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Cigarettes to be Banned at State-Funded Addiction Treatment Centers in Vermont

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Vermont will join dozens of other states that have adopted tobacco-free policies at state-funded addiction treatment centers, the Associated Press reports.

“People say, ‘Oh gosh, this poor guy is giving up alcohol and drugs ? you expect him to give up cigarettes, too?’ Yet we know from a health perspective, this is the thing to do,” said Barbara Cimaglio, deputy health commissioner in charge of Vermont’s alcohol and drug abuse prevention program.

Kurt White, director of ambulatory services at the Brattleboro Retreat, a private psychiatric hospital that takes some patients under contract with the state, says tobacco use is much more common among people with substance abuse and mental health problems than among the general population. “There’s a growing body of evidence that people do better with both their addictions and smoking cessation if they quit everything at once,” he told the AP. Often there are “paired associations,” he added. “That drink of alcohol might have gone with a cigarette. The cigarette might have been a cue to drinking.”

Cimaglio said smoking used to be acceptable in many settings, from hospitals to newsrooms. Substance abuse and mental health treatment programs are “sort of the last place where we haven’t changed the culture,’’ she said. ‘‘And there’s really no reason we shouldn’t do better.”

5 Responses to this article

  1. Carolyn Moore / October 27, 2013 at 6:59 am

    I am going to speak from personal experience. I have been in recovery since 1987 and went through a state funded treatment center. I also smoked cigarettes at that time. It was very difficult for me to make it through life and stay clean and sober because I was dealing with “life on life’s terms” for the first time ever. I had to face a lot of very painful issues that were not my fault. I eventually quit smoking even though I was nine years into sobriety when I finally did it and it was very difficult also. Going into treatment was so scary and I wanted to back out so many times but my family and nine year old daughter really encouraged and supported me through it. If I had been told that I would have to quit smoking in order to get into treatment, I would have told them what to do with their treatment program and never would have gone. That is absolutely too much to throw at a person needing treatment. If I hadn’t gone when I did, I wouldn’t have lived another two weeks I was so bad. I just have to ask if it is worth letting a person die because they wouldn’t give up cigarettes in order to get into treatment. People that think like this just do not get it and have absolutely no true empathy for those with addictive disorders. My opinion…

  2. Dane Lenington / October 24, 2013 at 9:47 am

    I quit smoking myself but still don’t feel that forcing people to give up cigeretes at the same time as other addictions is a good idea. I know many addicts who would bypass treatment before they will give up their cigarettes…seems counterproductive to the goal of getting people clean and in recovey!

  3. Jim Sharp / October 23, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    About time.

  4. Fr. Jack Kearney / October 23, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    This is cruel and unethical, and will serve to keep more people out of treatment. Why can’t we just do more to help people quit smoking voluntarily?

  5. Jim Sharp / October 25, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    So, continue to allow addiction patients to continue using the drug nicotine while in treatment for other drugs? Then would you allow narcotic addicts to continue to use alcohol in treatment? How about alcoholics using pot in treatment? Why make the exception for nicotine? We’ve been bringing people into treatment and treating all of their addictions except for one that is most likely to kill them – this makes no sense whatever!

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