A major psychiatry organization has recently come out in full support of vaping as a smoking cessation tool for patients
Even with everything the anti-tobacco movement has been able to accomplish over the last 30 years, smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease across the globe. That being said, their efforts haven’t been fruitless, as almost every demographic of people has seen dramatically reduced smoking rates. But one group that this has not been the case for is those with severe mental health issues. In fact, in these groups, the smoking rate can get as high as 90%.
This is due to several reasons, not least of which is that quitting can often worsen symptoms, making the already arduous process of quitting that much more difficult. As such, the health professionals who work with these patients have long been searching for a way to more effectively help them quit. While traditional nicotine replacement therapies, such as patches and gum, have been able to address some of the physical symptoms of withdrawal, vaping has been shown to foster some incredible changes. That’s why the UK based Mental Health and Smoking Partnership recently decided to officially endorse vaping as a smoking cessation device.
It took plenty of discussion among the physicians that make up the MHSP, but they finally concluded that all mental health professionals should encourage their patients who smoke to attempt quitting using e-cigarettes. For anyone, quitting smoking is one of the hardest habits to break, but for those who already deal with lots of extra stress, it can become dangerous. But these challenges shouldn’t indicate mental health patients don’t have any interest in quitting, as according to the MHSP press release, individuals who suffer from mental health challenges are just as likely to desire an end to their smoking as anyone.
As such, they believe it’s best to try and lower these smoking rates while adhering to “parity of esteem,” meaning mental health issues must get equal attention as physical ones. That lines up with what another psychological organization had to say last year about the role vaping plays in smoking cessation. The British Psychological Society updated their guidelines last fall to reflect their changing understanding of the value of e-cigarettes. They believe vaping has proven so effective at helping all types of patients quit because it addresses the psychological cues that go along with smoking, not just the nicotine addiction. For example, the act of placing something in your mouth, or seeing a cloud.
MHSP’s Principles for Health Professionals
In addition to their endorsement of vaping, the MHSP also included in their press release a set of eight principles to follow for health professionals as well as support staff. Many of these are precisely what you would expect, such as indicating that access to smoking cessation tools is of vital importance to the health of the general public, especially for those with mental health issues. Or that acceptance and support of smoke-free policies by everyone involved is key to successful attempts.
But other portions of the release seem to fall in line with a very pro-vaping stance. This includes the idea that vapers should not be relegated to smoking only areas, but preferably either allowed to vape in public or be given specific zones where they won’t be exposed to traditional smoke, which could potentially lead to a relapse. But possibly the most critical stance taken in their set of principles is the idea that vaping and smoking are not the same. Far too many people are still under the false perception that the two are essentially equivalent. The fact is that e-cigarette vapor does not meet legal or clinical definitions of smoke, and has never been shown to cause issues with bystanders.
It’s great to see such reputable organizations changing the course and deciding to back vaping. While the long-term research on vaping is still being conducted, what we do know for sure is just how bad for you smoking is. What we also know is that by all the ways we’ve been able to test thus far, vaping has been shown to be at least 95% safer than smoking. Given those facts, it’s unfortunate so few people seem to understand how vaping could be one of the most important medical devices in a generation.
Not only is it safer than smoking and shown to help smokers quit by providing nicotine, but vaping may also work so well thanks to more subtle factors such as the psychological cues it shares with the act of smoking. If we genuinely want to end the smoking epidemic once and for all, it’s vital that we work to support the value of e-cigarettes. Especially for those who deal with severe mental health issues, it may be the best chance they ever have to end their dependence on smoking.
Do you think it’s a big deal the MHSP backed vaping? How do you think vaping had the most significant impact on you when switching? What’s the best way to help spread the real value of e-cigarettes? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.