With many hospitals now becoming smoke-free zones, it’s rare to see anyone – patients, visitors, or staff – hanging around outside hospital entrances smoking cigarettes. You might just see people vaping there more often though, especially if the steps taken by two West Midlands hospitals are repeated elsewhere.
Birmingham City Hospital and Sandwell General Hospital, both operated by the Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, now sell a range of vaping products. A vape shop has been opened on each site, encouraging patients and visitors to consider switching to the safer option instead of continuing to smoke.
25% of patients thought to be smokers
The NHS sees the consequences of smoking every day. Research suggests around 25% of hospital beds are occupied by smokers. The current percentage of people in the UK who smoke is around 14.7%. That suggests there is a higher chance of smokers landing in hospital when compared to the population in general.
While smoking rates are dropping fast, the NHS is keen to encourage more people to quit smoking and try vaping instead. An independent review has suggested e-cigs are 95% less harmful than smoking tobacco. It seems a common-sense move, therefore, to open vape shops in hospitals, where patients and staff may be encouraged to make the change.
An impulse buy
We’re all familiar with impulse buys – products we want to buy the moment we see them, and therefore we do just that. By introducing a range of vaping products in hospitals, it’s thought that more smokers might make the snap decision to try and quit.
The idea of offering advice on how to quit while smokers are in hospital is a good one. Until now, however, the supplies have not been on hand to encourage the change to take place. It’s one thing to give someone information on vaping and how to swap from smoking to e-cigs, but quite another to offer the products right there in the hospital.
No doubt many NHS trusts are looking at the progress made in these two West Midlands hospitals to see what happens. If the scheme is a success, we can expect it to be introduced in other hospitals across the country very soon. It could end up leading to another significant drop in smoking rates in the next few years.
Do you think this is a good idea? Would you like to see vaping shops open in other hospitals across the UK? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.