On January 5, 2015, Good Samaritan Shelter Inc. will take an important step in supporting health by adopting a tobacco-free policy at their 11 sites in the cities of Santa Maria and Lompoc. They are the first multi-site behavioral health service agency in Santa Barbara County to institute this comprehensive treatment approach.Nancy Gottlieb, Good Samaritan’s Clinical Director, states that “tobacco use will now be treated like other substances that cause dependency.” She goes on to say, “We treat the whole person and this policy promotes health and wellbeing for our clients, staff and visitors.” Good Samaritan will no longer allow tobacco use, including the use of electronic cigarettes and electronic smoking devices. Neitherclients nor staff is required to quit smoking, though once the policy is implemented; they cannot smoke or use tobacco products while on site. All clinical staff has participated in 26-hours of training for smoking cessation instruction, in preparation for this transition, and will also receive onsite training and support from a cessation specialist.Good Samaritan will offer a complete tobacco cessation program for clients and employees. Services will include clinical assessment of tobacco use and readiness to change, educational materials, nicotine replacement therapy, cessation support groups, the support of the County of Santa Barbara Public Health Department and the 1-800 No Butts Helpline. Individuals with a substance addiction smoke at rates two to four times higher than the general population, thus have higher rates of mortality and morbidity. Recent research indicates that quitting smoking while in recovery can increase the chance of long-term sobriety by 25%. Having smoke-free workplace can effectively reduce secondhand smoke exposure by 72%. Nicotine is a drug and nicotine dependence is a severe addiction and Good Samaritan is dedicated to facilitating recovery from all addictive drugs.
“People come to our agency to reclaim their lives,” says, Sylvia Barnard, Executive Director. The incorporation of tobacco dependency treatment into our program is just another way to offer skills and resources to our clients and prepare them for reentry into the community. By creating an environment that replicates what many work and public places require; they are primed for success. “This is an important step in protecting the health of individuals who are heavily impacted by smoking related illness and exposed to dangerous secondhand smoke.”