East London NHS Foundation Trust are smokefree in a bid to promote and support good health for our service users, their families and carers and our staff member.  We recognise that we have a responsibility to ensure we promote healthy lifestyles, prevent illness and support the right that everyone has to breathe clean air.

This means that it is not permitted for anyone to smoke on any of our trust premises, including areas such as car parks, in the grounds or in secluded corners of our sites. This follows recommendations from Public Health England and The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). The recommendations state that we should make no exceptions or provision for smoking such as smoking shelters or allow staff to escort patients off-site to smoke.

Despite smoking prevalence being at the lowest level since records began (15.5%), smoking remains the single largest cause of preventable death and illness, so to help overcome this the Department of Health is aiming to make the entire NHS smokefree by 2020.

The move to become smokefree is proving successful, but we realise this is a big a culture change that will take time to implement fully, and we ask for your support in helping us achieve this for everyone’s benefit.

This page is dedicated to our smokefree campaign, and will enable you to find out what a smokefree Trust means for everyone. Click here for the Tobacco Control Plan for England

How Smoking Harms the Body

Effects of smoking on others including family members, friends and colleagues

More than 80% of secondhand smoke is invisible and odourless, so no matter how careful you think you're being.  Children are especially vulnerable because they breathe more rapidly and have less developed airways, lungs and immune systems.  Every time a child breathes in secondhand smoke, they breathe in thousands of chemicals, which puts them at risk of serious health conditions, including meningitis and cancer, and respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia.

Babies exposed to second-hand smoke are more at risk of cot death.  Breathing second-hand smoke increases a child's or an adult's risk of lung cancer by 24% and heart disease by 25%.  Children breathing in other people's cigarette smoke results in 300,000 GP visits and 9,500 hospital admissions for children every year.

Being a Smokefree Trust Means

  • No-one should smoke on hospital grounds, trust premises and in vehicles owned by the trust.
  • Staff members have been asked not to smoke in front of patients, their families or carers, and should not smell of smoke while at work.
  • Staff members should not be accompanying service users to smoke. 
  • We ask that that everyone supports us in our smokefree approach.
  • Anyone wishing to smoke should leave the trust site, ensuring that they are at least more than 50 metres away from the perimeter. and staff members should temporarily remove their NHS name badges and identification as these must not be visible.
  • We ask that respect is shown to our neighbours – so to avoid smoking directly outside nearby houses or congregating in large groups on public footpaths.
  • Cigarette butts should be disposed of responsibly, whilst also respecting the environment and do not littering.
  • If you are admitted as an inpatient to one of our wards, you are asked not to bring any tobacco related products with you.
  • Anyone found smoking on a trust site will be politely asked to put out their cigarette, or move off the premises.  If you see other service users smoking on one of our Trust sites, please feel free to alert a member of staff who can ask them to stop
  • Use of e-cigarettes / vaping is permitted on Trust sites for both patients and staff within guidelines. See our E-Cigarette Policy


The latest evidence from Public Health England shows vaping (e-cigarettes) is at least 95% safer than smoking tobacco. 

  • The risk of cancer has been calculated to be less than 1% of that involved in smoking tobacco
    E-cigarettes do not deliver carbon monoxide, the toxin in tobacco smoke that leads to heart attacks and strokes
  • E-cigarettes are allowed in single bedrooms and hospital grounds. But not allowed in day areas, communal areas, clinical areas, ward gardens or during group or individual therapy.
  • The devices and e-liquids should always be obtained through a reputable source to ensure they are as safe as possible and avoid use of unnecessary contents like diacetyl which can be harmful. They will also be as safe as charging a mobile phone as long as it is done with the provided charger, charged in line with manufacturers recommendations and not tampered with.

Smokefree and our Mental Health Services

We would like to hear your thoughts about us becoming smokefree, whether you are a member of staff or a service user.

We would like to hear if you believe that the policy has influenced the smoking habits? Which products are working best? And what changes might help to make things better? Contact us here

Smoking and Mental Health

The number of people smoking has continued to decline as a whole, however unfortunately this decline hasn't been achieved for people with a serious mental illness of which over 40% still smoke.  The effects of smoking on people with serious mental illness include premature death (10-20 year reduced life expectancy), disability and poverty.

The belief that smoking is therapeutic for people with mental illness is unsupported and evidence confirms that as well as the physical health benefits, becoming smokefree also reduces stress, anxiety and depression.  Smokers also require higher doses of medicines so quitting can lead to reduced does and the unpleasant side-effects that come with them.

Smoking and Surgery

The Trust encourages all smokers to quit the nicotine habit, and this message is further enhanced if they are due to have hospital treatment or an operation.  It is known that patients that smoke and have surgery are at the greatest risk of complications during or after an operation. These include potentially serious complications that can affect the lungs or heart as well as problems related to the general anaesthetic which is vital in the majority of surgical procedures.

Fighting infection is also more difficult for a smoker; whilst the risk of breathing problems increases too. There is also an increased chance of a longer stay in hospital. The wounds and bones in smokers also take longer to heal because of the reduced blood flow and lower oxygen levels in the blood.

Smoking reduces the benefits from treatment and the effects of recovery. There is a one in three risk of smokers experiencing breathing problems after an operation, but by stopping smoking at least eight weeks before the operation, the risk drops dramatically to one in ten.

In summary, the benefits of quitting before the operation include;

• Reduced risk of complications.
• Quicker healing.
• Less chance of infection.
• Possible reduction in the length of stay in hospital.

Positives Effects of Stopping Smoking

20 minutes: Your blood pressure and pulse rate return to normal
8 hours: Oxygen levels in your blood return to normal and carbon monoxide levels reduce by half.
24 hours: Carbon monoxide is eliminated from your body. Your lungs start to clear out mucus and other smoking debris
48 hours: Your ability to taste and smell improves
72 hours: Breathing becomes easier. Your bronchial tubes begin to relax and your energy levels increase.
2-12 weeks: Circulation improves throughout your body, making walking and running much easier.
5 years: Your heart attack risks fall to about half that of a smoker.
10 years: Your risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker.
15 years: Your risk of heart disease is nearly the same as someone who has never smoked.

Reporting of Smoking Related Incidents

If you see anyone smoking on Trust grounds, please politely ask them to stop and direct them to an appropriate location offsite.  We understand this isn't always easy, but taking these steps will help the Trust to achieve the smokefree vision.

We ask that this action is respected, and that anyone asked to stop smoking refrains from becoming abusive to staff or other patients.  Anyone who becomes aggressive will be reported to the police.  Please remember, the aim is to improve the health and wellbeing of all stakeholders, we are happy tom provide alternatives and support.

Support to Stop Smoking

  • Support to stop smoking is available for service users and their family members, and also trust staff members.
  • If you are a smoker admitted to any of our inpatient services, you will be offered Nicotine Replacement Therapy within 30 minutes of arrival.  We have staff who are trained to help with your usage of these products.  You may just wish to use these products to abstain from smoking for the time you are admitted.
  • Alternatively, we would really like you to take the opportunity to quit for good. Our trained staff will be able to help you create a plan to change your habits and reduce the triggers that lead you to smoke.  They will be able to offer you positive support throughout your quit attempt.
  • Other forms of medication are also available which includes Varenicline (Champix) which is proven to be the most effective product in supporting smokers to quit.
  • Some people may also choose to quit without the use of any medication.

To get support to stop smoking please speak to a staff member, speak to your GP or email: elft.stopsmoking@nhs.net

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