HOSPITALS across the UK have started to roll out vaping zones following Public Health England advice.
While many are already smoke-free, hospitals have agreed patients, staff and visitors alike can vape in certain areas.
In support of today’s (March 14th) No Smoking Day, North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust is reaffirming its commitment to being a smoke free organization and has gone one step further in taking the decision to allow the use of e-cigarettes.
The move was taken in the wake of PHE’s findings that vaping is considerably less harmful than tobacco.
In its report last month, the agency advised hospitals should sell vape kits and provide vaping lounges, while suggesting e-cigarettes be made available on NHS prescription to help smokers quit.
Research by the UK’s Royal College of Physicians also reported that vaping is up to 95 percent less harmful to use than traditional cigarettes, which cause 200 deaths every day in England through smoking-related illnesses.
Dr John Atkinson, clinical director for respiratory at the Trust, said: “The harmful effects of smoking are well publicized and well known. What we’re trying to do is make sure that every patient we see gets the help and support they need to quit and will no longer feel the need to stand outside and smoke.
“We also know the vast majority of our patients and visitors want to see an end to people smoking on site and we’re asking for everyone’s support to make our hospitals smoke free.
“We have also taken the difficult decision to allow people to vape outdoors on site. While vaping is not risk free, it is less damaging to peoples’ health and there are no known effects from second hand vaping.”
Rod Harpin, medical director of the North Cumbria Hospital Trust, said: “Smoking is the single biggest cause of preventable illness and early death and it results in nearly half a million hospital appointments every year.
“There are many reasons hospitals should be helping patients to quit including adding years to someone’s life and reducing the risk of re-admissions. In addition, quitting smoking can reduce the risk of infections and improve healing after operations.”
A number of other hospitals are also making moves towards being tobacco-free, with two in Ipswich and Colchester both reporting a “huge reduction” in smoking since vaping zones were introduced on site.
Ipswich and Colchester are one step ahead of most hospitals after both introduced smoking shelters with dedicated outdoor vaping areas on National No Smoking Day last year.
Employees were also given training on how to challenge visitors caught smoking on site, but advised to partner the policy with mindfulness and compassion.