The implications for hypnotherapy of next
summer's new smoking laws

A talk by Penelope Walford
Posted February 2007

Is a Smoking Cessation Therapist with a background in hypno-psychotherapy and is also an NHS-qualified Smoking Cessation Advisor.

She runs a private practices in Chorleywood and Harley Street and divides her time between seeing smokers one-to-one, training other therapists in Smoking Cessation and running, which sells a wide range of smoking cessation aids – all drug free.

In addition she is an ex-Director of the NCH (National Council for Hypnotherapy) and founder of the newly-formed ASCP – Association of Smoking Cessation Practitioners..

Penelope Walford

Hypnotherapists who fail to display "No Smoking" signs when seeing clients in their own homes may face fines of up to £1,000 from next summer.

The possibility was revealed at the January meeting of the James Braid Society when smoking cessation expert Penelope Walford outlined the legal implications of the news laws due to come into force from July 1.

All enclosed premises used as a place of work by more than one person will be covered by the legislation and though it is still not entirely certain, there is a real possibility that practice rooms, even in one's own home, will be covered.

Inquiries by the James Braid Society found that government department are still considering these details.

If the conclusion is that signs are required, it will mean therapists having to display minimum "No Smoking" signs or risks court penalties of   £1000 or a fixed penalty notice of £200.

The new laws will be enforced by local Environmental Health Officers, who will be authorised to inspect premises and issue penalties. 

Other premises covered will include restaurants, pubs, clubs, hotels and shops, factories and public transport.   Work vehicles, such as company cars, will also have to be smoke free - and display a notice - if they are used by more than one person.

Indoor smoking rooms, still common in some workplaces, will banned and even smoking clubs will be no longer permitted.  

So clearly July 1 marks a major change – and Penny Walford, spelled out what those will mean for smokers ... employers ... and hypnotherapists.

The statistics of smoking in the UK have been widely rehearsed but are worth repeating - not least because of the annual death toll of 100,000 people who die from their addiction to nicotine.

Roughly three quarters of the UK population are now non-smokers ... but an estimated 700 people a year are killed from passive smoking.

Another grim figure is the 4,000 or so chemicals contained in cigarettes - including the 50    known to be carcinogenic.

With around 270 smokers dying every day - roughly eleven every hour - the tobacco industry needs to replace their dead customers - and waiting in line to take their place are    the 450 children who each day in the UK try smoking for the first time.

However Penny told the January meeting that around 600,000 smokers are expected to decide to quit in the run-up or immediately after the smoking bans begin.

Experience from other countries which have already gone down this route prove to bemixed but most showed substantial reductions in smoking with tobacco sales; in Italy for example sales plummeting by 20 per cent.

In the United States however widespread smoking bans have resulted in restaurants suffering an increase in "dine and dash" frauds. Also known as "chew and screw" these occur whendinners claim to begoing outside for a post meal smoke before settling the bill ... then hotfooting it away.

In the three months prior to the July 1 clampdown the government plans to conduct a large-scale campaign to encourage people in England to quit smoking. Inevitably this will focus on nicotine replacement, about the only method Whitehall will seriously contemplate.

But it is also expected many smokers - including of course those who have tried nicotine replacement and failed - will be looking for other ways, including hypnotherapy.

Among the biggest problems hypnotherapy encounters is the persistent official view there is little or no authoritative research on its efficacy in helping with smoking cessation.

Penny Walford is also concerned however at exaggerated and unsubstantiated success rates claimed by some therapists.  

Last year she founded a new organisation - the Association of Smoking Cessation Professionals - to define and promote standards for ethical practice among smoking cessation practitioners.

The ASCP is set on establishing a voice for all drug-free smoking cessation methods and products.   You can find its site at


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