Department of Health

Key messages

  • Smoking is a major health issue for people with a mental illness, many of whom want to quit and are able to do so with the right support.
  • Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed work spaces under the Tobacco Act 1987.
  • All people within hospital precincts must be protected from secondhand smoke.
  • Health services must have policies and training initiatives to support smoke-free hospitals.

Purpose and scope

This guideline provides advice about smoke-free environments in public mental health services. It is applicable to all mental health inpatient units, community care units (CCUs) and prevention and recovery care services (PARCS).

Background

Major health initiatives in recent years have focused on reducing contact with tobacco smoke and the harm it causes. Awareness of the risks of smoking to people in the workplace led to changes in law, via the amendments to the Tobacco Act 1987, and in occupational health and safety practices adopted by health facilities. 

Alcohol and illicit drugs are banned in hospitals and their grounds, and a similar approach has been adopted towards smoking. Both consumers and employees have the right to a smoke-free environment, and current laws and local policies support this right.

Mental health services provide care and treatment for people who have high rates of smoking, with at least 50 per cent of regular smokers with a mental illness dying prematurely from smoking-related disease. Services have a duty to support people with mental illness to reduce smoking-related harm. In addition, staff and visitors, including children, should not be exposed to smoke while in a hospital environment.

Reviewed 19 September 2015

Health.vic

Contact details

Office of the Chief Psychiatrist

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