New guidance set by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) advises NHS hospitals to ban smoking on their property. It has also been recommended that hospitals have an on-site stop-smoking service and that staff discourage patients to smoke.
Though it is individual NHS trusts who will have the final say, NICE wants both staff and people using NHS services to refrain from smoking on hospital grounds. Trusts should not have a designated smoking area and no staff-supervised or staff facilitated smoking breaks for those using secondary care services.
Professor Mike Kelly, the director of the Centre for Public Health Excellence at NICE says the new guidance should be seen as a culture shift rather than the creation of a penal culture:
“It’s clearly absurd that the most lethal set of toxins to the human body are being passively encouraged in hospitals. We’ve known since the 1950s that smoking kills you and 61 years have passed and we’re now tackling the problem in hospitals. That’s too long.”
Prof Kelly goes on to explain that smoking is the most important health issue currently facing the NHS with almost 800,000 deaths each year caused by smoking.
Figures released by NICE shows that people with mental health problems are more likely to smoke. It is estimated that one in five people in the general population smoke; this figure rises to one in three people with mental health conditions.
Professor Sue Bailey, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists says there is a common (albeit mistaken) belief among some mental health professionals that it is OK for patients in their care to smoke. This is incorrect however, and patients with mental health issues are even more likely to die earlier.
Smokers lobbying against the guidance say banning patients from smoking is both ‘heartless’ and ‘inhumane’. They say that many smokers in hospital are not there because of a smoking-related condition and simply want to relieve stress.
If you think you would find it difficult not to smoke during a hospital stay, it may be worth seeking further help to quit. To find out how hypnotherapy could help, please see our quit smoking page.
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