THE NHS provider of mental health services in the county is banning smoking outside its units in Herefordshire.

There will be no smoking allowed within the gardens, car parks and grounds at the Stonebow Unit at Hereford County Hospital and at Oak House, in Barton Road, Hereford.

The 2gether NHS Foundation Trust, the mental health and learning disabilities provider for Herefordshire, has decided to go completely smokefree to improve the lives of people who use their services.

The trust’s director of quality, Marie Crofts, said: “We started the process of going Smokefree at our Gloucestershire sites last April and we’re now focussing our efforts on helping our service users, carers and colleagues in Herefordshire to reduce or give up smoking.

“The evidence is that smoking is the primary reason for the 10 to 20 year shortened life expectancy for people with a mental health disorder. We cannot stand by and allow the people we care for to carry on a habit that causes cancer, heart disease and other physical illnesses without providing appropriate encouragement, guidance and support.

“We know giving up smoking is not easy and many people believe smoking reduces mental health conditions such as stress and anxiety. In fact it does the opposite and makes these conditions worse.

“We and our partners in Herefordshire can provide a range of support to help with giving up smoking and the New Year is a particularly good time to quit.”

2gether service users can ask to speak to a Smokefree Champion or Quit Advisor to stop smoking. There are also other services available including visiting or ringing 01432 383567, speaking to your GP, visiting the One You website or ringing the national Smokefree helpline on 0800 0224332.