A Lewisham mental health facility has paired up with a vaping retailer to help patients quit cigarettes.

The Ladywell Unit at Lewisham hospital, one of the largest in the country, will receive 100 free Hexa starter kits from vaping retailer VPZ to help people with mental health problems stop smoking.

Patients at the hospital received the first 15 kits in September, and every patient who smokes will be offered a kit until they have all been used.

The project, believed to be the first of its kind, will then be reviewed, but "early success" indicates it will continue.

People with mental health problems are far more likely to smoke than the general population, and far less likely to be able to give up using widely available support, according to the Mental Health Foundation.

Smoking rates among adults with depression in the UK are about twice as high as among adults without depression, while people with schizophrenia are three times more likely to smoke than other people and tend to smoke more heavily.

Mary Yates, Nurse Consultant, Health Promotion & Wellbeing at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Smoking traps vulnerable people in poverty because it is so expensive.

"This collaboration with VPZ has the potential to transform the lives of our patients, taking them off cigarettes, giving them more money and transforming their health.

"We are taking a very holistic approach where smoking is tackled along with mental health issues with the ultimate objective of improving our patients' overall wellbeing."

Patients will receive the kit, which retails at £19.99, a number of e-liquids and some support guides which set out ways to look after the vape and how it should be used.

VPZ will monitor the impact of the scheme, and hopes to roll it out across the UK.

Doug Mutter, VPZ director, said: "Quitting smoking can be a challenge for any long-term smoker but mental health patients face an even tougher battle with their abilities to access services reduced considerably.

"We are now looking forward to working in partnership with the team at Ladywell Unit at Lewisham Hospital to help patients make the switch to vaping and take the first steps to living a better life.

"We will also work closely with them to monitor the impact of the project and aim to roll-out the scheme throughout the UK as we work towards transforming the health of the nation."