The husband of a pregnant woman who was fined £75 for dropping her cigarette butt outside hospital just hours before giving birth has said the fine was “a bit extreme.”
Andrew Smith was outside the Lancashire Women and Newborn Centre at Burnley General Hospital with his wife, Sarah, on Monday, July 31st, when she was “pounced on” by an environmental officer for littering after dropping her cigarette butt outside the hospital entrance.
Sarah - who was two weeks overdue and at hospital for an induced labour - was issued with an immediate fine by the officer, employed by Burnley Borough Council as part of their contract with Kingdom Environmental Enforcement Services, who operate a “zero tolerance approach” to issuing £75 Fixed Penalty Notices.
“I was furious,” said Andrew. “It seems a bit extreme; I’m not defending her for dropping the cigarette end and we have no problem paying the fine. The issue was that she was stressed at the situation, and I think it would’ve been better to take her name and issue her a warning.”
James Maguire, Divisional General Manager for Estates and Facilities at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Our congratulations to Mr and Mrs Smith on the birth of their son and our best wishes for the future.
“We have recently invested in large, high visibility signs at each entrance (and throughout the Trust) to remind everyone we are firm in our commitment to being a ‘No Smoking’ organisation,” he added.
“[The] hospital is a completely ‘no smoking’ and ‘no littering’ site,” Mr Maguire explained. “We have a duty to promote health and well-being, and protect the hundreds of women who give birth each year at the Lancashire Women and Newborn Centre from the effects of second hand smoke.”
In an effort to to tackle littering and dog fouling - the two main concerns raised by residents when asked about the issues that affect them - the council have employed Kingdom to operate the strict policy since April 10th.
A Burnley Council spokesman said: “Dropping litter, including cigarette ends, is an offence. The hospital trust does not allow smoking in its grounds or buildings.
“We are working with the trust to ensure the hospital grounds are clean and free from litter for the benefit of everyone,” the comment added. “The same applies across the whole borough, in response to calls from residents to tackle littering and dog fouling.”
Insisting that the lack of places to dispose of cigarettes was “making smoking a crime,” Andrew bemoaned the treatment his wife was subjected to, saying: “She was shaking.
“Put a smoking bin there; people are very emotional, they’re coping with stress,” he added. “What if there’s a person smoking who’s lost somebody and struggling to cope?
“It’s the principle of it all,” explained Andrew. “Good, old-fashioned acts of kindness and common sense have gone in this world.”