Harrisburg, PA – Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller has announced all six state hospital facilities across the commonwealth are tobacco-free campuses. Tobacco products and vapes will be prohibited on each campus.
As of this week, all state hospital facilities will offer smoking cessation programs, individualized support as needed, nicotine patches, and nicotine gum to help this transition within the community. Resources for employees will be posted online to reference helpful contacts and groups including the Quit for Life Program by the American Cancer Society and Optum. Signs will be posted to remind patients, staff, visitors, contractors, tenants, and guests that the campuses and buildings are tobacco-free zones.
“We want to align with best practices across the country in order to continue our focus on providing whole person care and improving physical health outcomes,” said Secretary Miller. “Smoking is a contributing factor to the shortened life expectancy of individuals with a mental illness. This initiative will further support health, wellness, and recovery within these communities.”
According to the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD), smoking tobacco of any kind is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, accounting for more than 480,000 deaths annually. Additionally, 41,000 deaths annually are attributed to second-hand smoke. Individuals with a mental health condition who smoke have higher rates of psychiatric symptoms, more psychiatric hospitalizations, and poorer treatment outcomes overall.
Last year, state agencies collaborated with behavioral health advocacy organizations to address the high prevalence of smoking among adults with behavioral health disorders. The summit produced a state-specific action plan including practical strategies that aim to significantly increase cessation and quit attempts, increase tobacco use prevention, and ultimately reduce the prevalent tobacco use among the behavioral health population. An objective of this plan was to make all state hospitals tobacco-free.
For information on the counties served by each state hospital, please visit here.