Wolf Administration Pushes for Tobacco-Free at Mental Health and Recovery Facilities

HARRISBURG, PA — The departments of Health, Human Services and Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) is sharing their joint commitment to ensure mental health and recovery facilities have access to resources to provide the best quality of care for residents to improve and support tobacco-free recovery.

“Everyone’s journey of recovery is different, but the Wolf Administration wants to ensure all facilities providing care have access to resources to aid Pennsylvanians in their recovery journey,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We know that tobacco-free environments and tobacco cessation treatment, concurrently with mental illness and other addictive disorder treatment, can improve treatment outcomes, contribute to longer-term sobriety, reduce social stigma, and enhance the overall health and quality of life of people in recovery. We encourage these facilities to support individuals, show encouragement through their journey and strengthen their recovery by offering tobacco-free environments if they are able.”

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“Smoking cessation is a key to improving quality-of-life. It is a contributing factor in the shortened life expectancy of individuals with a mental illness, which is why this initiative is so important,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “DHS is committed to providing whole-person care by improving health outcomes, and that includes encouraging tobacco-free environments and use of resources to help individuals live tobacco-free lives.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Approximately one in four adults in the U.S. has some form of behavioral health condition, and these adults consume almost 40 percent of all cigarettes smoked by adults.

Studies have shown that learning tobacco-free coping skills can:

  • Decrease depression, anxiety, and stress;
  • Increase positive mood and quality of life;
  • Boost self-confidence and self-image;
  • Improve physical health and wellness; and
  • Enhance the probability of long-term abstinence from alcohol and other drugs.
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“Research shows that recovery from tobacco use disorder enhances recovery from substance use disorder,” said DDAP Secretary Jen Smith. “Our goal is to provide drug and alcohol treatment facilities with the relevant research to make informed decisions about their practices. Together, we can help Pennsylvanians life healthy, substance-free lives.”

To further support tobacco-free recovery efforts, the CDC has provided funding to launch a statewide initiative to help behavioral health and treatment facilities become tobacco-free facilities.

The Department of Health developed an advisory board headed by a team in Philadelphia who have already successfully encouraged both behavioral health treatment facilities and recovery treatment facilities to go smoke and tobacco-free. The Statewide Tobacco-Free Recovery Initiative (STFRI) Advisory Board includes advocacy groups, managed care organizations, state regulatory agencies, tobacco control experts and other key leaders in behavioral health treatment services to inform and guide the initiative. The board members have extensive experience in advancing tobacco-free behavioral health care in other settings, and with transformational culture change initiatives.

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Additional information on how to quit smoking, and on the dangers of e-cigarette and tobacco use can be found on the Department of Health’s website at health.pa.gov.

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