One of the UK’s largest mental health hospitals is to hand out free e-cigarettes to those trying to quit smoking, in a deal with a vaping retailer.

The trust said it would help patients “transform” their health.

But critics last night said the deal – believed to be the first of its kind – was “extraordinary” at a time when the safety of vaping is under increasing scrutiny.

The Ladywell Unit at Lewisham hospital is to provide patients with Hexa starting kits from vaping retailer VPZ.

Every patient who smokers will be offered a £20 kit until the first 100 have been used.

The project, will then be reviewed, but “early success” indicates it will continue.

Last week departing chief medical officer Prof Dame Sally Davies said she would favour a ban on flavoured e-cigarettes, in line with plans announced by  US President Donald Trump after a spate of vaping-related deaths.

Prof Martin McKee, professor of European Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said: “This is an extraordinary time for the NHS to engage in a project like this, in light of what we are seeing in the United States, and the risks of vaping.”

People with mental health problems are far more likely to smoke than the general population.

Smoking rates among adults with depression in the UK are about twice as high as among other adults while people with schizophrenia are three times more likely to smoke than other people.

Mary Yates, Nurse Consultant, Health Promotion & Wellbeing at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Smoking traps vulnerable people in poverty because it is so expensive.

Read full article here.

Laura Donnelly – Telegraph – October 17, 2019.

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