DBHDD to start 2010 tobacco-free

November 19, 2009

ATLANTA – On January 5, 2010, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) will bring in the New Year as a tobacco-free agency. The policy will prohibit the use of tobacco on the grounds of all facilities occupied or controlled by DBHDD.

The agency will kick-off its campaign to educate employees, consumers, advocates, and visitors about the new policy on Thursday, November 19, 2009 which coincides with the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout. All seven regional hospitals will provide materials that encourage living a tobacco-free life, as well as tobacco cessation options.

“DBHDD is committed to providing an environment for employees and consumers that promote healthy living,” said Frank Shelp, DBHDD Commissioner. “As healthcare professionals, we have a responsibility to act in the best interest of our consumers who out seek our facilities for guidance. There is certainly no better place to deal with addiction than our facilities.”

According to a report released by the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD), nearly half of all cigarettes consumed in the United States are by individuals with a psychiatric disorder. People with serious mental illness, on average, die 25 years younger than the general population – largely from conditions caused or worsened by smoking. The policy not only promotes a tobacco-free lifestyle but also provides protection against the dangers of secondhand smoke.

“Since the creation of The Great American Smokeout in 1977, it has helped to spotlight the dangers of tobacco use and the challenges of quitting, but more importantly, it has set the stage for cultural changes in tobacco control. We are elated that DBHDD has now become a part of that cultural change in Georgia by implementing tobacco-free policies at all of their facilities,” said Eric Bailey, representative of the American Cancer Society.

DBHDD is working with the Department of Public Health to make the Georgia Tobacco Quit Line available to all employees and consumers who need assistance. Tobacco users can call 1-877-270-STOP for free counseling, support and referrals.

The DBHDD tobacco - free policy is in compliance with the Georgia Smokefree Air Act of 2005. The act allows for a more restrictive laws, rules and regulations to be passed and can be viewed at http://dhr.georgia.gov/gasmokefreeair. For additional information regarding the DBHDD tobacco-free policy or tobacco cessation options, please visit http://dbhdd.georgia.gov.

Contact Information: 
Kristie Swink (knswink@dbhdd.ga.gov)