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Pennsylvania bans tobacco, vapes at 6 state hospitals

Jeff Himler
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LINDSAY FOX | PIXABAY

Tobacco products and vape devices have been banned at Pennsylvania’s six state mental health hospitals, including Torrance State Hospital in Derry Township.

“Smoking is a contributing factor to the shortened life expectancy of individuals with a mental illness,” Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller said Monday in a statement announcing the ban. “This initiative will further support health, wellness and recovery within these communities.”

The hospitals will be posted to advise patients, staff, visitors, contractors and tenants that the campuses and buildings are tobacco-free zones. The facilities will offer smoking cessation programs and support as needed, including nicotine patches and gum. Information about cessation support groups and programs will be posted online for employees.

The tobacco-free move resulted from a summit last year among state agencies and advocacy organizations aiming to reduce prevalent tobacco use among adults with behavioral health disorders.

Those who struggle with a mental health condition and also smoke have higher rates of psychiatric symptoms, more psychiatric hospitalizations and poorer treatment outcomes, according to the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors.

Smoking tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, claiming more than 480,000 lives annually, while 41,000 deaths each year are attributed to second-hand smoke.

Torrance State Hospital serves patients admitted through a civil program from 10 counties, including Westmoreland, Allegheny, Armstrong, Indiana, Fayette, Somerset, Butler, Blair, Bedford and Cambria. It also houses a Regional Forensic Psychiatric Center and a Sexual Responsibility and Treatment Program.

Other state hospitals subject to the ban are located at Clarks Summit, Danville, Norristown, Warren and Wernersville.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter @jhimler_news.

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