Coalition welcomes MPs recommendations on e-cigarettes

16 August 2018

Mental health coalition welcomes MPs recommendations on e-cigarettes

The Mental Health & Smoking Partnership [1] today welcomes The Science and Technology Committee’s recommendation [2] that mental health services should better integrate e-cigarettes into care for patients.

The Partnership provided evidence to the Committee [3] on the significant inequality in smoking rates between people with a mental health condition and the rest of the population. People with a mental health condition are twice as likely to smoke, a major cause of their lower life expectancy and higher level of poor physical health.

In line with this evidence the Committee’s report notes that e-cigarettes offer great potential to address these inequalities and provide an alternative to smoking for an often highly addicted group of smokers.

In exploring the role of e-cigarettes in mental health services the Committee has found that a third of mental health trusts currently completely prohibit their use. The Partnership supports the Committee’s calls for NHS England to provide clear advice to Trusts to support increased integration of e-cigarette use into care settings.

Professor Ann McNeill, Co-Chair of the Partnership and Professor of Tobacco Addiction in the National Addictions Centre at King’s College London said:

The Committee rightly highlight the urgent need for better support for smokers within mental health services. For too long services have been complacent about smoking among mental health patients and not provided enough support to help smokers become smokefree. A more evidence-based and consistent approach to e-cigarettes would be an important step forward, helping smokers to see that there are much less harmful alternatives for them.Trusts should ensure that all smoking cessation treatments are available and accessible to smokers.

Trusts that allow the use of e-cigarettes have had a positive experience, with smokers welcoming the chance to make a positive choice to improve their health.

The Partnership also welcomed the Committee’s recommendations to improve the medicinal licensing process for e-cigarettes. Products available on prescription would remove cost as a barrier to use and would give the public greater confidence in the devices.

The Committee further highlighted the important role of NHS England in addressing smoking rates across all services but particularly for people with a mental health condition.

Hazel Cheeseman, Director of Policy for Action on Smoking and Health who provide the secretariat for the Partnership said:

Having e-cigarettes on prescription could be transformative. It would reassure staff that these products can help smokers and provide confidence to smokers themselves. However, Trusts should not wait for licenced medicines. They can confidently advise smokers to make the switch today.

The Mental Health & Smoking Partnership have a position statement on e-cigarettes which can be read here: http://smokefreeaction.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/FINAL-Partnership-Statement-on-E-cigarettes.pdf

ENDS

Notes and Links:

To organise an interview with members of the Partnership contact ASH on 020 7404 0242 or out of hours Hazel Cheeseman on 07754 358 593.

References 

[1] The Mental Health and Smoking partnership is a coalition of health organisations. A full list A full list of Mental Health & Smoking Partnership members can be seen at http://smokefreeaction.org.uk/smokefree-nhs/smoking-and-mental-health/mental-health-and-smoking-partnership-members/

For more information about the Partnership see here: http://smokefreeaction.org.uk/smokefree-nhs/smoking-and-mental-health/

[2] Science and Technology Committee Report on E-Cigarettes https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/science-and-technology-committee/inquiries/parliament-2017/e-cigarettes-17-19/

Specific recommendation relating to mental health: “NHS England should set a clear central NHS policy on e-cigarettes in mental health facilities which establishes a default of allowing e-cigarette use by patients unless an NHS trust can show reasons for not doing so which are demonstrably evidence-based. NHS England should issue e-cigarette guidance to all NHS mental health trusts to ensure that they understand the physical and mental health benefits for their patients.”

[3] Mental Health & Smoking Partnership written evidence to the committee: http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/science-and-technology-committee/ecigarettes/written/75317.html