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Trenton Psychiatric Hospital grounds go smoke free

For Immediate Release:
October 6, 2009

For Information, Contact:
Ellen Lovejoy, 609-292-3703

TRENTON – Trenton Psychiatric Hospital goes totally smoke free today, making it the third state psychiatric hospital to prohibit smoking anywhere on the grounds as part of the mental health system’s overall focus on recovery and wellness.
The new restriction comes after more than a year of smoking-cessation programs at the hospital and three months after Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in Parsippany and Ancora Psychiatric Hospital in Winslow went smoke free. Administration at those two hospitals indicates that patients and staff have adjusted well to the change. 

"Nicotine addiction is a serious problem within the mental health community," Governor Jon S. Corzine said. "By going smoke free, our state's psychiatric facilities are helping patients with mental illness break the cycle of nicotine addiction and live longer healthier lives.”

“This initiative mirrors what is being done at hospitals, medical centers and corporations throughout the country and supports the DHS’ Division of Mental Health Services' (DMHS) efforts to embrace a system that focuses on wellness and recovery,” said DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez. “The advocacy of the Governor and legislators was essential in taking this step to support both patient and employee health.”

As required by state statute, a training curriculum was designed and all employees receive training in multiple tobacco cessation techniques.  The hospital has increasingly been prescribing smoking cessation treatments, running “Healthy Living Groups” and successfully creating smoke-free units. Educational information has been posted and distributed throughout the hospital and to family members.

“Studies show definitively that nicotine addiction negatively affects both clinical outcomes as well as life span in psychiatric patients, particularly,” said DHS Deputy Commissioner Kevin Martone, noting that nicotine decreases the effectiveness of some medicines. “Given what we know, we are taking responsible action to address the total health of patients while under our care.”

Employees at each of the state hospitals have been instrumental during the planning and implementation phases and many have already quit smoking as a result of this initiative.  Through a partnership with the Department of Health and Senior Services Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program and its NJ Quitcenters, DMHS will offer supports for hospital employees who want to stop smoking.

A study by the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors Medical Directors Council in 2006 revealed that people with mental illness live an average of 25 years less than the general population.  Approximately 75 percent are estimated to be addicted to nicotine, contributing to their premature death.

“As providers of healthcare, our state psychiatric hospitals should treat the illness, whether it is schizophrenia, nicotine dependence or high blood pressure,” Martone said.

Typically, a patient is admitted to a state hospital following a stay at an inpatient psychiatric unit of a local hospital. Approximately 20 inpatient psychiatric units located in local New Jersey hospitals, which send patients to the state hospitals for further treatment, are currently smoke-free.

In partnership with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, University Behavioral Health Care, DMHS developed and funded a manual that is considered a best practice tool nationally regarding smoking cessation. This manual and a consumer-operated support program are currently being used in New Jersey state psychiatric hospitals and are referenced in a National Association of Mental Health Directors national best-practices toolkit, “Tobacco Free Living in Psychiatric Settings.”

The DMHS cessation program also was coordinated with the New Jersey Departments of Health and Senior Services and Personnel, as required by the new law.

Governor Jon S. Corzine on April 7, 2008, signed legislation into law (S-625/A-2308 Vitale/Vainieri-Huttle, Cruz-Perez, Wagner, Munoz) that permits a smoking ban on the grounds of state psychiatric hospitals.  In March 2008, the bill passed with overwhelming support in the Legislature.



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