Vitale Applauds First Psychiatric Hospitals For Going Smoke-Free

Greystone and Ancora First to Implement New Smoke-Free Policies as a Result of Senator’s Law

TRENTON – Senator Joseph F. Vitale today applauded officials at Greystone Park and Ancora psychiatric hospitals for being the first in the State to implement smoke-free policies under a law sponsored by the Senator and signed by the Governor last year.

“By their nature, psychiatric hospitals exist to promote health and wellness of the mind, body and soul,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, and Chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “Looking the other way while patients and employees light up seems contrary to the very mission of these facilities. I’m glad Greystone and Ancora are becoming the first smoke-free psychiatric hospitals in New Jersey, and I hope other facilities follow their lead.”

Under the new smoke-free policies, smoking would be prohibited at Greystone Park and Ancora. The new smoking ban would bar residents, patients, staff and visitors from smoking anywhere on the hospitals’ grounds. Both facilities have also established smoking cessation programs for employees and patients alike, and will continue to offer support to help people quit while enforcing the smoking ban at the facility.

“Studies have shown that patients and residents in psychiatric hospitals are more prone than other populations to nicotine addiction,” said Senator Vitale. “Not only that, but in some cases, the chemicals in cigarette smoke can lessen the effectiveness of certain psychotropic and anti-psychotic drugs. It’s well-past time that psychiatric hospitals recognize the health dangers of smoking and join every other public building in New Jersey in imposing and enforcing a strict, no-exceptions smoking ban on their grounds.”

The lawmaker said that he expects other facilities in New Jersey to follow the example of Greystone Park and Ancora. Under his bill, S-625, which was signed into law on April 7, 2008, facilities that fall under the jurisdiction of the Division of Mental Health Services under the Department of Human Services are permitted to prohibit smoking on their grounds if they’ve developed and maintained a smoking cessation program for one year prior to the ban going into place. Senator Vitale noted that at the time the bill was signed, Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Velez and her staff supported efforts to make psychiatric facilities in New Jersey smoke-free.

“I applaud Commissioner Velez and her staff for their commitment to making smoke-free psychiatric facilities a reality in New Jersey,” said Senator Vitale. “Smoking contributes to higher health care costs for facilities, reduced quality of life for patients and an early grave. Thankfully, Greystone and Ancora – and hopefully other facilities in the near future – are doing their part to help employees and patients kick the habit, and no longer giving tacit approval to this life-threatening practice.”

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