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Smoking ban may cut violent incidents in mental health wards

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When smoking was restricted at a psychiatric hospital, patients were almost half as violent as they were before, found researchers from North Staffordshire.

The team from Harplands Hospital examined all recorded episodes of violence and aggression witnessed by staff. All incidents that had happened a year before the introduction of a smoke-free hospital policy in April 2006 were compared with all those that happened a year after.

The hospital had introduced a partial ban so that staff and patients could still smoke in designated areas outside the hospital. From 1 July this year however, the Department of Health has introduced a complete ban on smoking in all English psychiatric hospitals.

Around 1,300 incidents were reported between April 2005 and April 2006. This fell 43% to 738 between April 2006 and April 2007.

The research was presented at a Royal College of Psychiatrists conference in London earlier this month.

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