Support promised for NHS staff under plans for a smoke-free workforce

NHS staff who smoke will be given more support to quit under government plans to cut the number of smokers in England.

NHS staff who smoke will be given more support to quit under government plans to cut the number of smokers in England.

Hospitals will be told to become 'smoke-free'.  Picture: Neil O'Connor

Unveiling its Tobacco Control Plan, the government said it wants NHS employers to move away from cultures in which smoking is used as a way to build relationships with patients, or in which cigarettes and smoking breaks are used as part of a reward system. 

Access to treatment

Measures outlined in the plan include increasing access to evidence-based treatments for NHS staff and patients, and encouraging staff to act as role models for a 'completely smoke-free NHS estate' by 2020.

'For any hospital, becoming smoke-free is more than simply telling patients, staff and visitors where they can and cannot smoke,' the plan states.

The government said it wants to set a 'bold ambition for a smoke-free generation', with a range of targets aimed at adult smokers, teenagers and pregnant women.

Target reductions

It wants to cut smoking rates among adults to 12% or less by 2022, from 15.5% at present. Regular smoking among 15-year-olds should drop from 8% to 3% or less by 2022, under the plan. Ministers also want to almost halve smoking in pregnancy by 2022, from 10.7% at present to 6% or under.

Being classed as 'smoke-free' would mean smoking rates would fall to 5% or under.

Under the plan, local areas will be encouraged to develop their own tobacco control strategies and local 'smoke-free pregnancy champions' will encourage mothers-to-be to quit.


There will be a focus on using e-cigarettes and other stop-smoking devices as aids to quitting.

Public Health England will update its evidence report on e-cigarettes and other devices annually until the end of 2022 and include messages about the relative safety of e-cigarettes in stop-smoking campaigns.

There will be more help for smokers with mental health problems – figures show that more than 40% of adults with a serious mental illness smoke.

Mental health sites

All mental health inpatient service sites will aim to be smoke-free by 2018, and prisons will receive more support to become smoke-free, the plan states.

There are 7.3 million adult smokers in England and more than 200 people a day die from a smoking-related illness that could have been prevented.

Public health minister Steve Brine said: 'Smoking continues to kill hundreds of people a day in England, and we know the harms fall hardest on some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society.'

'The polluter should pay'

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health said funding must be found if the government is to achieve its vision of a smoke-free generation.

'The tobacco industry should be made to pay through a licence fee on the "polluter pays" principle,' she said.

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