The NHS has released its long-term plan which includes everything from use of taxpayer’s money to care quality. Smoking features under Chapter 2 ‘More NHS Action on prevention and health inequalities. As well as numerous initiatives relating to smoking during pregnancy, the plan also covers the issue of smoking in mental health services.

It states “a new universal smoking cessation offer will also be available as part of specialist mental health services for long-term users of specialist mental health, and in learning disability services. On the advice of PHE, this will include the option to switch to e-cigarettes while in inpatient settings.”

Mental health and vaping

Smoking rates among people with mental health conditions has been a pressing concern in recent times. While smoking rates in the UK have dropped to around 15%, people with mental health conditions are around 2.5 times more likely to smoke than the general population.

This issue was raised last year with public health experts campaigning for e-cigarettes to be used more prominently. It was reported one third of mental health facilities in the UK banned vaping on their premises.

In August, Norman Lamb MP said “Those with mental ill health are being badly let down and NHS England appear to have failed to give this any priority. NHS England’s default policy should be that e-cigarettes should be permitted in mental health units.”

This was also a popular topic of discussion during the Science and Technology committee’s E-cigarette inquiry. A lot of the evidence suggested that vaping could help reduce these rates and we hope to see the latest suggestion in the NHS long-term plan put into action and have a positive effect.

The Tobacco Control Plan stated “People with mental health conditions have an equal right to be asked whether they smoke. They need to be offered effective methods to quit smoking or reduce harm as part of their care plan and there is an urgent clinical need to improve the support they receive.”

It’s refreshing to see the NHS taking the suggestion of public Health England on board. We look forward to seeing more suggestions from Public Health England put into action to help more people quit smoking and to correct the misconceptions which surround the vaping world.