There is a current trend for Community Health Facilities to become Tobacco-Free campuses, and Montrose Counseling Center is excited to become one as part of its ongoing commitment to overall wellness. As of June 1, smoking and all other tobacco products will be prohibited on the entire campus of MCC, including the parking lot and the cars parked there, and areas previously designated for smoking.
“We want to be clear,” says Andrea Washington, LCSW, Substance Abuse Treatment Coordinator at Montrose Counseling Center, “We are not telling you that you have to quit smoking, we are simply asking that while you’re here, help us create an environment needed to make healthy choices by not smoking or using other tobacco products on the campus.”
The decision for MCC to go tobacco free wasn’t taken lightly, however it was not a difficult one when we addressed it with our mission and vision statements. Our Mission is to “empower our community, primarily gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals and their families, to enjoy healthier and more fulfilling lives by providing culturally affirming and affordable behavioral health and prevention services,” and “we envision a healthier society marked by permanent, positive changes in attitudes and behaviors toward GLBT communities, and the ability of all GLBT individuals to realize their fullest potential.”
We looked at the statistics. Studies show that most smokers want to and intend to quit smoking. According to the American Lung Association, “A growing body of evidence indicates that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals are considerably more likely to use tobacco than the general population, with some studies estimating smoking rates as much as double the national average.” Persons with mental health and behavioral health (substance abuse) issues, as well as those who are HIV+, are 2 – 3 times more dependent on nicotine than the general population. They smoke more cigarettes on a daily basis, and they smoke them down to the filter more than other smokers.
Washington says, “One of the overall goals of MCC is to reduce dangerous coping strategies and promote healthy behaviors, and going tobacco-free is consistent with that focus.” She adds that now may be a good time to consider quitting, since studies show that doing so can improve health outcomes.
We know that this isn’t going to be easy on you if you’re a smoker, and we know that our own staff will need to set a standard for the rest of the community. That is why we will be offering support groups, in conjunction with the rest of the other beneficial services we offer through the EMBody Wellness Program. The campaign does not begin with quitting. We want to be sure you have the tools you need to reduce your tobacco dependence before you take that first step.
Over the course of the next several months, look for more information and details about our Tobacco-Free Campus. If you have any questions about the policy, please contact Andrea Washington at 713.800.0841.