Public Health England Launch Campaign to Make NHS Tobacco-Free

Quitters Set to Get Support from PHE Vaping Policy


“The evidence shows that smoking and vaping are not the same: unlike cigarette smoke, there is no evidence so far that exposure to secondhand vapour is harmful. Furthermore, half of vapers in the UK have stopped smoking and around a third of the remainder are using them as part of a quit attempt.”

Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive, Public Health England

Duncan Selbie wrote the above in a blog for Public Health England back in December last year.  He’d just written to the Chief Executive of every NHS Trust in England asking for their personal commitment to a tobacco-free NHS.


New Campaign

Now Public Health England has launched a campaign to make the NHS completely tobacco-free by supporting people who are smokers and helping them to quit.

And that’s why Duncan Selbie’s words echo throughout the vaping world. It would seem that vaping plays a big part as a support aid, with Public Health England last year compiling some key principles on the use of ecigarettes around hospital grounds.

“E-cigarettes have significant potential to help reduce tobacco use and the serious harm it causes to smokers, those around them and wider society.

“Recognition of this should be at the centre of policies on e-cigarette use in public places and workplaces, while e-cigarettes are not currently available as licensed medicines, it is expected that products will come onto the market that can be prescribed on the NHS by GPs and other healthcare professionals alongside other stop smoking medicines.

“E-cigarettes are used almost exclusively by smokers and ex-smokers and are now the most popular stop smoking aid in England. To support smokers to stop smoking and stay smokefree, a more enabling approach may be appropriate in relation to vaping to make it an easier choice than smoking.

“In particular, vapers should not be required to use the same space as smokers, as this could undermine their ability to quit smoking and stay smokefree, particularly among those most heavily addicted.”

Use of e-cigarettes in public places and workplaces – Public Health England, July 2016

The Burden of Smoking

In his blog Mr Selbie wrote that the burden of smoking on the NHS is massive: in 2014-15, around 475,000 hospital admissions in England were attributable to smoking and the total annual cost is estimated at £2bn, with a further £1.1bn in social care costs.

He said “We can reach some of those 7 million smokers through health services; they are in hospital waiting rooms, consulting rooms and beds, and many are NHS staff. As many as 25% of patients in our acute hospital beds are smokers.”

According to one report Some trusts now employ wardens to patrol the areas for smokers, while others have allowed ecigarettes to be used in single rooms.

Many hospitals are already smoke free in their grounds and buildings but staff and patients disregard the rules.