SMOKERS should be fined for dropping cigarette butts on a hospital site, according to a health campaigner.

Russ McLean said it was time to stop being nice and get tougher on those who discard their cigarettes on sites including Royal Blackburn Hospital.

The chairman of the Pennine Lancashire Patient Voices Group said East Lancashire Hospitals Trust should bring in a council-style enforcement to clamp down on the problem.

He has spoken out after the Royal Blackburn Hospital staged its second ‘Big Butt Clean-up’ event last week.

It saw volunteers pick up hundreds of cigarette butts on the hospital grounds despite the hospital trust operating a blanket ban on tobacco and e-cigarettes at any of its sites.

The trust said that smoking on the hospital site is one of the biggest sources of complaints and despite extra signage and polite requests, some people continue to smoke.

Mr McLean said: “It’s an unsocial habit and the trust has worked really hard to put a stop to it on their sites.

“But patients and staff continue to smoke and dump their cigarette butts which isn’t acceptable.

“So maybe it’s time to end these nice approach of politely requesting people stop and coming down tough by introducing council-style fines for dropping discarded cigarette butts.”

Blackburn with Darwen Council introduced £75 fines for dropping cigarette butts and rubbish on the streets in October 2017, with Kingdom Environmental Enforcement running the scheme on behalf of the council.

But when asked about whether it would consider similar enforcement at the hospital, the council said a Kingdom enforcement officer regularly patrols the hospital once a week. However, fixed penalty notices are not being issued there.

The council said work was ongoing with the smoking cessation team at the hospital to advise people that it was a no-smoking site.

The trust did not comment when asked whether it would consider handing out fines to clamp down on cigarette litterers.

A trust spokesman said: “Cigarette butts on the floor can be a signal to smokers that we accept smoking on our sites, which is not the case. The Big Butt Clean-Up sends a clear message that such littering is unacceptable and helps to promote a healthy environment to aid our patients' recovery.”