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DH aims for smoke-free mental health units

What are the DH’s ambitions for reducing smoking among mental health patients?

A Department of Health tobacco control plan for England aims to make mental health units smoke-free by next year.

Ambitiously titled Towards a smoke-free generation, the plan sets out the aim of reducing the prevalence of smoking in people with mental health conditions, and includes an intention to ensure mental health units implement smoke-free policies by 2018.

The plan warns that 40.5% of adults with a serious mental illness smoke and that people with a mental health condition die on average 10 to 20 years before the general population.

It calls on healthcare professionals to offer help with quitting to people with mental health conditions, and to include this in care plans. It also describes integrated tobacco dependence treatment pathways for this purpose.

Trusts should change their culture and move away from practices that support smoking, such as escorting patients going out for a smoke and using tobacco to build relationships.Wider public health aims include reducing smoking as a whole, specifically in pregnant women and to lower the number of 15-year-olds who regularly smoke from 8% to 3% or fewer.

Action point

  • Consider what form a mental health care pathway featuring treatment for tobacco dependence treatment might take. Can your organisation contribute to trust efforts to implement pathways of this kind, for example by offering products or by analysing what makes a programme of this kind successful?

Further information

Department of Health: Towards a smoke-free generation: tobacco control plan for England

BBC News: England ‘on track’ to stamp out smoking