Mental health settings to become smoke-free across Wales

From 1st September 2022, Welsh Government legislation requires all mental health settings to be entirely smoke-free. This includes all residential units, wards, buildings, grounds and vehicles on our site.

Since March 2021 it has been illegal to smoke on hospital grounds, however, under this regulation mental health settings were allowed to identify designated smoking areas in enclosed courtyards. In the interest of patient health, these exceptions have been removed from the regulation with effect from 1st September 2022. Mental health settings in England have been smoke-free since 2018.

Based on best practice and the evidence available around implementation, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board will be adopting a phased approach to support the transition with a view to fully implement the change by winter. This will allow us to best support existing inpatients and continue to tailor our approach based on learning and feedback.

Help us clear the air

Cardiff and Vale UHB recognises how important smoking can be to patients. However, there are significant health benefits to giving up smoking. Our staff will be on hand to provide advice and support through the implementation of the new requirements – as well as on an ongoing basis. Support for smokers is going to be an increasingly important part of patients’ individual care plans.

Our staff will have open conversations with patients about smoking and identify support mechanisms that are right for them. Nicotine Replacement Therapy will be available to inpatients who are smokers and wish to treat or prevent cravings or withdrawal symptoms. This will be subject to their individual needs and circumstances.

People with mental health issues are much more likely to be smokers and smoking can contribute to the severity of these mental health issues. Smoking is also one of the leading causes of reduced life expectancy for people with mental health issues.

Stopping smoking has a positive impact on mental health. Evidence shows that stopping smoking leads to improved mood and quality of life, as well as reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Studies have shown that people with mental health issues are just as likely to want to quit, and are just as able to quit as the general population if offered the right support. Smokers are also four times more likely to stop smoking using an NHS Stop Smoking Service than if they try to quit alone.

A spokesperson for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, said: “There is no doubt this will be a difficult transition for many of our patients but the benefits of stopping smoking, for individuals, patients, visitors and our staff is clear. We’re committed to working with inpatients as part of their individual care plans to provide tailored support. This will be an opportunity for patients to access some brilliant support that will give them the best possible chance of quitting smoking. We are engaging with inpatients to prepare them for the implementation of this legislation and are also working closely with our stakeholders, many of whom have excellent relationships with our service users and patients, to enhance how we provide smoking cessation guidance and support to service users. We encourage patients to have open conversations with staff about smoking.”

Health Board staff will be supportive when challenging patients who are observed smoking and use this as an opportunity to discuss smoking and signpost the support available. However, patients should note that smoke-free legislation means that it is illegal to smoke on hospital grounds and anyone found smoking by enforcement can face a Fixed Penalty Notice of £100.

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