To Whom Ever It May Concern,
My name is Jade Bianca Laurie Phipps. I also go by my old stage name, Jade Laurie-Hart and No One as a mental health poet, blogger, spoken word artist, singer and raising mental health awareness advocate.
• I am currently writing this from an acute psychiatric hospital, where I am detained under a section 2. I would like to challenge you on your, “Smoke Free” policies. I appreciate the motivation behind the policy but wander if the effect it has on patients is necessary!?
• Is smoking illegal? It is illegal to sell cigarettes to anyone under the age of eighteen. It is illegal to sell tobacco to minors. Minors and pregnant women may not smoke in public. How is it plausible to allow a pregnant lady outside with tobacco, rolling paper and a lighter (obviously to smoke) but deprive me as a non-smoker but a vaporiser user from access, even when I offered to vape only juice, no nicotine!?
• Cigarette smoking causes respiratory diseases like Emphysema, Chronic Bronchitis, Lung disease, Lung Cancer, Asthma attacks and early death. Smoking whilst pregnant has many risks and can lead to birth defects such as Type 2 Diabetes, Obesity, Behavioural Defects and Infertility.
• Nicotine and tobacco somehow decrease the risk of Osteoporosis, preventing cartilage and joint deterioration and also lowers the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
• Nicotine is not the only alkaloid in tobacco and therefore not the sole purpose why people are addicted to cigarettes. Nicotine travels through the blood stream and straight to the brain, on average this takes no more than twenty seconds, hence the immediate release and satisfaction for users. Nicotine in a form of replacement cigarette products is undoubtedly less of a risk to one’s health than smoking it.
• Vaporiser E-Juice should not contain additives such as caffeine and colouring from May 2017. Vape’s were designed for people who want to cut down on or quit smoking all together. The Smokey cloud look that releases upon exhale is simply a stage effect. There is no smoke involved because there is no fire or burning. The vapour produced does not even trigger a good quality and precautious smoke alarm. The prejudice, reluctance, stigma and taboo against vape’s, come from bad press and fear of the unknown! A huge misjudgement is that all Vape’s blow up when being charged. If charged correctly, monitored, and responsibly turned off and disconnected from an electricity resource, the risk of any form of explosion are slim to none. Phone chargers blowing up, are just as likely, if not more, considering the bigger the phone, the more battery power required. The chemicals that power modern and high tech phones equal or sometimes even excel the batteries in a vape. Therefor how is it valid, fair and acceptable to disallow vape charging on Mental Health Hospital grounds but the ability to charge our phones remain possible? People would take great offence to having their phone’s confiscated as contraband because of the possibility of them blowing up! It seems just as ridiculous to disallow me my privilege of charging my device. It is a familiar requirement that electronic devices are PAT tested if used on a Mental Health Ward, yet they don’t individually test singular devices and so this leaves a high risk of many explosions, It is public knowledge that Lithium batteries can cause fires if not supervised, mobile phones, tablets, portable DVD players are rarely checked. If my vape was PAT tested as well as my plug in wall charger and they both pass, what is the problem?
• Allowing E-Cigs and not Vapes is like allowing Benson and Hedges cigarettes but not sterling, they may differ in size produce different scales of vapour, but they are very much the same, banning one and not the other, makes no sense to me? It comes down to personal taste; I like the model of the vape that I use because I can customise the flavour to my liking and monitor my intake of E-juice and nicotine. I can physically see when the device needs refilling, and I can control the wattage which manipulates the strength and power of both inhalation and exhalation. E-Cigs are disposable and rather generic; I find vapes more cost effective in the long run.
• New vape laws regarding nicotine have been enforced as of early 2017. E-Juice now comes without nicotine. In order to mix nicotine with your purchased E-Juice, one must purchase a shot and mix the concoction themselves. Vaping enabled me to quit smoking, I use 6mg strength in nicotine but would be quite happy to just vape E-Juice. Why are vaping liquids considered as contraband and treated like engaging in illegal habits?
