Public mental health and smoking: A framework for action

A joint report published by ASH and the Royal College of Psychiatrist’s Public Mental Health Implementation Centre. The report is a practical document, designed to drive action locally, regionally and nationally across sectors. It is for people and organisations developing plans and strategies to improve mental and physical health in our communities, particularly those working to implement public mental health approaches to prevent poor mental health in society.

The report sets out:

  • The link between smoking and poor mental health and describes a cycle of dependence through which smoking increases the risk of poor mental health which, in turn, increases tobacco dependency and health inequalities.
  • Evidence-based strategies to reduce smoking at population level and for those with mental health conditions
  • A framework for scaling-up action, in line with the Prevention Concordat for Better Mental Health, to secure the Government’s ambition for England to be smokefree by 2030.

Key recommendations:

  1. A new Tobacco Control Plan focused on tackling smoking in all people with a mental health condition, through targeted investment and effective data monitoring systems, underpinned by targets for reduced smoking prevalence in this population
  2. Nationally, Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services should include support for smokers to quit, to improve both mental and physical health outcomes.
  3. National communications activity on promoting positive mental health should include messages about the benefits of stopping smoking and avoiding starting. Similarly, national ‘stop smoking’ communications should include information on the benefits to mental health.
  4. Coproduction with service users locally should be supported to resource peer support workers using QI (quality improvement) methodology, to maximise signposting to help and quit rates.
  5. Major gaps in the data must be addressed. Data is needed to monitor smoking rates across all populations with a mental health condition, to measure the provision of evidence-based support and the outcome of treatment.

Download the report here.