No Smoking Day 2015 - focus on mental health

Posted on 9th March, 2015

Sue Moger (Occupational Therapist at the Russell Clinic, left) and Sarah Leggatt (Stop Smoking Assistant Practitioner), who have been working together on the project at the Russell Clinic in Exeter. On 11 March, The British Heart Foundation’s No Smoking Day returns for its 32nd year. The annual campaign inspires and helps smokers who want to quit. This year, over one million smokers are expected to use No Smoking Day to quit. As well as supporting as many smokers as possible to take part and begin their smoke-free lives from 11 March, Devon County Council Public Health has been working with Devon Partnership NHS Trust to provide support for people with mental health issues – who are particularly susceptible to the damaging effects of smoking. Smoking prevalence in Devon is 16.4%, lower than the national average.  However, smoking rates among adults with a common mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety, are almost twice as high as those of other adults, and three times higher for those people with conditions such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Lesley Thomas, Public Health Programme Manager for Tobacco Control, said:  “People with mental health problems tend to smoke more heavily and be more dependent on nicotine.  They are just as likely to want to stop smoking but often lack confidence in their ability to quit and, historically, have not routinely been offered specialist support to quit.  I am pleased to say that this is now changing in Devon.” The National Institute for Clinical Health (NICE) published Tobacco: harm-reduction approaches to smoking in 2013.  This recommended that smokers that were not ready to quit should consider using a harm reduction pathway such as cutting down using nicotine replacement therapy prior to quitting.  Lynne Jeary, who coordinates the stop smoking programme across Devon Partnership NHS Trust, says:  “Supporting people with mental health needs to quit smoking poses some very specific challenges – especially when people are severely unwell and heavily dependent upon nicotine.  We are leading the way in the south west in tackling the issue and we are having some very encouraging results.  “At Langdon Hospital in Dawlish, home of our secure services, many of our wards are now entirely smoke-free and we are hopeful that the whole site will be smoke-free by the end of the year.  At our Haldon eating disorders service in Exeter, we have made a significant cultural shift and supporting smokers to quit is now an integral part of their care and wellbeing plan.  It is discussed with them before they are admitted onto the ward and throughout their stay with us.” At the Russell Clinic in Exeter, the Trust is piloting a 15 week cut-down-to-quit programme with support from Health Promotion Devon’s Stop Smoking Service (which is funded by Devon County Council Public Health).  People who want to quit have been using nicotine replacement therapy to reduce their tobacco use with the aim of setting a Quit Day of No Smoking Day on 11 March.  Sue Moger, Occupational Therapist at the Russell Clinic, says:  “Understandably, we had a few concerns expressed by smokers when we first announced the pilot, but we have gradually worked with people to understand and overcome most of them.  We now have a small group of people who are showing genuine determination and commitment to cut down and stop smoking - which is a real breakthrough.  It's a great project and the partnership with Sarah Leggatt from Health Promotion Devon's Stop Smoking Service is working really well."
As part of the No Smoking Day campaign, support to everyone is offered through a new, free One Day Quit tool, which delivers supportive e-mails and texts in the run up to No Smoking Day and then additional support on the day. At the end of No Smoking Day, people will be encouraged to sign up for the Smokefree four-week programme.