are a range of health conditions and illnesses that could result in a person losing their voice and by providing equipment and support, NHS boards can help people to continue to communicate if their condition takes away their ability to speak.