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A smoke-free England by 2030

On National No Smoking Day, Mary Yates, nurse consultant at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, shares her excitement about working towards a smoke-free England.

Smoke free teamOur government has announced that England will be completely smoke free by 2030, and I’m excited to be working towards achieving this ambition.

It’s tragic that 200 people die every day from a preventable smoking related illness. We need to step up and help the 7 million people who are still smoking, especially those with mental health problems.

In 2018, the Royal College of Physicians announced:

Our consistent failure to act on the largest avoidable cause of premature death and disability in the UK needs to be remedied. Smoking cessation should be incorporated, as a priority, as a systematic and opt-out component of all NHS services to complement local authority services, and delivered in smoke-free settings.

A shift in focus

The 2019 NHS Long Term plan demanded that we shift our focus from illness and disease to prevention and health promotion. It announced a new service model for hospital and community care with support for people who smoke playing a central role.

The promise is that by 2023/24, all people admitted to hospital who smoke will be offered NHS-funded tobacco treatment services. This will be adapted for expectant mothers, their partners, specialist mental health services, and in learning disability services. It will include the option for smokers to switch to e-cigarettes whilst in inpatient mental health settings.

We are in a good place to lead this vital work at Kings Health Partners.  King’s College Hospital and Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trusts have been chosen as early implementers of this new opt-out model. South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust has expanded its team so that an integrated care model can be tested across all care pathways.

Let’s hope that this targeted investment with sick smokers across our organisations will yield tangible benefits, for patients, communities and the NHS.

So, what can we all do to help?

We all know smokers; they are in our family, friendship groups, work, and patient groups.  A few words of support and encouragement might be all that’s needed to steer smokers towards the available support. Find out what smoking cessation support is available in your community and share this with smokers, nudges like this are the springboards to success. If you are a health care professional, record smoking status, provide brief advice and ensuring access to treatment is provided.

More information is available in the latest Health Matters: smoking and mental health.

What about e-cigarettes?

There are now 3.6 million vapers in England, most are ex or current adult smokers. Vaping is the most popular way of quitting in this country and there is strong reassurance from Public Health England that vaping is at least 95% safer than continuing to smoke. However, to minimise risk of lung injury we should advise vapers not to add tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or vitamin E to their device.  It is also advisable to purchase e-cigarette products from a reputable source.  

All smokers should quit as soon as possible and for good, with our words of encouragement and access to the best treatments in smoke-free environments we can look forward to being the first smoke-free city in the world – imagine that!

King’s Health Partners Mind & Body is committed to joining up mental and physical healthcare, training and research to improve health outcomes for our patients and service users. 

The King’s Health Partners Addictions Clinical Academic Group covers illicit drugs, alcohol and tobacco addiction and is one of the largest providers of NHS addictions services in the UK.

[Picture rear row left to right; Ese Ojo, Suzanne Mark, Andrea Milbrandt, Gill Goldie, Georgia Whyte, Obuko Obiuwevbi, Chris Junak, Mary Yates. Front row left to right; Rebecca Heath, Matthew O’Gorman, Tracy Davies, Melissa Wood and Jamal John.]