A position statement from Steve Brown, Director of Public Health in Devon and the chair of the Smokefree Devon Alliance
The last decade has seen a widening of health inequalities and a stalling of life expectancy. It is critical that we do what we can to change this, both because it is the right thing to do, but also because we have a duty to do so. Smoking has been identified as the single biggest cause of inequality in death rates in the UK. The importance and significance of work to reduce this harm must not go unrecognised.
As Director of Public Health for Devon, and chair of the Smokefree Devon Alliance, I wish to confirm my full support for the increased prioritisation of treating tobacco dependence within secondary care, using approaches which take a broad, system view.
Policy and published guidance clearly support the establishment of a smokefree policy within NHS organisations. This statement sets out my support and encouragement for the inclusion of all the following elements in the development and implementation of a smokefree policy within secondary care:
- Providing leadership within the trust by assigning a clinical or medical director to lead on treating tobacco dependence within secondary care services
- Planning communications to encourage a cultural change within the organisation, and ensure widespread knowledge, acceptance of and compliance with the smokefree policy. This should involve providing information before planned use of secondary care for both patients and their visitors or carers.
- Identifying people who smoke and offering referral to tobacco dependence treatment services
- Providing training for staff in identifying, advising and treating tobacco dependence
- Creating a fully smokefree grounds policy, including ensuring there are no designated outdoor smoking areas
- Advising on and providing stop smoking pharmacotherapies, including making these available in hospital
- Providing support for staff to stop smoking
To be successful, these elements need to be done in combination. Addressing one aspect in isolation will not lead to the success needed to drive down inequalities and preventable ill health caused by tobacco in Devon. Each strand has an important role to play to support the success of another.
Our local acute and mental health trusts in Devon have shown some excellent progress towards creating a smokefree NHS. The ongoing goal of the Smokefree Devon Alliance task and finish group is to work collaboratively to address tobacco dependence within acute and mental health trusts, across the wider Devon footprint, which promises some exciting progress for the future. The Smokefree Devon Alliance commits to continuing to support trusts with this important work.
Director of Public Health, Devon
Chair of the Smokefree Devon Alliance