As members of the Mental Health and Smoking Partnership, we have welcomed the publication of the Government’s new Tobacco Control Plan for England today, which for the first time prioritises reducing smoking among people with a mental health condition.
Although smoking rates have fallen significantly over the last 20 years, they have remained stubbornly high among those with poor mental health. Just over two in five adults with a serious mental illness smoke, and it is estimated that around one in three cigarettes are currently smoked by someone with a mental health condition.
The Plan makes clear that action is needed across all mental health services stating: “The majority of mental health provision takes place in the community… shared ownership and responsibility in the local health and social care system is essential…”
New commitments in the plan on smoking and mental health include:
- Comprehensive smokefree policies, including integrated treatment for tobacco dependence, in all mental health services by 2018
- PHE and NHS England will develop materials to support mental health trusts to implement NICE Guidance on helping people using mental health services to quit smoking
- Provide access to training for all health professionals on how to help patients – and particularly patients in mental health services – to quit smoking
- Identify and rectify gaps in data on smoking and mental health which show prevalence, trends and the level of stop smoking support provided in order to have a comprehensive picture of the problem.
- To work to integrate stop smoking support with addiction services and services for people with mental health conditions
- PHE will work with the Mental Health and Smoking Partnership to consider the evidence on how to reduce the prevalence of smoking among people with mental health conditions.
The Plan has adopted recommendations made in the 2016 report on smoking and mental health, “The Stolen Years”, published by Action on Smoking and Health in collaboration with The Association, as well as other mental health and public health organisations.
The Association’s Chief Executive, Kathy Roberts, has commented:
“We are delighted to see the commitment made by the Government in the new Tobacco Control Plan to cut the smoking rates amongst people with mental health conditions. through the implementation of comprehensive smokefree policies, including integrated tobacco dependence treatment pathways, in all mental health services by 2018. However, the Government must recognise the essential role of the voluntary and community sector in mental health provision, and not focus on primary care and hospital settings entirely. It must be emphasised that the majority of mental health provision takes place in the local communities and in order for the ambitions of the new Government plan to be realised, the Government, NHS Trusts, Commissioners and other agencies must work in collaboration with the VCSE sector.”
Commenting on the new plan, Professor Paul Burstow, Chair of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust and co-chair of the Mental Health and Smoking Partnership said:
“I’m delighted to see the emphasis in the new Tobacco Control Plan on the need to bring down rates of smoking among people with a mental health condition, and help close the shocking gap in life expectancy between people with a mental health condition and the rest of the population.
“As the Chair of an NHS Trust, I am also pleased that the Government wants to ensure that staff are appropriately trained and that they are able to link patients to the high quality support people will need to quit. The Mental Health and Smoking Partnership looks forward to working with Government to take this agenda forward.”
Read the full Tobacco Control Plan here.