CBC News has learned the Health Sciences Centre in Thunder Bay intends to ramp up enforcement of its smoke-free policy.

The building and grounds have been officially smoke-free since it opened nine years ago, but patients and staff can frequently be seen smoking on the property.     

In an e-mail sent to hospital employees, CEO Andree Robichaud said staff will be held responsible for breaching the smoke-free policy.

The message also says people who violate provincial law under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act will be fined.

Provincial regulations forbid smoking inside a hospital, and smokers must be at least 9 metres away from an entrance.

A spokesperson for the Health Sciences Centre was not available for comment on this story.

Fines ‘not going to be paid’

The news is troubling for patients like Jody Demidovich, who sit outside the rear of Thunder Bay's hospital to smoke.

"What will the patients do? How can they help the patients that have an addiction, cope with [not smoking] ?" he asked.

"I can see it being very difficult having people with wheelchairs having to carry their poles with IV bags across Oliver Road and smoking … across the street in 40-below weather."

Robichaud’s e-mail partially addressed this concern, however.

"We will support staff, patients and families to be smoke-free while at the [hospital]. Our renewed commitment to the smoke-free grounds policy will focus on helping those who want to reduce or quit smoking and/or need support for nicotine addiction while on [hospital] property," the e-mail stated.

"Over the next few months, we will increase awareness and opportunities for the smoking cessation supports for staff, patients and visitors."

Demidovich said he thinks imposing fines on violators won’t work.

"If it's a policy and it's implemented … they won't have a hard time handing out the tickets," he said.

"But for people paying them just like parking tickets … they're not going to be paid."