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Patients leaving mental health facility to have a smoke.

By 22 February 2013 70

ABC News has run a story about mental health patients quitting their treatments early because they are being denied a smoke. Starting this year a smoking ban was implemented into Canberra Hospital’s new psychiatric facility, banning patients from smoking outdoors in the facility’s designated smoking areas.

Does anyone else feel that denying people who are obviously already having a tough time a chance to satisfy their nicotine addictions is a bit well… mean?

ACT Health says there have been five cases where they think the smoking ban has contributed to voluntary patients deciding to leave the facility before finishing their treatment.

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70 Responses to Patients leaving mental health facility to have a smoke.
#1
Holden Caulfield9:57 am, 22 Feb 13

To put a positive spin on things, I guess the money saved on mental health treatment can be re-assigned for their inevitable cancer/smoking-related illness at a later date.

No, I don’t think it’s mean. But as a non-smoker it’s easy for me to say that.

#2
bloodnut9:59 am, 22 Feb 13

There have been studies done that show smoking actually aids schizophrenic patients as the nicotine acts as a mild anti-depressant which has a therapeutic effect on their condition.

#3
bundah10:07 am, 22 Feb 13

“It is not the entire campus that has become smoke free it is only the mental health facility,”

Sound like discrimination to me!

#4
Dilandach10:24 am, 22 Feb 13

Holden Caulfield said :

To put a positive spin on things, I guess the money saved on mental health treatment can be re-assigned for their inevitable cancer/smoking-related illness at a later date.

No, I don’t think it’s mean. But as a non-smoker it’s easy for me to say that.

Not really, any money saved would be used when they inevitably end up in the legal system from lack of treatment.

#5
CapitalK10:32 am, 22 Feb 13

It’s a total joke, and why is it the only area in the hospital that is completely smoke free? Of course some patients will quit smoking as a result and that is excellent, but there are some who simply will / can not. They are probably more likely to suffer as a result of the meds they need to take or their actual condition before any smoking related illness gets hold.

#6
ToastFliesRED11:49 am, 22 Feb 13

Just for clarity there are only two designated smoking areas on the Canberra Hospital campus, the rest of the place is non-smoking and there are many signs around to indicate that. it does not mean that people do not smoke in non-smoking areas but that is a separate issue of enforcement. there is a designated patient smoking area just down Hospital road from the mental health inpatient facility which would be accessible to all voluntary patients, same as for any other ward.

that being said I do agree that one of the outdoor areas in the new MH block could/should be considered for smoking status

#7
Watson1:02 pm, 22 Feb 13

Perhaps simply because they can treat them like naughty kids?

It’s not as if people with serious mental health issues that often lead to depression and suicidal thoughts would give a stuff about the risk of cancer or emphysema. For some, the routine and ritual of going out for a smoke may be the one thing that helps them cling onto sanity.

These anti-smoking rules seem to sometimes be mainly there so some non-smokers can feel good about themselves and satisfy their control-freak streak by patronising immoral smokers.

#8
breda1:07 pm, 22 Feb 13

They’ve done the same in NSW mental health facilities.

So, a person who is fighting demons and voices and/or crushing depression is deprived of a cigarette because it’s bad for them. This is self-righteous cruelty in the guise of ‘caring’.

As Aldous Huxley wisely said:

“The surest way to work up a crusade in favor of some good cause is to promise people they will have a chance of maltreating someone. To be able to destroy with good conscience, to be able to behave badly and call your bad behavior ‘righteous indignation’ — this is the height of psychological luxury, the most delicious of moral treats.”

People who are in mental health facilities – or indeed in any other hospital – are in varying states of distress. To pick this moment to inflict further discomfort on them in the name of Public Health is simply sadism masked as virtue.

#9
miz1:07 pm, 22 Feb 13

Surely they can give the patients nicotine patches. Win, win – the patient get their nicotine fix (whether therapeutic or addiction-driven) and may even be able to cut down on the ciggies; and the hospital remains smoke free (as all health facilities should be).

#10
Watson1:25 pm, 22 Feb 13

miz said :

Surely they can give the patients nicotine patches. Win, win – the patient get their nicotine fix (whether therapeutic or addiction-driven) and may even be able to cut down on the ciggies; and the hospital remains smoke free (as all health facilities should be).

Why should all health facilities be smoke-free? Why is it anybody’s business?

#11
astrojax1:41 pm, 22 Feb 13

Watson said :

miz said :

Surely they can give the patients nicotine patches. Win, win – the patient get their nicotine fix (whether therapeutic or addiction-driven) and may even be able to cut down on the ciggies; and the hospital remains smoke free (as all health facilities should be).

