23 Sep Can Vaping Help Smokers With Mental Health Difficulties Quit The Habit?
With the news that those who suffer from mental health conditions are twice as likely to be smokers than the rest of the population, it comes as no surprise that the Mental Health and Smoking Partnership has recently stated that vaping should be offered to these patients as an easier and healthier alternative to cigarettes. Charities and health bodies are concerned that smoking is deeply entrenched in the culture of many mental health settings, and this has led to many patients developing chronic and terminal illnesses due to the damage that tobacco can cause to the human body.
Mental Health Patients At Risk Of Early Death
Evidence has shown that those who suffer from mental health problems are much more likely to die at a significantly younger age than those without these issues, (often 10 – 20 years earlier than the general population) and smoking has been cited as one of the main reasons for this difference. Although the number of people in the general population who smoke has declined steadily over the last two decades, the number of smokers among mental health patients has barely altered in the same period, and although there are numerous types of mental health condition, a high smoking rate is a common thread among all those affected. About 16% of the UK’s population are smokers, but in psychiatric units, the percentage can be up to 70%. It’s no wonder that the partnership now aims to cut the rate of smoking among those who suffer from mental health conditions to 35% within 3 years and to just 5% by the year 2035.
The Importance Of Vaping
The policy advisor for Cancer Research UK has now suggested that smokers who also have mental health problems should be offered e-cigarettes as a valid alternative to cigarettes in all of the UK’s mental health settings, especially for those who have struggled to quit when trying other methods. While research to date has shown that e-cigs are considerably safer than tobacco smoking, the policies regarding use of vaping devices vary widely between settings. It is hoped that this new advice from the Mental Health and Smoking Partnership will help to dispel some of the misunderstandings that are still held about e-cigarettes and encourage medical staff in mental health organisations to think about ways in which they can help their service users to stop smoking for the benefit of their physical health. Although health professionals are still often hesitant to endorse the use of e-cigs as a smoking cessation aid, recent studies have been so overwhelmingly positive that the NHS is now starting to recommend their use.
Evidence that this strategy of vaping recommendation works already exists, with the Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust reporting that offering free disposable e-cigs to mental health patients who were being admitted for in-patient treatment has helped to cut the number of smokers in its unit from 42% down to 28% since last March.