Vail Place Goes Tobacco Free April 1

Vail Place Goes Tobacco Free April 1

In an effort to continue to provide our clients with services designed to help them live stable and healthy lives, Vail Place will implement a tobacco-free policy at all of our Twin Cities locations.

The policy, which will go into effect on April 1, will prohibit smoking and the use of commercial tobacco products, including electronic delivery devices, at all times by staff members, participants and visitors on any Vail Place property.

Facing the facts

While tobacco use has often been viewed by some in mental health and substance-use treatment as a low priority and even as a potential coping mechanism it is the number one cause of death and disease among those with mental illness. First- and second-hand exposure to tobacco smoke can actually interfere with the effectiveness of some medications designed to treat mental illness.

There are simply no safe levels of commercial tobacco use. People with mental health challenges recognize the dangers associated with tobacco use just like everyone else, and contrary to popular myths, surveys have shown that they are just as interested in quitting – and just as able to quit– as others who use tobacco. What’s more, people in treatment for substance use disorders who also receive tobacco treatment are 25 percent more successful in long-term abstinence from alcohol and other drugs.

Leading the movement

By implementing the tobacco-free policy, Vail Place joins a growing movement among behavioral health organizations that recognize the importance of treating the whole health of their clients. People with mental illness or substance use disorders have higher rates of tobacco use, but are often not given resources to quit tobacco use. Studies have shown that adults with serious mental health illness and a tobacco-related diagnosis on average die 32 years earlier than adults without a serious mental health illness and without a tobacco-related diagnosis.

The Vail Place tobacco-free policy is being supported by the American Lung Association in Minnesota to reduce tobacco-related health disparities among those with mental illness and substance use disorders. The Association has provided professional education and technical assistance to help facilitate the implementation of the policy. Their work is funded, in part, by the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota as part of Blue Cross’ long-term commitment to tackle the leading causes of preventable disease: tobacco use, lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating.

Fulfilling our mission

With locations in Hopkins and Uptown Minneapolis, our organization works to help people with serious mental illnesses avoid crisis, achieve stability and pursue active, fulfilling lives based on their individual abilities. “Tobacco use is the primary cause of death and disease among individuals with mental illnesses,” said Vicky Coulliard, executive director of Vail Place. “To continue to allow tobacco use on our grounds would simply not be in alignment with our mission to cultivate hope and inspire change to promote mental health recovery.”

In addition to reducing the physical-health impacts, there are also behavioral health benefits associated with treating tobacco dependence. An analysis of 26 separate studies showed improved mental health with quitting smoking and found that anxiety, depression, mixed anxiety and depression, and stress significantly decreased among those who quit smoking compared with those who continued smoking.

Celebrating change

On October 30, 2018, The Minnesota Association of Community Mental Health Programs (MACMHP) honored Vail Place with the MACMHP Program Innovation and Community Collaboration Award for our decision to transition to tobacco-free. The award recognizes an organization who developed innovative ways to promote health and wellness and/or partnerships to overcome challenges to service delivery to improve the health of individuals recovering from mental illness and substance use disorder.

Chris Matter, senior program manager, Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota said, “Your leadership at Vail Place and commitment to tobacco-free campuses and supporting staff and clients with services to quit tobacco use is at the forefront of this movement in Minnesota. We join with you in creating environments where everyone has access to clean air.”

Vail Place employs a unique work- and relationship-oriented approach that empowers each person to take control of his or her recovery. We care about the whole health of our clients, members, staff and visitors, and helping the people we serve go tobacco-free will help us to further achieve our goals.