The majority of people in the UK now believe that there should be a smoking ban on doctors, nurses and dentists, according to new research, and that's right, isn't it?

Knowing the health impact of smoking, you'd think doctors and nurses wouldn't smoke

Knowing the health impact of smoking, you'd think doctors and nurses wouldn't smoke

A OnePoll commissioned by Nicoccino asked smokers and non-smokers across the UK, which industries they thought should have restrictions on smoking. Those employed as health professionals topped the list for a smoking ban, with 62% of the vote - and that comes as no surprise really.

Surely they should lead by example?

We've recently come to the end of the 28-Day stop smoking challenge set up by Public Health England, Stoptober, to help encourage people to stop smoking for 28 days as research shows that you are more likely to quite for good after this period of time, yet doctors and healthcare professionals still continue to smoke.

Julie Walton Modern Matron at Weardale Community Hospital in Stanhope says: "I don't agree that people in the health service should smoke- it doesn't set a good example- it has been proven that smoking is damaging to the body and leads to death- they should lead by example and not smoke."

Dr Katie Tryon, head of clinical vitality at PruHealth, agrees, she says: "We should ensure that healthy choices are easy for staff, and try to encourage them to be more aware of their health for a longer term quality of life. This might include making it a little harder to smoke or eat unhealthy food, and a little easier to do the reverse. We would also suggest incentivising healthy behaviours."

But should it end there?

We're in the midst of an obesity epidemic and while doctors and nurses may recommend that we need to get to a 'healthy weight' can we take them seriously if they're overweight themselves?

Mrs Walton says: "All health professionals deliver advice via their trust or nationally- if they are not following it themselves then they can't deliver that advice successfully.

"When we are assessing patients on their weight whether it be they are overweight and underweight- we should try and set a healthy example. If you are teaching or advising someone on weight issues- how can you do that effectively when you are over or under weight yourself?"

However Dr Tryon says that an overweight doctor may be more encouraging for a patient to lose weight.

"There is a school of thought around "setting a good example", and research has shown that doctors of a 'normal weight' are more likely to give overweight or obese patients weight loss advice. However a recent study from Johns Hopkins in the US showed that overweight and obese patients actually trust weight-related counselling from overweight physicians more than physicians who are a normal weight.

"In terms of a more general impact on patient trust, research shows that there is greater mistrust of physicians who are overweight or obese, and patients are less inclined to follow their advice and more likely to change providers, compared to normal weight physicians, so clearly there is a bias there. However, this should not be played upon, as there are a multitude of reasons that physicians and healthcare professionals may be overweight or smoke, many of which would not hinder their ability to give sound advice on weight or smoking related issues, as well as broader health issues."

But would you take health advice from a professional who smoked and was overweight, telling you that you need to take control of your own health?

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