SMOKING will be banned in hospital and school grounds and playgrounds in Wales by next summer, the Welsh Government has said.

The new rules, expected to be in place by summer 2019, are intended to protect non-smokers from the dangers of second-hand smoke and discourage children and young people from taking up the habit.

While most hospitals in Wales already have no smoking policies, staff have said it can be difficult to enforce. But the new rules will make it illegal to light up in hospital grounds, with fines imposed for breaking the rules enforceable by law.

Wales' health and social services secretary Vaughan Gething said: “I am proud that Wales continues to be at the forefront of UK action to reduce smoking and prevent young people from taking it up in the first place.

“We have seen significant changes to the attitudes to smoking since 2007.

"Back then we received some resistance to change, but we have seen a remarkable culture-change and I am pleased our plan to extend smoke-free areas to outdoor public spaces has received overwhelming public support.

“This is another step in the right direction to de-normalise smoking in Wales.”

Wales will be the first country in the UK to introduce such a ban.

Smoking indoors in public places has been banned in Wales since April 2007 - three months before England brought in a similar ban.

Smoking costs the Welsh NHS about £302 million a year, and causes 5,450 deaths every year.

Help with stopping smoking is available from your GP.

Help and support is also available via Help Me Quit on 0800 085 2219 or via