UK nurses are being asked to play a key role in a new government plan designed to significantly reduce the number of people who smoke in the country over the next five years.
The Department of Health has published a new policy paper as part of its Tobacco Control Plan entitled 'Towards a Smoke-Free Generation', which outlines the steps it wants the health service to take to encourage more people to quit smoking by 2022.
A key part of this plan will involve nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals engaging with patients to help them to kick the habit, such as by emphasising the harm they could be doing to their long-term health and by supporting them throughout the quitting process.
The government has stated that it will provide funding for training for all healthcare workers so that they are able to approach the subject of quitting - which can be a sensitive subject for some - in the best way.
In particular, the Department of Health wants all hospitals, mental health centres and prisons to be smoke-free from next year, while all patients receiving mental health treatment will be encouraged to give up smoking with help from specially-trained nurses and support workers.
The report sets out a vision for the next generation to be smoke-free - something that the government believes is in sight if its new targets are met between now and 2022. These include lowering smoking rates from 15.5 per cent to 12 per cent, reducing the number of women who smoke during pregnancy from 10.7 per cent to six per cent and cutting the percentage of 15-year-olds who smoke from eight per cent to at least three per cent.
Speaking to BBC News, Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the charity Action on Smoking and Health, commented: "The vision of a smoke-free generation it sets out is a welcome step-change in ambition from the last Tobacco Control Plan for England and should be achievable by 2030."
Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, added: "The final push, reaching the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, will undoubtedly be the hardest."
Written by James Puckle
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