Mental health units are joining the rest of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) grounds in becoming smoke free as of Wednesday, 09 March - No Smoking Day.
A common myth is that while smoking may be bad for physical health it at least has benefits for mental health in that it aids relaxation. However, one of the biggest harms to the mental and physical health of people living with a mental illness comes from smoking.
Research evidence increasingly indicates long-term smoking is actually associated with adverse mental health effects. In contrast, a reduction in smoking is proven to improve both mental wellbeing and physical health.
Smokers with mental health issues make up a third of total UK tobacco use, but are four times more likely to develop smoking related conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
Smokers will have a nicotine assessment carried out on or prior to admission to mental health units in the board area. Nicotine Replacement Therapy is available to all patients on admission and if patients wish to stop smoking during their admission a referral will be made to our stop smoking services.
Emilia Crighton, director of Public Health, NHSGGC, said: “In line with the Scottish Government’s aim for the country to be smoke free by 2034, supporting patients not to smoke during their admission is part of providing the best possible care and treatment.
“Smoking is the most preventable cause of ill health and premature death in Scotland with around a quarter of all deaths attributable to smoking.
“Tobacco use remains the most common preventable cause of death. Addressing smoking among people with mental health issues in NHSGGC would mean improving health, reducing inequalities and saving lives.
“There is now widespread awareness of the physical harm caused by tobacco and this has seen smoking rates in Scotland fall to around 20%.
“Unfortunately, this sustained decline of smoking in the general population has not been mirrored in mental health service users. Not only do they have higher smoking rates, but these service users appear to be more addicted to nicotine, smoke more cigarettes per day and find it harder to quit.
“There is consistent evidence that stopping smoking is associated with improvements in depression, anxiety, stress, psychological quality of life compared with continuing to smoke.
“People with mental health issues are as motivated to quit as the general population, however they are dying prematurely because of a smoking intervention gap which this new policy is designed put an end to.”
Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive of ASH Scotland, said: “Because of the high smoking rates and heavy tobacco use amongst people who experience mental ill-health they are dying years earlier than most and are suffering disproportionately from the life-limiting diseases caused by tobacco.
“It is a huge injustice, and because of this we actively support moves to create healthy, smoke-free environments and to offer compassionate and practical support to quit smoking, which the majority of smokers say they want to do.
“Stopping smoking is linked to improved mental health as well as physical health, so I welcome this initiative to create smoke-free mental health units and to support people to move away from tobacco.”