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Thursday
Jun042015

Financial incentives offered to force mental health patients to quit smoking

Public Health England will today publish "new guidance to reduce high smoking rates among patients in mental health units".

According to a press release:

New figures from Public Health England (PHE) and NHS England shine fresh light on the high smoking rates among people living with mental health problems.

Nationally 33% of people with a mental health problem smoke compared to 18.7% in the population as a whole. A PHE and NHS England survey found that smoking rates among service users in mental health units is even higher at 64%. High smoking rates among people with mental health problems are the single largest contributor to their 10 to 20-year reduced life expectancy.

We're told that:

Alongside the physical health improvements, an increasing body of research is finding that mental health can be improved by stopping smoking. Contrary to the myth, evidence shows that stopping smoking is associated with reduced depression, anxiety, stress and improved positive mood and quality of life.

Evidence also shows that people who smoke often require higher doses of psychotropic medication as smoking increases the metabolism of these drugs. Smoking is estimated to increase psychotropic drug costs in the UK by up to £40m per year. Medical guidelines indicate stopping smoking can lead to reductions in dosage and usage of psychotropic drugs which benefits the patient by reducing the side-effects associated with these medications.

Significantly, the PHE press release adds:

The guidance coincides with new financial incentives from NHS England, which encourages mental health care providers to support users in secure settings to stop smoking.

In other words, force mental health patients to quit smoking and their 'health care providers' will benefit financially. What sort of racket is this?

Prompted by PHE's press release, BBC Radio 4's Today programme had an exclusive report on the issue at 7.20 this morning.

Forest was invited to respond with a short statement and this is it:

"Smoking is not just about health, although many smokers believe it helps reduce anxiety and stress. If some mental health patients enjoy smoking why should they be denied that pleasure?

"Public Health England has no right to deny people choice. Who are they to dictate whether or not a mental health patient can smoke a product that is legally available to every other adult in Britain?

"What PHE is proposing is discrimination. It will target unfairly a group of people who, being dependent on others, have little alternative other than to comply."

Only one sentence made it into Today's report ("Public Health England has no right to deny people choice") but we were quoted at greater length here:

Mental health patients 'smoke three times as much' (BBC News)

Update: On April 12 I wrote this post, Commonsense and decency sacrificed on the altar of public health.

The sentiments are even more relevant today, especially this passage:

The 'caring' profession is nothing of the sort. All they care about is their wretched no smoking policy which must be obeyed at all cost. Commonsense and decency are sacrificed on the altar of public health. What's happening is inhumane yet no-one is willing to do anything about it.

Newspapers report that no smoking rules are being ignored by many patients. I welcome that but what about those who are immobile or have mental health problems? They're being discriminated against because they don't have a choice. Being dependent on others they have no alternative other than to comply with a nasty, vindictive regulation that puts ideology before humanity.

Nothing further to add, m'lud.

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Reader Comments (3)

Still disapproving of the use of the word thugs Simon? Sorry but this comes across as bullying in one of it's worst forms, not to mention this is a prize example of 'most smokers are mental' propaganda.

Thursday, June 4, 2015 at 15:09 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

Oh dear. I know you don’t like “that” analogy, Simon, so I won’t mention the forbidden word, but, err, didn’t those “unmentionable” people start applying their “techniques” first of all on people with disabilities (and including those suffering from mental illness) who were confined to institutions? Clearly the “techniques” here differ somewhat (thankfully, for the moment), but the underlying principle – “try it out first on the ones who can’t get away, and that few people are that much bothered about” – has some worrying similarities, that even you, surely, Simon, must be able to see, unpalatable though it may be?

This is (or should be) an extremely concerning move to everyone – smokers and non-smokers alike. It is cruel and unfair in the extreme. And the most worrying thing of all is that the smug, safe conformists who seem to make up the majority of our population these days, seem to be determined to turn a blind eye to it all, just like they did before. It seems the arrogance of those in Tobacco Control is well placed after all – history is repeating itself once again; pretty much everyone thinks that it won’t affect them or anyone they know, pretty much everyone believes it when they are told that these actions are ultimately “for the good of” those subject to this “care,” and I’ll bet that in a couple of decades or so’s time, pretty much everyone, having wilfully closed their eyes to what is going on right under their noses, will be wringing their hands in artificial regret (just like before), putting on the appropriately false “shocked” looks (just like before), shaking their heads in disbelief and proclaiming – just like before – that “we just never knew …”

Sorry Simon, I know you hate this analogy, but the actions of the anti-smoking zealots gets closer and closer with every step. Maybe, without using "the word" it's time to start highlighting the similarities?

Friday, June 5, 2015 at 2:21 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

@Misty - When everyone knows what you mean despite not using The Word - then not using it begins to look like collusion - PC at its worst.

I truly despair of this country - we seem to have lost all sense of decency and integrity, and tobacco control encapsulates the evil of rank hypocrisy masquerading as care.

Friday, June 5, 2015 at 20:17 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

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