Would you have liked help to fight cigarette cravings when you were in hospital?

Hi guys,

We know that giving up cigarettes is incredibly hard, so it’s important to give people help when they need it. That can mean having someone to talk to and, often, being given some sort of nicotine replacement therapy to help with cravings. (This could be patches, gum, e-cigarettes or something else.)

We keep hearing that hospital staff aren’t very good at prescribing nicotine replacement therapy for people in A&E.

That’s really horrible for someone who hasn’t managed to quit yet. They end up suffering withdrawal symptoms at the same time as the health problems sent them to A&E in the first place.

It’s also a missed opportunity, as a lot of people want to quit when they’re first taken into hospital.

Have you ever experienced something like this?

It would be really helpful to hear from you if you’ve been to A&E and weren’t asked whether you’d like help with cravings.

Please let me know your experiences. If you don’t want to post it here, you can always send me a personal message, or email me on Bethany.bateman@blf.org.uk.

Thanks all!


33 Replies

  • Hi Bethany

    Just wondering where this information will go and what will it be used for

  • Hi Mandy, initially it will help us decide what we want to do/say about this issue. If someone has a particularly strong story then we may also ask them if they'd help us by being a case study - but there would be no obligation to do that as it's not everyone's cup of tea.

    We wouldn't use your story without your permission though.

    I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  • Ok just wondering if the information would only be for BLF to use.

    Im with Stone i think A&E have enough to deal with and in my area there are also lots of places offering support to stop smoking

  • Hi

    Not sure about any other areas, my medical centre as well advertised smoking cessation classes.

    Two local pharmacies Lloyds and Wells both offfer one to one service.

    A&E have enough on there hands without adding to their work load.just my opinion.

  • It's great that there are such good services in your area.

    I know what you mean about A&E having so much on their hands.

    Some doctors think offering nicotine replacement could help with workload. That's because not doing it means they have to help people through withdrawal as well as with their other health problems. There's a lot to think about, which is why we want to speak to people who have experienced this themselves.

  • Why should it be the responsibility of the hospital? There are shops and chemists everywhere and when my Son found himself in hospital after being beaten up by a gang of men that came out of the back of the kebab take away , I just bought him every nicotine busting product on the market.....if you can afford to smoke , you can buy aids.

  • I'm so sorry to hear about your son Hufferpuffer. I hope he's ok now.

  • Thank you for asking Bethany , he had two broken arms from defending himself against crow bars and baseball bats and he had to go home and look after 3 children because he's a single Dad but his mate who was with him at the time suffered severe concussion, sadly he died recently.huff

  • That is absolutely horrendous, I'm so sorry. But I'm glad your son wasn't more hurt than he was.

  • Totally agree, hufferpuffer. Why should our hard-pressed NHS bear the cost?

  • When I am in A & E it is an emergency and I am ill. I want the medical staff to address that and not be sidetracked by whether or not I am a smoker. I think they should be able to respond and/or direct patients to an appropriate service if asked but don't want them wasting my time and theirs in asking people who are not seeking such help. Just my feelings.

  • That's a good point Toci.

  • May I say.. I did smoke, however my COPD is work related...but you're right the smoking was a contributory factor.

    I spent several years being admitted as an emergency respiratory case. But this was before the 'give up cigs' campaign existed. There was an awareness of course, but there was no help offered or even expected. Consequently there were no patches or (as I call them) vapor-ettes, to suck away your craving on..It was cold turkey, with all the cravings you get from giving up the cigs.

    However I had no problem whatsoever giving up smoking.

    You see in 2003 I was rushed into A&E, hardly able to breath with a COPD exacerbation!. I was so ill, I was placed in a medically induced coma! I had various tubes up my nose, down my throat and infused into my body.

    Over the next 18 days each time they took me off life support, I stopped breathing..I swelled up so I was unrecognisable even to my own children...The man sitting in the corner with his black cloak and Scythe was waiting... OK so it could have been the drugs but you get my meaning?

    So after 3 weeks of trying everything, the IDU team called my children in, they were taken into the relatives room and told it was time to say 'Goodbye' to their Mum.

    Then for some reason (no idea why) one of the team decided to do a tracheotomy on me.

    ...and I took a breath..and another!!

