The study was carried out by Dr. Penelope Truman from Massey University’s School of Health Sciences, community specialist detox nurse Moira Gilmour and physician Dr Geoffrey Robinson from the Capital and Coast District Health Board. Truman said that their research is a clear indication that e-cigarettes can help patients who are hospitalized for alcohol and mental health problems curb their habit. Hence added Truman, health authorities should look into allowing the use of e-cigarettes in hospitals.
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The researchers looked at 40 patients who were split into two cohorts between 2013 and 2016. Dr Truman said that the use of e-cigarettes led to a similar reduction in smoking as when the patients were given conventional nicotine-replacement therapies, such as patches or gum. However, added Truman, patients tended to prefer using e-cigarettes, as opposed to other NRTs.
For alcoholics, trying to quit smoking is an added stressor
Public Health experts have long been pointing out that the e-cigarettes are the preferred and the most effective cessation tools for smokers. The main reason for this is that the motion of vaping imitates the action of smoking, hence makes the transition from smoking to not smoking a smoother one.
Moira Gilmour said that quitting smoking has been a problem for patients who are already dealing with quitting alcohol. For this group the need to quit smoking was an added stressor and switching to electronic cigarettes was found to be more acceptable. “This was seen to reduce stress of both patients and staff, as patients were happy to remain on the ward while using the e-cigarette,” she said.
Consistent findings around the world
Inline with this research, last November a number of health organizations and charities in the UK, highlighted the importance of supporting smokers who suffer from mental health conditions, by giving them access to smoking cessation tools such as electronic cigarettes.
In a statement titled, ‘Why smoking and mental health matters’, the Mental Health & Smoking Partnership pointed out that smoking retains a strong presence in mental health settings. Infact co-chair of the partnership Professor Ann McNeill, said that the tendency to smoke amongst people with mental health conditions, remains twice as high.
“This is a great inequality leading to early death and years of chronic illness for many,” she said at the time. “E-cigarettes provide a new opportunity for people to move away from smoking and avoid the terrible burden of death and disease it causes.”
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