• I was once dismissed from using my vape both on and off hospital grounds because the staff was randomly concerned that my E-Juice may have contained Cannabis. I was shocked because it never personally occurred to me that, that was even possible!
• Marijuana is a natural product, before being tampered with for sale of the substance and consumption. The plant extract itself has been medically proven to actually aid certain human conditions, of cause it also has its risks but those risks usually occur because the cannabis is mixed with nicotine, tobacco and fire! Columbia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Jamaica, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, Uruguay and the USA are but a few countries that allow people to possess and use certain amounts of Marijuana for personal use. It is possible to make or buy an E-Liquid or readymade E-Cigs that contain Cannabis, the smell is less potent and physical effect is less damaging to the heart and lungs because there is no fire. If a patient really wants to use the drug, I am sure that with unescorted leave they could obtain it in many ways, regardless of its form. I find it insulting that it was assumed that I may use the drug, just because I choose to vape rather than smoke. Such insinuations should not be made flippantly. If there is a genuine concern, drug tests should be issued upon suspicion or as routine, to confirm and deny what is suspected and accused.
• Smoking in acute psychiatric, maternity and mental health services is now illegal and the, “smoke free” non-smoking policy has been initiated and put in place to get patients to reduce their smoking or quit all together, alongside support from smoking specialists and the offering of nicotine replacement products (NRT).
• Being under section 2 with only escorted leave, I was forced to go vape free for over 48hrs! I was ladled with nicotine patches every 24hrs, that released more nicotine then I was used to or needed, but of cause deprived of my vice, I took what was given! One patch alone, released more than I would usually intake in weeks of vaping. The average cigarette contains around 12mg of nicotine, where as I have a 6mg concentrated nicotine that lasts me weeks! “Smoke Free” means air that is free of smoke; this applies to hospital buildings, grounds and vehicles. Vapes are smoke free full stop! “NRT’S”, allow patches, gum, inhalation cartridges, tablets and mouth spray. All of which contain nicotine to various degrees of strength that are tailored to the use of individuals. They have zero tobacco; this is exactly the same as a vape. My vape being forbidden, the current policy has had the adverse effect on me and actually made me return to smoking! My agitation, anger, anxiety and low mood have intensified, I have not felt healthier in the slightest, my desire and need for nicotine has only increased, which makes me very sad, considering how far I had come on my quest to quit smoking for good! I was offered no help or support, no counselling, empathy, assessment, intervention or care and have really struggled, desperate to have my pacifier, I would even have gone nicotine free, but with no negotiation or weaning, abruptly being cut off and pumped with NRT’S, my old habits were resuscitated, fed and resurrected. Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust went completely smoke free, May 2016. Sue Coffee and John Short (mental health professionals) believe that people with mental health problems smoke more than the average person and are concerned that it may affect people’s mental health long term. The addiction that people usually have is tobacco and nicotine. Please consider how a vape with very low or no nicotine at all and of cause no tobacco, that requires the action of hand to mouth and inhalation/exhalation does not equate to or exceed the NRT’S which you do allow.
Vaping means no smoke! Vaping means no tobacco! Vaping means little or no nicotine! Charging vapes with care and attention, will not blow up, providing the charger is PAT tested like everything else. I have a Samsung mobile phone and the small devices require so much power because they are capable of doing so much, they have been reported to blow up lately. Is the trust going to start banning our human rights to keep phones on our person as well? Only allow certain brands of phones? How pernickety can you get?
Smoke free NHS online states that electronic cigarettes are designed for users to inhale nicotine without the harmful extra’s and effects of smoking. They deliver nicotine by heating and vaporising solution. There is no burning involved and therefor they release vapour, not smoke. They should therefore be recognised as an NRT. In New Zealand studies, smokers who wanted to quit, were given nicotine patches or nicotine free E-Cigarettes, the hand to mouth gives a huge placebo effect. Nicotine E-Juice comes in various degrees of strength in nicotine. The plan is to cut down the amount and nicotine strength until you are just vaping E-juice, completely nicotine free.
