Hospital sticks to its ban on e-cigarettes

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A hard-line approach to e-cigarettes is here to stay at Wigan Infirmary despite a ban’s being lifted by another hospital trust.

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) Trust bosses have said they prefer to encourage patients and staff to quit smoking using other means rather than vaping.

Nottingham University Hospitals Trust had lifted a ban placed two years ago to allow the use of e-cigarettes on its grounds.

Bosses said the policy, which was approved last month, aimed to help people trying to give up tobacco.

They have changed tack after a review by Public Health England suggested it is 95 per cent safer than smoking traditional cigarettes.

A WWL spokesman said: “All of WWL’s sites are smoke-free, which includes the use of e-cigarettes.

“Being smoke-free helps everyone by making our premises a healthy place to visit, stay and work.

“Rather than promoting the use of e-cigarettes, we prefer to help and support patients to quit by using other nicotine replacement therapies.

“These can be prescribed to patients by our staff, with support provided by our Smoking Cessation Team.

“The Smoking Cessation Team are expert advisers who provide a range of proven methods to help our patients during their stay in hospital.

“They will also provide professional support for any patients wishing to stop smoking.”

Dr Stephen Fowlie, medical director at Nottingham, said: “We have a duty to help our patients and staff make healthy life choices, and can’t ignore the potential benefits of electronic cigarettes as a nicotine replacement therapy.

“We’re now allowing e-cigarettes on our grounds to give our patients, staff and visitors more choice in how they quit smoking.”

Prof John Britton, director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies and respiratory consultant at the Nottingham trust, said: “Helping smokers to quit is one of the most effective things that the trust can do to improve the health of patients.

“We need to encourage all patients and visitors who smoke and find it difficult to abstain while in hospital grounds to use medicinal nicotine, or an electronic cigarette. Approving the use of electronic cigarettes is an important step towards achieving completely smoke-free hospitals in Nottingham.”

Supporters of e-cigarettes say they produce far fewer carcinogens than traditional cigarettes which contain between 4,000 and 7,000 harmful chemicals.

But those with reservations about e-cigs say that while not all of them contain highly addictive nicotine, most do. And e-cigarettes still emit carcinogens. They use liquid nicotine, a highly dangerous substance even in small doses (far more dangerous than tobacco leaves themselves). Some testing suggests that some vaporizers release toxic metals during use.