All of north Cumbria's NHS mental health sites are now "smokefree".

Smoking is now completely banned at all sites in the north of the county run by the Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW).

The ban, which was introduced yesterday, means that staff will ask anyone smoking on the grounds of any CNTW site to stop.

David Muir, group director for the North Cumbria locality at CNTW, said: “Creating a smokefree environment at our sites is more important than ever.

"Smoking, and breathing in second-hand smoke, puts people at greater risk of a whole host of illnesses.

"The evidence so far also suggests people who smoke may be at increased risk of severe disease if they get Covid-19.

“We have a duty of care to provide a safe and healthy environment for people receiving treatment and support from us, their visitors, and our staff.

"Going smokefree is an important part of that.”

People with mental health issues tend to smoke more than other people, meaning they are more vulnerable to the harmful effects of smoking.

Men and women with severe mental illness die 15 to 20 years earlier that the national average and smoking is the biggest single reason for this difference, the trust says.

The trust also stresses that the common belief that smoking aids with stress relief is false, and that smoking actually increases feelings of anxiety and tension.

Vaping, which is considerably less harmful than smoking, will continue to be allowed in designated areas on CNTW sites.