Smoking Ban Drives the Bad Habit Underground

Smoking in secret is not news for many people, especially for patients with mental disorders. And attempts to ban smoking on psychiatric hospitals are simply driving the habit underground, a survey found.
The Mental Health Foundation found that only a minority of hospital sections in England have implemented the ban successfully.
The problem is that the new smoking ban rose the “secret smoking” and staves displeasure.
But the government’s mental health chief explained that he had visited many locals where a ban had been smoothly implemented.
Some 85% of 109 respondents to the survey said that the ban, which came into effect in July 2008, had not been implemented effectively.
Anti-smoking researchers observed that many patients had taken to smoking in secret, with staff feeling the need to turn a blind eye, particularly when patients were very sick.
Another problem featured by researchers was that many locals did not have safe outdoor space where patients could smoke.
Even where such a space is, respondents reported that the need to accompany patients outside to smoke was a drain on staff time and resources.
Many respondents also added that they were unpleasant with their enforcement role, especially where patients had no opportunity to smoke outside.
Some staves reported that they feel more like police than nurses, and others said that patients had respond aggressively when requested to stop smoking.
Many staves also increased the interest about the possible fire risks showed by secret smoking and the disposal of cigarette butts.
Researchers added: “Where access to an outside space is limited or unavailable, staff seems to be in the difficult position of either risking breaking the law by turning a blind eye, or denying a patient the right to smoke completely.”
The report found that widespread staff and patient meeting had been the key to success in those units who had implemented a ban effectively.
Also an important help for patients which smoke can be nicotine replacement therapy.
Vicki Nash, of the mental health charity Mind, said: “Forcing people to stop smoking suddenly on access to hospital when they are already likely to be distressed is inappropriate and could exaggerate anxiety”.
In general people with mental health problems are twice more likely to smoke than healthy people, so it’s urgent that hospital locals are furnished to deal with this and can either help patients to quit or resource the option to smoke outside.

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