Smoking to be stubbed out in Mental Health Inpatient Unit

The Mental Health Inpatient Unit (MHIPU) at the Broken Hill Health Service is going tobacco free for the health of patients, visitors and staff on World No Tobacco Day, Friday, 31 May 2019.

“Compared to the general community, people with a mental illness are more likely to smoke. This means they experience disproportionate levels of smoking-related morbidity and mortality, such as cardiovascular disease, complications of diabetes, cancers and respiratory illnesses,” said Melissa McInnes, Drug and Alcohol Clinical Nurse Consultant. They are also less likely to seek treatment for their physical health conditions, leading to a poorer quality and shortened length of life.

“The reasons people with a mental illness smoke are complex. However, contrary to popular belief, many people seriously want to quit and are capable of doing so with the right support,” said Ms McInnes.

Health care providers are in the unique position in helping tobacco users to quit. Counselling and Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) can more than double the chance that a smoker who tries to quit will succeed.

“Evidence shows if a health care provider routinely asks about tobacco use and advises tobacco users to stop, they have the potential to reach more than 80% of all tobacco users per year. This can potentially help 40% of our patients that smoke to make a quit attempt with 2-3% of those receiving brief advice quitting successfully,” said Ms McInnes.

Although smoking is banned in all hospitals and mental health units in NSW, patients have been able to keep tobacco products with them. Going tobacco free means that tobacco products won’t be stored in patient’s lockers or in the staff station. Instead, people will be encouraged to send cigarettes home. Staff and visitors will be encouraged not to smoke before entering the unit so that the smell of smoke doesn’t trigger a craving for people unable to leave.

On admission to the ward, everyone will be asked about their smoking status. People who smoke will be offered free NRT tailored to their needs, and a referral to Quitline. They can also get a month’s supply of NRT plus support to continue the good work when they go home.

The health reasons for giving up smoking are clear, and there are immediate and long-term benefits of quitting. In going tobacco free, Far West Local Health District hopes to encourage better health for people living with mental illness.

Please support us and join us for our launch to be a Tobacco Free Ward!

Information and stats accessed through: Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2016 Mar; 13(3): 256. And the WHO, Cancer Council NSW and SANE websites2019.


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