Across the nation, tobacco-free policies are making workplaces, school campuses and homes safer. Meanwhile, there have been relatively few policies aimed at community mental health boards. In Michigan, community mental health boards serve clients of all ages and backgrounds – children with intellectual developmental disabilities, adults with severe emotional disturbances and mental illnesses and elderly clients with mental illnesses. They provide services including treatment, counseling, health care and job training. These facilities face some of the greatest tobacco use disparities. Individuals with a psychiatric or substance abuse disorder smoke 44 percent of all cigarettes consumed in the United States. 1

Jim Harrington, Field Organizer for the American Lung Association of Michigan, knew it was time for a change. Harrington approached Northern Lakes Community Mental Health to partner on the creation of a tobacco free campus policy. Greg Paffhouse, CEO of Northern Lakes Community Mental Health, recognized the burdens tobacco use placed on his agency’s clients – not just their health but also their pocketbooks. With buy-in from Northern Lakes and a grant from the American Lung Association National Office, work began to create the systems change needed for a supportive, tobacco-free environment.

Check out their action plan and the video below to learn more about Northern Lakes Community Mental Health’s plan to address tobacco use within their community:

1 Lasser K, Wesley BJ, Woolhandler S, Himmestein DU, McCormick D, Bor DH. Smoking and mental illness: A population-based prevalence study. JAMA. 2000; 284:2606-2610.

Resources to check out