Tobacco causes one in four deaths caused by cancer. By all means you can purchase tobacco flavoured E-Juice but the solution should not and will not have any trace of tobacco. The NHS Mental Health Trust’s decision to ban vaping seems to have been administrated without much research. As a sectioned patient who thoroughly enjoys the pacifying motion of hand to mouth, I feel that is my personal responsibility to fight the vape ban to the best of my ability. Instead of allowing me my vice and panicking that if allowed to charge it in the place where I am detained, that it would blow up, I have been pumped with more nicotine then I need or desired via the current acceptable NRT’S. I have suffered at the hands of ignorance and misconstrued, “facts” left with my personal health and addictions in danger.
General Health hospitals have not yet banned smoking or vaping, the patients and staff seem a lot happier with easy access to their vices.
Initially when a person smokes, the nicotine reaches the brain so fast, it can improve a person’s mood, concentration and decrease anger and stress, relaxing muscles and reducing appetite. Unfortunately if smoking becomes a regular habit, one can experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms, this encourages smoking addiction. When stressed or depressed, people may self-medicate by smoking, this of cause encourages the vicious cycle of habit, reliance and addiction. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms feel similar to anxiety, therefor when sectioned patients without unescorted leave start getting snappy, aggressive and upset, the ban undoubtedly will add to the patients suffering and interferes with their stay and recovery. Nicotine stimulates dopamine in the brain, this is why NRT’S exist and are permitted. Patients are in hospital to get better, whether they are informal or sectioned. Adding the pressure of kicking habits against people’s will is inhumane. Taking peoples free will. Smoking affects people’s physical health more than it affects mental health, yet the general NHS has not enforced a ban, whether they plan to or not is outside of my knowledge. Ones ability to stop smoking rarely work when sudden and abrupt, therefor enforced deprivation is unhealthy and usually unsuccessful! Quitting requires personalised planning, support and good timing. Being in crisis and/or sectioned is far from the ideal setting to commence suddenly packing in. A lot of thought must go into the process of stopping smoking altogether, acute psychiatric hospital admissions are rarely planned, sudden and stressful, the dictatorship rules within the, “Smoke Free” system are put in motion upon hospital admittance, the requirement has no room for loop holes, permission to engage in smoking must be within the hospital staffs permission and agreement. Hospital is not prison, yet I believe that it makes patients feel in receipt of punishment, having basic human rights taken away because the government say so.
After losing two stone, quitting smoking, vaping and mastering distraction techniques over the last eleven months since my last admission, I have been sectioned for the first time and now have had to endure first-hand experience in feeling restrained from something that I enjoy, against my will. The silver lining of this harsh and brutal experience is that I have personally discovered that I am addicted to hand to mouth in motion, inhaling and exhaling but not the nicotine so much. Unfortunately having to endure going without my vape for 48hrs and accepting the NRT’S of patches and inhalators whilst waiting for a doctor to return after a whole weekend and then having to ask for unescorted leave to be approved, I finally got to go out, only to discover that my vape had run out of battery. I then had to wait for longer leave to be approved and so I could go to a place off sight to charge my battery. I have been eating more and either feeling more anxious or adapting to the large hit of nicotine that I had received, I have now returned to smoking. The whole scenario was very difficult to process and administrate, I was offered no emotional support whatsoever. I don’t want future patients to have to endure these added stresses and ask you to reconsider the ban of vapes and to perhaps accept them as the usual type of NRT that they are and should be recognised to be.
If you want mental health patients to be happy and smoke free, it may be an idea to be more lenient and less restrictive with the options of NRT’S that you allow. As far as I understand, the rules are, no smoke and no tobacco, vaporising fits into this category. You must now be able to accept and understand this? Please read this challenge word for word and then re-read this as if you had suddenly lost your freedom and free will, been taken away from your familiarities, life and comfortable surroundings, in great distress and suddenly disallowed your favourite thing, your vice. From that frame of mind, whilst considering all of the facts and points that I have raised, perhaps the current smoke free rules can perhaps be amended and rectified to allow vapes as an official NRT.
Please do contact me in regards to your thoughts and decision.
Aka Jade Laurie-Hart
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