Vape shops open inside two West Midlands NHS hospitals

E-cigarette stores have opened in two West Midlands hospitals Credit: Peter Byrne/PA

Vape shops have opened in two NHS hospitals in the West Midlands, in a bid to eradicate smoking.

Sandwell General Hospital in West Bromwich, and Birmingham City Hospital, both of which are run by Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, have had vape shops open up.

The shop's opening comes as the NHS Trust tries to clamp down on smoking within its grounds. From July 5, those caught smoking on hospital grounds will be hit with a £50 fine.

Police are even rolling out security cameras to catch smokers on site.

E-cigarettes will be allowed on the condition they are puffed away from door was, while smoking shelters have been turned into vaping areas.

The trust's medical director, Dr David Carruthers, said the board's leaders believe that eliminating passive smoking on their ground is a public health neccesity.

He said: “Every alternative is available and we ask visitors and patients to work with us to enforce these changes.

“Giving up smoking saves you money and saves your health.”

The move comes months after a leading British expert accused Public Health England (PHE) of ignoring mounting evidence about the harmful effects of e-cigarettes.

Professor Martin McKee, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, claimed the UK is “out of step” with other countries when it comes to messages concerning vaping safety.

A smoking ban has been rolled out across the Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust. Credit: PA

He said San Francisco’s decision in June to become the first major US city to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes was “sensible”.

Professor McKee said e-cigarettes should not be promoted as a stop-smoking aid without greater awareness of the effects inhaling nicotine and flavoured chemicals can have.

“When we look at the evidence we do have, there’s enough grounds for serious concerns,” he told PA in April.

“The nicotine in e-cigarettes is not a harmless drug and then there all these other things such as flavourings that are inhaled.

“We haven’t had e-cigarettes for long enough to know the true effects.

“But when we look at the evidence we do have, there’s enough grounds for serious concerns."

PHE has campaigned for smokers to switch to e-cigarettes on the grounds they are 95 per cent less harmful than tobacco products - a figure Prof McKee disputes.

Joe Lucas, head of retail for Ecigwizard, said his company was “incredibly happy” to support the trust’s smoke-free status.

“We are keen to offer vaping as an alternative to smoking, as a means to help people cut down or quit,” he added.

E-cigarette use continues to rise, with 6.3 per cent of British adults vaping in 2018, up from 5.5 per cent the previous year, according to figures analysed by NHS Digital earlier this month.

Just over half (51.5 per cent) of those vaping said it was to help them quit smoking.