Vape store opens at Sandwell General Hospital as smoking banned
Vape stores have opened in two NHS hospitals in the West Midlands in a bid to help eliminate smoking.
The retail outlets, run by Ecigwizard, are based at Sandwell General Hospital in West Bromwich and Birmingham City Hospital, both of which are run by Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust.
The stores’ openings come amid a clampdown by the trust on smoking on its grounds, with people being issued £50 fines since July 5 if they light up.
Security cameras are also being used to police smoking.
Using e-cigarettes outside is allowed, on the condition it takes place away from doorways, while smoking shelters have been converted into vaping areas.
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The trust’s medical director, Dr David Carruthers, said his organisation’s board and clinical leaders were united in the view that eliminating passive smoking on its sites was a public health necessity.
“Every alternative is available and we ask visitors and patients to work with us to enforce these changes,” he said.
“Giving up smoking saves you money and saves your health.”
Discounts of 30 per cent on vaping products are offered to NHS workers in a bid to change their ways.
Toby Lewis, chief executive of the NHS Trust, told the Express & Star that staff have a responsibility to lead the way and to set an example to patients and visitors by not smoking.
Mr Lewis said: "It's difficult. If you come to a hospital and see NHS staff smoking outside you may get a little bit confused.
"It is about changing attitudes and it's about saying it's ok to be honest with each other, smoking isn't a bit of a nasty habit or something naughty that you do, smoking kills."
He added "There's no such thing as a smoking break. Staff take the breaks that are required by law, we want our staff to be rested and we can support staff to do that.
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"If a member of staff absolutely wishes to smoke they have to go off site.
"Our message to staff, our message to patients, our message to visitors is you wouldn't be a patient in a hospital and say I'm nipping out to the pub, you wouldn't come to work as a member of staff and say I'm going to take a break because I need to have a drink.
"Cigarettes are, of course, slightly addictive, but our message is if you're working for the NHS we think when you're working for the NHS you should choose not to smoke."
Joe Lucas, head of retail for Ecigwizard, said his company was “incredibly happy” to support the trust’s smoke-free status.
“We are keen to offer vaping as an alternative to smoking, as a means to help people cut down or quit,” he added.
E-cigarette use continues to rise, with 6.3 per cent of British adults vaping in 2018, up from 5.5 per cent the previous year, according to figures analysed by NHS Digital earlier this month.
Just over half (51.5 per cent) of those vaping said it was to help them quit smoking.