The World Health Organisation’s World Mental Health Day takes place this week. UK experts say that tobacco places an unfair health inequality on those experiencing mental health problems and that switching from smoking to vaping can play a part in improving mental health.
What is World Mental Health Day?
This is the day when the World Health Organisation encourages national governments to “make sure that mental health is treated on a par with physical health.”
What has World Mental Health Day to do with smoking or electronic cigarettes?
This year, the general comments have been joined by ones from experts and organisations recommending that smokers switching to vaping can improve their mental health.
Who has made comments about switching to UK E-Liquids and E-Cigs?
The National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training used Twitter to tell smokers experiencing mental health problems: “It’s #WorldMentalHealthDay. One of the top gains for people with mental ill health when they stop #smoking is that they may need fewer meds. This leads to fewer side effects & better quality of life all around. It’s the smoke that causes the problem, not the nicotine.”
What is The National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training?
The Centre develops effective evidence-based training materials on behalf of the NHS for smoking cessation personnel and also conducts its own research.
Who else has spoken about switching to vaping?
Louise Ross, the Chair of the New Nicotine Alliance, an independent consumer-led charity promoting reduced harm alternatives to tobacco, said: “Stopping smoking for World Mental Health Day 2022 doesn’t have to be a loss of pleasure; vaping can fill the gap and is a pleasant way of getting nicotine.”
Who is Louise Ross and what does she know about e-cigarettes?
Louise Ross used to be the lead at the quit smoking service. Initially a sceptic, she reviewed the evidence and saw how vaping worked for her clients first-hand. Through persistence, Louise convinced Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust to incorporate e-cigs into its mental health units. From there, she advocated rolling out supporting vaping for smokers experiencing mental health issues across the whole of the NHS.
Was this met with success?
Working with The National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training, Louise Ross helped to develop a comprehensive guide on e-cigs and mental health. The document was welcomed by Martin Dockrell, the then Tobacco Control Programme Lead for Public Health England.
Martin Dockrell said: “Stop Smoking service managers tell me they would like to offer vapes to quitters, but complications get in the way. Help is at hand. NCSCT has produced a road map to navigate the obstacles. NICE now offers clear guidance on the use of vapes to quit smoking.
“Vapes are effective and cost-effective, indeed they are more effective than the meds we mostly use now. The guide talks you through the key questions about what products you want to procure and provide, to whom and with which partners. It also provides a host of case studies from the localities who have blazed the trail.”
Why is smoking an issue for those experiencing poor mental health?
Firstly, those experiencing poor mental health are not only likely to be smokers, but they are more likely to be heavy smokers. Also, traditional views used to be that smoking helped them to deal with their problems – or, at least, was something that could be focussed on when they were in recovery.
Dr Elena Ratschen commented: “Until very recently, smoking has remained deeply embedded within the culture of mental health care and treatment settings, where it was commonly accepted as a coping mechanism for patients. We now know that smoking worsens mental illness symptoms and may even be linked to its development.
“There is an urgent need to address smoking-related inequalities in mental health. People with mental illness lose up to 20 years of life expectancy, mainly to consequences of smoking and often cancer.”
University College London’s Professor Shahab has also pointed out: “There is growing evidence that e-cigarettes can help smokers kick the habit of a lifetime and that these devices may be particularly helpful for smokers with common mental health conditions.”
So, can vaping work as part of a quit attempt?
Absolutely. Recent evidence shows that e-cigarettes are not just the UK’s favourite method of quitting smoking, but it works better than any other single approach too. It is now supported across the country in the NHS, smoking cessation services and most mental health units. UK e-liquids and vape kits have come a long way in recent times, you are bound to find something that works for you to support your quit attempt now.