    10 days later I was allowed home, but it took over 6 months to get back on my feet.

    I never touched another cigarette...didn't even think about it either.

    OK I didn't have to go through any withdrawal....and I really wouldn't recommend doing it this way.

    ....just stick to the Nicorettes and Vaporettes.

  • What an amazing story. Well done on going cold turkey like that!

  • Hi Bethany,

    I think maybe if a patient is on a ward nicotine replacement and advice would be appropriate and kind, but I don't think A&E is the right place.


  • Thanks Sue. I'm going to make sure these comments all get fed back.

  • They hardly have time to draw breath in the average A&E - I just want BLF and Charities like CRUK to simply say "If withdrawal symptoms are proving too much then just get yourself an e-cig" A friend who neither smokes nor vapes was in hospital quite recently and several of the patients were happily vaping - no-one complained and none of the nurses turned a hair.

  • Thank you Dragonmum. I'll make sure this gets fed back to the relevant people here.

  • I would complain if folks were vaping in a hospital. cx

  • I totally agree. I have no wish to breathe in other's vapour clouds and would strongly object to anyone using one in the hospital whilst I was there.

  • I would defo complain if patients were vaping within the hospital. I can remember when doctors would smoke pipes and patients would smoke in the toilets, making it very difficult for lung patients. It wasn't right then and we don't yet know enough about vaping to allow it.


  • Actually the research and information on vaping is encyclopaedic for anyone interested enough to research it. The RCP and PHE have very positive views, 95% safer than smoking. There is no smoke involved, simply vapour which contains an anti-bacterial by the way - the treatment for asthma pre-abs was steam inhalations, vapour. Since I switched my condition has improved and my prescription drugs cut I no longer need abs for the infections I used to get 4/5 times a year. Most objections are based on prejudice or lack of knowledge rather than facts

  • If I'm in hospital I just want to breathe air. I think that's reasonable!

  • Since steam/moist air is actually bad for most people with emphysema, making it more difficult to breathe, I would not find this acceptable in a hospital.

  • Well that's me told! Not that it's changd my mind in what air I would wish to breathe within a hospital.

  • Quite, cofdrop-UK. Dragonmum, it might be 95% safer for smokers, but non-smokers are surely entitled not to be exposed to ANY risk at all

  • If hospitals want to help they could stop patients smoking in a cluster around the entrance doors. I agree with Sue's suggestion that the ward is a more appropriate place to discuss help with smoking cessation.

  • Most of the hospitals in Scotland have a no smoking policy of no smoking in the hospital grounds. Including vaping.There are some people who don't abide by it. And have never seen anyone vaping in a ward of a hospital.

  • Hi Bethany, I used to smoke a few years back. I no longer have any urge to do so. I got to thinking about this & although I abhor the smell of smoke now, I remembered something. A good few year ago, I was involved in a car accident, at that time I did smoke, I was not seriously hurt, but I was in shock with multiple back sprains & bruising. I really wanted a cigarette then because that was how I coped with stress. Of course I could not & long term I was ok. But I think about how people who smoke & are involved in accidents and sometimes seen a loved one die, or be terribly injured, must feel. Obviously, they cannot smoke in A &.E , because there are others to consider. I agree with.Stone, A & E staff have more than enough to cope with. But patient centred compassionate care, suggests to me, staff could have alternatives to smoking available. Not necessarily starting people on the path to giving.up at that point, just helping them in a crisis .

  • You raise a good point Scorioplass. We don't want to make more work for people. But surely its better for everyone - including staff - if they help reduce the added stress of cravings as and when it's needed.

  • our hospitals here are required to ask everyone if they would like help to quit . If it's a yes . They send a phc to your house a few days later to meet with you and go through all your options.

  • O very good idea Beth but who is going to pay for the replacement therapy. I stopped 11 years ago with the help of local Health centre it was good to have a dedicated nurse who talked you through the process and set targets.It is still hard.My first wife smoked and I used her as an excuse "I can't stop smoking and come home to ashtrays and the smell". Mary died 11 years ago and I reckon I owed it to her to stop.

    The only thing about using the hospital to stop, I presume you are at a vulnerable state of health to be there and wonder if it is the best time .

  • A&E is not the place to give out stopping smoking advice. They are Accident and Emergency. Simple.

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