Why should all health facilities be smoke-free? Why is it anybody’s business?

well, i don’t diagree that health faciliites should be smoke-free – the question is, what constitutues the ‘facility’? it should probably be the physical infrastructure and the access corridors, so an open air space that happens to be near a health facility, should be accessible to smokers.

and surely, as others have noted, these vulnerable patients are the ones who should be treated humanely and with some respect. this is sadism… [and i'm a non-smoker]

#12
Diggety1:55 pm, 22 Feb 13

breda said :

So, a person who is fighting demons and voices and/or crushing depression is deprived of a cigarette because it’s bad for them. This is self-righteous cruelty in the guise of ‘caring’.

As Aldous Huxley wisely said:

“The surest way to work up a crusade in favor of some good cause is to promise people they will have a chance of maltreating someone. To be able to destroy with good conscience, to be able to behave badly and call your bad behavior ‘righteous indignation’ — this is the height of psychological luxury, the most delicious of moral treats.”

People who are in mental health facilities – or indeed in any other hospital – are in varying states of distress. To pick this moment to inflict further discomfort on them in the name of Public Health is simply sadism masked as virtue.

This!

#13
poetix1:55 pm, 22 Feb 13

I wonder what percentage of psychiatric nurses smoke? I would guess a very high percentage, given the incredibly stressful nature of the job and the often erratic hours. So they must come back smelling of cigarettes to the addicted and deeply troubled patients who can’t smoke.

There would be concerns around access to matches/lighters, and passive smoking, but these can surely be worked out.

#14
Diggety1:55 pm, 22 Feb 13

Watson said :

Perhaps simply because they can treat them like naughty kids?

It’s not as if people with serious mental health issues that often lead to depression and suicidal thoughts would give a stuff about the risk of cancer or emphysema. For some, the routine and ritual of going out for a smoke may be the one thing that helps them cling onto sanity.

These anti-smoking rules seem to sometimes be mainly there so some non-smokers can feel good about themselves and satisfy their control-freak streak by patronising immoral smokers.

And that!

#15
breda2:18 pm, 22 Feb 13

miz, if your contention was true, nobody would smoke. They’d just pop on a patch, and Robert would be your mother’s brother.

Many people with mental illness smoke heavily, for all sorts of reasons. There is no question that banning smoking increases their distress – hell, it increases the distress of even the most even-tempered person.

Nobody has ever claimed that smoking cigarettes initiates crime or other bad behaviour, unlike alcohol or other drugs which are banned with some objective basis.

Why is the equation so inevitable: social engineer = doesn’t have a clue?

#16
ToastFliesRED2:19 pm, 22 Feb 13

Watson said :

Why should all health facilities be smoke-free? Why is it anybody’s business?

Umm maybe promoting a healthy lifestyle? its an extension of not smoking in restaurants etc. Ever read any of the research on the impact of second hand smoke, particularly on those whose health is already compromised? Either way it is a decision that has been made and endorsed, if you object then appeal the decision administratively not by slagging off on RA about why is it anybody’s business.

That being said I still stand by my original statement that I know of research where cigarettes/nicotine can be a beneficial self medication for individuals with MH illnesses and I think the decision to make all of the new MH block smoke free need to be examined

#17
Here_and_Now2:26 pm, 22 Feb 13

bloodnut said :

There have been studies done that show smoking actually aids schizophrenic patients as the nicotine acts as a mild anti-depressant which has a therapeutic effect on their condition.

Have we a link to those? They could shed some light and sort out parts of this discussion. Handy.

#18
breda2:56 pm, 22 Feb 13

It doesn’t really matter whether or not nicotine is mildly beneficial for this or that condition. The point is, giving up smoking is hard for people with every possible personal motivation and social support. To punish vulnerable people in support of the ill-concealed agenda to wipe out smoking is disgraceful.

In NSW, patients have been banned from smoking in the grounds on the specious and dishonest basis that an outdoor worker might be exposed to ‘secondhand smoke.’ It’s complete bullshit. It’s especially cruel to psychiatric patients, but not exactly compassionate to any other kind of patient either.

Look out, all you wine qaffers. If they have their way, in ten years you’ll be looking at pictures of cirrosed livers on the label. If you think I’m exaggerating, look at how the cigarette packet thing began – just a small warning label which grew and grew.

The New Puritans are among us, and are delighting in making people suffer in the name of “promoting healthy lifestyles”.

#19
Gillian3:04 pm, 22 Feb 13

There’s also the issue of mental health patients, particularly those on anti-psychotics, are already at high risk of cardiovascular disease. Add in smoking and you get the picture. It’s also particularly difficult for staff and non smoking patients admitted to units who are heavily (and back in the day we were talking clouds of smoke everywhere) exposed to carcinogens.

It’s a recognised issue and staff in these units aren’t particularly comfortable with it, but there are two sides to the coin that people are missing. Staff have a duty to both the short term and long term health of the patient.

And all manner of nicotine replacement therapy is available and freely prescribed.

