Mental health organization endorses vaping
Statistics shows that the smoking rates among patients suffering from mental health disorders tend to be dramatically higher than those associated with the general population. As an example, the website Schizophrenia.com estimates that approximately 90 percent of schizophrenics smoke combustible cigarettes as a way to manage their symptoms and self-medicate.
Doctors are often torn. Should they continue to embrace smoking for their mental health patients, or should they coach their patients towards vaping and other nicotine replacement therapies? Unfortunately, the decision is not always easy. In a recently released public statement just last month, the Mental Health & Smoking Partnership (MHSP) says that mental health patients typically require larger doses of nicotine replacement therapies and for longer durations compared to the conventional smoker trying to quit.
When appropriately tailored these interventions are also effective for people with mental health conditions. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is effective, but is likely to be required in high doses, for longer durations and with more intensive behavioural support than in the general population of smokers. Provision of the nicotine that smokers are addicted to without the harmful components of tobacco smoke can prevent most of the harm from smoking.”
The MHSP also says that people suffering from mental health issues are twice as likely to be smokers than the general population. While smoking rates among the general population are steadily declining worldwide in the past twenty years, related statistics associated with the mental health community are reaching nearly epidemic proportions.
Furthermore, that data also shows that people suffering from mental health disorders have a life expectancy rate that is ten to twenty years less than the general population, and the medical community largely attributes these diminished lifespans to smoking-related illnesses.
MHSP: ‘Vaping is different than smoking.’
There are numerous vaping studies suggesting that vaping is significantly less harmful than smoking. A recent report published by a group of UK scientists in coordination with the South London and Maudsley (SLaM) National Health Service Foundation Trust focusses specifically on mental health patients.
In the study, the scientists conclude that allowing mental health patients to vape rather than asking them to quit smoking can result in a 39 percent reduction in physical assaults on mental healthcare workers per month. After all, quitting smoking causes an undeniable amount of extra emotional stress, regardless of the mental state of the smoker at the time. The vaping study entitled Effect of implementation of a smoke-free policy on physical violence in a psychiatric inpatient setting: an interrupted time series analysis is available on The Lancet Psychiatry website.
MHSP supports these claims while also noting that vaping is very different than smoking because the liquid nicotine of e-cigs is free of the tar and toxins found in combustible tobacco that are known to cause cancer and other smoking related illnesses.
“Vaping is different to smoking. Electronic cigarette use does not meet either the legal or clinical definition of smoking. It is therefore a matter for employers (in partnership with their employees), managers and commissioners of health services to determine whether and where to permit electronic cigarette use in enclosed public places, including in-patient facilities for people with mental health conditions. It is also a matter for employers, managers and commissioners to determine whether to permit electronic cigarette use in grounds attached to such premises. There is no current evidence that secondary vapour from electronic cigarettes is a significant risk to non-users.”
The MHSP statement goes on to state that mental health facilities should also be allowed to provide separate areas for smoking and vaping because being around cigarette smoke can be a contributing factor to a relapse in smoking. The organizational also suggests that mental health facilities should clearly define and publicly post all policies regarding electronic cigarette use on-premises.
In cases where the facility also operates a retail outlet, the MHSP suggests facilities should also be allowed to sell these products as a sign of open support for the many possible health benefits of switching from smoking to vaping. The MHSP statement endorsing vaping is also promoted on the Cancer Research UK website, as further evidence of support by another reputable medical agency.
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