A new study adds to the evidence that people suffering from mental health conditions will benefit from switching from smoking tobacco to using electronic cigarettes. Experts have been calling for mental health facilities to encourage smoking patients to switch for years, something the UK is leading the world in, and this report shows it is doing the right thing.
What is the problem?
Firstly, there is the matter of health. Mental health establishments have a duty of care towards their patients. Staff are instructed to encourage patients to try to quit smoking, but positive results have been difficult to obtain in the past.
Secondly, when facilities were instructed to implement a smoking ban, they noticed increased levels of violence.
One study found, “staff working in psychiatric services are often exposed to violence during the course of their work. Findings from a meta-analysis of 35 studies, including 23972 inpatients, showed that 17% of inpatients committed at least one violent act during a hospital admission.”
What has that got to do with ecigs?
Patients were offered disposable vape products and measured a 39% reduction in physical assaults.
Is vaping recommended in this setting by experts?
Professor John Newton, Director of Health Improvement at Public Health England (PHE), speaking about the organisation’s recommendations in 2020, commented: “Our advice on vaping in mental health trusts is an important step forward in empowering healthcare professionals to talk more confidently with their patients about the benefits of using e-cigarettes to stop smoking.”
PHE’s recommendation that mental health NHS Trusts encourage smokers to use ecigs has been backed up by Cancer Research UK, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Action on Smoking and Health, the UK Tobacco Advisory Service, the Royal College of GPs, the University of York, the College of Mental Health Pharmacy, the Association of Mental Health Providers, and the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training.
Speaking about the potential benefits of patients vaping instead of smoking, Professor Ann McNeill said: “E-cigarettes provide a new opportunity for people to move away from smoking and avoid the terrible burden of death and disease it causes.”
What did previous studies show?
One, a study led by renown expert Riccardo Polosa found: “A high strength nicotine e-cigarette has the potential to help people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders to quit or reduce smoking. The results provide useful information and direction to augment the existing body of knowledge on smoking cessation for people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders.”
Also, the Cochrane Group, an organisation that conducts gold standard reviews of published work, discovered that people who stopped smoking demonstrated larger reductions in:
·anxiety (from 15 studies)
·depression (from 34 studies)
·mixed anxiety and depression (from 8 studies)
What does the new study say?
Researchers at Yale University discovered that encouraging patients to switch to alternative nicotine products such as vaping increased smoking quit rates by almost 60%.
Professor Jamie Tam said: “Beyond reducing the risk of early death, smoking cessation improves quality of life and increases productivity. Decision makers should remove barriers to mental health care and smoking cessation treatments for people with mental health conditions.”
And don’t forget…
Ultimately, Public Health England state that using UK electronic cigarettes with e-liquid, that have their quality controlled by strict government legislation, are “at least 95% safer than smoking”.