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NICE consults on draft guidance to help people stop smoking when using hospital services

NICE, the health and social care guidance body, has opened a consultation on draft public health guidance to help people stop smoking in secondary care settings, such as hospitals and community clinics. In particular the draft guidance focuses on acute, maternity and mental health services. The proposed recommendations advise what effective actions can be taken to help both people using these services, and staff, to stop smoking either completely or temporarily.

Treating smoking-related illnesses is estimated to cost the NHS £2.7 billion each year. Smoking is the main cause of preventable illness and premature death in England. A wide range of diseases and conditions are caused by cigarette smoking, including cancers, respiratory diseases, heart and other circulatory diseases. While smoking has been banned by law inside public buildings, most NHS hospitals and clinics also do not allow smoking in their grounds. Although this is primarily intended to protect the health of patients, visitors and staff from exposure to smoke, smoke-free policies help to promote not smoking as normal behaviour for people using secondary care services.

Commenting on the draft guidance, Professor Mike Kelly, Director of the NICE Centre for Public Health said: "The benefits of stopping smoking are well known, and people are already required by law not to smoke inside enclosed or mostly enclosed buildings. This draft guidance sets out proposals on supporting people in a hospital environment not to smoke, as well as supporting the smoke-free policies in hospitals.

"Secondary care providers have a responsibility to protect the health of people who use or work in their services. The draft recommendations propose that this duty of care should also routinely cover providing advice on how to improve health, including stop smoking interventions. Some people do not want to give up smoking completely, so one of the draft recommendations advises they should be helped to abstain from smoking during their stay. It adds that they should be given advice on using nicotine replacement therapies (such as patches or gum) to help with any cravings. We want to hear people's views of these proposals."

The draft recommendations are for a range of healthcare professionals in acute, maternity and mental health settings, with some recommendations also for staff in primary care. The proposals include:

  • Provide everyone with verbal and written information about the hospital's smoke-free policy before their stay, including details of the support available to help them to stop smoking before, during and after their stay
  • Provide patients admitted to hospital with immediate access to pharmacotherapies (for example, nicotine replacement gum) to help them to stop or temporarily abstain from smoking, and offer a referral to a stop smoking adviser who will deliver support during their stay
  • For people using acute, mental health and maternity services, provide intensive stop smoking support, including measurements of exhaled carbon monoxide during each contact, to provide feedback on progress and increase their motivation to stop completely
  • Provide family, other household members and carers of the patient with information about the risks of smoking and secondhand smoke. This should include advice not to smoke near the patient, pregnant woman, mother or baby, and not smoking in the house or car. Offer people who want to stop smoking a referral to a stop smoking adviser
  • Explain to visitors that smoking is not allowed on the premises. Direct people to places on site or in the hospital where they can buy nicotine replacement therapies.

The draft guidance, Smoking cessation: acute, maternity and mental health services, will be open for public consultation from 5 April until 5 June. Comments received will be fully considered by the independent guidance development group to help inform the final guidance.

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Notes to Editors

About the draft guidance

1. The draft guidance, Smoking cessation: acute, maternity and mental health services, will be available at from Friday 5 April 2013. Embargoed copies of the draft guidance are available from the NICE press office on request.

About NICE

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is the independent body responsible for driving improvement and excellence in the health and social care system. We develop guidance, standards and information on high-quality health and social care. We also advise on ways to promote healthy living and prevent ill health.

Formerly the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, our name changed on 1 April 2013 to reflect our new and additional responsibility to develop guidance and set quality standards for social care, as outlined in the Health and Social Care Act (2012).

Our aim is to help practitioners deliver the best possible care and give people the most effective treatments, which are based on the most up-to-date evidence and provide value for money, in order to reduce inequalities and variation.

Our products and resources are produced for the NHS, local authorities, care providers, charities, and anyone who has a responsibility for commissioning or providing healthcare, public health or social care services.

To find out more about what we do, visit our wwebsite and follow us on Twitter: @NICEComms

This page was last updated: 05 April 2013

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Accessibility | Cymraeg | Freedom of information | Vision Impaired | Contact Us | Glossary | Data protection | Copyright | Disclaimer | Terms and conditions

Copyright 2014 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. All rights reserved.