A Freedom of Information request has shown that over a half of hospitals in the UK have an outright ban on vaping. 170 NHS trusts responded, 55% of which explained that they banned vaping both indoors and outdoors. 89% of respondents banned vaping inside the hospital.

Guidance from Public Health England (PHE) suggests that vaping should be allowed on hospital grounds. In the Tobacco Control Plan it states that vaping products should also be sold in hospital shops.

Nevertheless, over half of NHS Trusts still ban vaping anywhere on the grounds according to these new findings. Whilst these figures are slightly concerning and contradict PHE guidance, 14% of sites said they were reviewing their policies to allow vaping outside in 2019.

The fact that hospitals are considering a change in policy is very encouraging. It shows that the message from governmental health bodies is in fact getting through. Although some NHS trusts are taking longer to implement these positive initiatives, it’s a step in the right direction.

In terms of smoking, the results showed that 76% of hospitals ban smoking entirely on its grounds. 22% of respondents said they provided smoking shelters on-site. This is in line with the government’s goal of creating a truly smokefree NHS, set out in 2016.

Hospitals are of course a very relevant place to target smokers, in a bid to reduce rates. However, simply forcing them to leave the grounds to smoke could be detrimental. Hospital patients are often emotionally vulnerable and taking away something they are dependent on could potentially exasperate this.

By allowing vaping and providing cessation support, smokers have a viable alternative which has the potential to help them switch for good. Totally Wicked customer, Mark Trowbridge told us about his experience in James Cook Hospital. He said,

“I had been a smoker for 30 years, have no evidence that smoking caused the heart-attack but hey, it probably did. When in post-Op, the surgeon made a deal with me, he said if I agreed not to smoke in the hospital grounds, I could vape in my recovery ward, in bed in fact, as much as I wanted, and no member of staff would say or do anything to stop me.”

Mark is now 16 months smoke-free. This is an excellent example of how medical professionals can utilise vaping effectively in a targeted environment.

Mark Trowbridge signed off by saying “I feel great and have made an excellent recovery. Thanks to TW and a very open-minded heart surgeon!”

Now, we’re not saying all doctors and surgeons should allow vaping in hospital beds but this anecdote shows that pro-active approaches and sensible policies can have a really strong impact on smoking rates.

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