#20
DrKoresh3:28 pm, 22 Feb 13

breda said :

Look out, all you wine qaffers. If they have their way, in ten years you’ll be looking at pictures of cirrosed livers on the label. If you think I’m exaggerating, look at how the cigarette packet thing began – just a small warning label which grew and grew.

The New Puritans are among us, and are delighting in making people suffer in the name of “promoting healthy lifestyles”.

+1! Too true. I can’t stand this wave of moralistic legislation on how people should spend their free time. Makes me want to find the biggest, stinkiest cigar in the world and blow the smoke in their respective faces.

#21
Alderney3:30 pm, 22 Feb 13

Whoa, cue all the smokers that are now eying off the lift or the stairwell because someone mentioned cigarette.

I had (yes, past tense) a relative who only used to remember she needed a cigarette when she saw an advertisment for cigs. She’d be dead by now because of age, but she died in pain of lung cancer.

There’s no such thing as a healthy number of cigarettes, every cigarette does you damage. And if someone can smell your smoke, you’re doing them damage too. Height of selfishness.

#22
DrKoresh3:34 pm, 22 Feb 13

Gillian said :

There’s also the issue of mental health patients, particularly those on anti-psychotics, are already at high risk of cardiovascular disease. Add in smoking and you get the picture. It’s also particularly difficult for staff and non smoking patients admitted to units who are heavily (and back in the day we were talking clouds of smoke everywhere) exposed to carcinogens.

It’s a recognised issue and staff in these units aren’t particularly comfortable with it, but there are two sides to the coin that people are missing. Staff have a duty to both the short term and long term health of the patient.

And all manner of nicotine replacement therapy is available and freely prescribed.

I don’t think anyone is advocating a return to the days of indoor smoking. I’m a smoker, and I certainly don’t want that, but being institutionalised and then told you can’t smoke at all is unreasonable. Nicotine replacement therapy is not an effective replacement for actually smoking a cigarette, you’re writing gives the impression of experience in healthcare, so I’m guessing you already know that.

#23
DrKoresh3:41 pm, 22 Feb 13

Alderney said :

Whoa, cue all the smokers that are now eying off the lift or the stairwell because someone mentioned cigarette.

I had (yes, past tense) a relative who only used to remember she needed a cigarette when she saw an advertisment for cigs. She’d be dead by now because of age, but she died in pain of lung cancer.

There’s no such thing as a healthy number of cigarettes, every cigarette does you damage. And if someone can smell your smoke, you’re doing them damage too. Height of selfishness.

Everyone else should abstain from an activity because it upsets you? Height of selfishness.

#24
gazket3:43 pm, 22 Feb 13

maybe patients are leaving to have a cigarette because some of the staff are rude and belittle the patients. I know this because a friend ask me for a lift to pick someone up from there and they were in tears from the abuse they just copped.

#25
james2703:58 pm, 22 Feb 13

So the council is happy to provide syringes for inmates in our local prison but wont let a patient at a mental health facility have a cigarette?

Good to see they have their priorities right.

#26
breda4:09 pm, 22 Feb 13

@ Alderney:

“There’s no such thing as a healthy number of cigarettes, every cigarette does you damage. And if someone can smell your smoke, you’re doing them damage too. Height of selfishness.”
——————————————
Tosh.

There’s no such thing as a healthy number of anything.

The number 1 rule of toxicology is – the dose makes the poison. Statements like that above are just gibberish. The following one – that if you can smell something, it means it’s going to kill you, is even more ridiculous.

It just highlights that the anti-smoking crusade is not about science, but about zealotry. It’s for their own good, so any manner of lies and cruelties are acceptable.

#27
kakosi4:14 pm, 22 Feb 13

It’s an outdoor area right? It’s not just the mental patients that are insane here.

#28
Robertson4:24 pm, 22 Feb 13

ToastFliesRED said :

Watson said :

Why should all health facilities be smoke-free? Why is it anybody’s business?

Umm maybe promoting a healthy lifestyle?

I see, and the hospital canteen will be “promoting a healthy lifestyle” by banning the sale of food to anybody with a BMI > 24 any day now, right?

@Breda: Well said! But I wish you hadn’t mentioned wine-quaffing as I am now in need of ducking off home early to get into it.

#29
steveu4:55 pm, 22 Feb 13

I’m a non smoker but I can’t see the point of not granting them an exemption n this case, unless it has been demonstrated smoking is detrimental to the condition that they are in there for in the first place.

They should be encouraging people to accept treatment not discouraging them, through this blind policy.

#30
Masquara5:11 pm, 22 Feb 13

bloodnut said :

There have been studies done that show smoking actually aids schizophrenic patients as the nicotine acts as a mild anti-depressant which has a therapeutic effect on their condition.

So, er, prescribe nicotine then! No cigarettes needed.

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