Mental health hospital to hand out free e-cigarettes to those trying to quit smoking

This article was taken from:


One of the UK’s largest mental health hospitals is to hand out free e-cigarettes to those trying to quit smoking, in a deal with a vaping retailer.

The trust said it would help patients “transform” their health.

But critics last night said the deal – believed to be the first of its kind – was “extraordinary” at a time when the safety of vaping is under increasing scrutiny.

The Ladywell Unit at Lewisham hospital is to provide patients with Hexa starting kits from vaping retailer VPZ.

Every patient who smokers will be offered a £20 kit until the first 100 have been used.

The project, will then be reviewed, but “early success” indicates it will continue.

Last week departing chief medical officer Prof Dame Sally Davies said she would favour a ban on flavoured e-cigarettes, in line with plans announced by  US President Donald Trump after a spate of vaping-related deaths.

Prof Martin McKee, professor of European Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said: “This is an extraordinary time for the NHS to engage in a project like this, in light of what we are seeing in the United States, and the risks of vaping.”

People with mental health problems are far more likely to smoke than the general population.

Smoking rates among adults with depression in the UK are about twice as high as among other adults while people with schizophrenia are three times more likely to smoke than other people.

Mary Yates, Nurse Consultant, Health Promotion & Wellbeing at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Smoking traps vulnerable people in poverty because it is so expensive.

“This collaboration with VPZ has the potential to transform the lives of our patients, taking them off cigarettes, giving them more money and transforming their health.

“We are taking a very holistic approach where smoking is tackled along with mental health issues with the ultimate objective of improving our patients’ overall wellbeing.”

Patients will receive the kit, which retails at £19.99, a number of e-liquids and some support guides which set out ways to look after the vape and how it should be used.

VPZ will monitor the impact of the scheme, and hopes to roll it out across the UK.

Public Health England has championed the role of e-cigarettes, which it claims are 95 per cent safer than smoking, and called for them to be made more widely available in hospitals.

Doug Mutter, VPZ director, said: “Quitting smoking can be a challenge for any long-term smoker but mental health patients face an even tougher battle with their abilities to access services reduced considerably.

“We are now looking forward to working in partnership with the team at Ladywell Unit at Lewisham Hospital to help patients make the switch to vaping and take the first steps to living a better life.

“We will also work closely with them to monitor the impact of the project and aim to roll-out the scheme throughout the UK as we work towards transforming the health of the nation.”