***Please sign by July 31, 2018***
An Open Letter To Minister John Haggie Regarding No-Smoking Policies at the Waterford Psychiatric Unit and the Recovery Centre
To: Hon. John Haggie, Minister of Health and Community Services CC: Ms. Gerry Rogers, MHA for St. John's Centre
As front-line workers who support those living with mental health issues and addictions we call for the following measures: that Eastern Health's no-smoking policies be amended to allow patients receiving mental health and addictions treatment to smoke in designated smoking areas, specifically at the Waterford's Psychiatric Unit and the Recovery Centre.
According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, people with mental health and addictions issues are 70% more likely to smoke and 50% less likely to quit. In 2009 Eastern Health introduced a Smoke-Free Environment policy which eliminated smoking at all Eastern Health operated facilities and properties. As a result of this policy, many clients who smoke and are seeking treatment for mental health and addictions have been reluctant to voluntarily admit themselves for inpatient care, or have found it more difficult to remain in treatment after their admission. However, section 4(1.2a,b) of the Smoke-Free Environment Act makes exemptions for health care facilities that provide long term care as well as psychiatric facilities and units, to allow inpatient smoking in designated areas.
The consensus among the undersigned, those at the front line of mental health and community services in St. John's, Newfoundland, is that smoking cessation policies at the Waterford Psychiatric Unit and the Recovery Centre create unnecessary barriers to patients seeking vital and life-saving treatment for mental health and addictions. Eastern Health’s Smoke-Free Environment Policy is preventing patients from receiving treatment and is further contributing to the cycle of illness.