Department Awards $4 Million Grant To Help OASAS Treatment Sites Go Tobacco-Free

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 12, 2008) - New York's first-in-the-nation initiative to make all addiction service providers tobacco-free is getting support through a $4 million grant from the Department of Health for training and technical assistance.

Prevention and treatment programs certified or funded by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services will be eligible for free training under the grant. A regulation was proposed last July by OASAS which would require providers to implement tobacco-free policies on their grounds and integrate tobacco dependence treatment in their programs by July 24, 2008, the anniversary of the Indoor Clean Air Act.

DOH has awarded the grant to the Research Foundation of the State of New York's Professional Development Program (PDP) at the Rockefeller College of SUNY Albany. The PDP will provide the training and technical services for OASAS providers in New York State, who serve 110,000 clients daily.

OASAS Commissioner Karen M. Carpenter-Palumbo said, "Research has shown that addressing tobacco dependence actually increases an individual's overall recovery rate and extends life expectancy. We are pleased to collaborate with Department of Health on this groundbreaking public health initiative, and proud to have New York State lead the nation by eliminating tobacco use in the field of chemical dependence."

"Tobacco use causes more deaths each year than does alcohol, heroin, cocaine, HIV, homicides, suicides, fires and accidents combined," Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., said. "The leadership shown by OASAS to help their clients quit smoking and implement tobacco-free grounds will save lives and result in both clients and staff living longer, healthier, happier lives."

Treating tobacco addiction in substance abuse treatment settings has been a complicated and controversial subject among substance abuse treatment providers, in spite of research demonstrating better outcomes for patients who quit tobacco use at the same time they are addressing their other addiction. An 11-year study showed that 51 percent of deaths among addiction treatment patients were due to tobacco-related diseases. Sixty to 90 percent of patients in addiction treatment are tobacco-dependent, and about 40 to 50 percent are heavy smokers, defined as smoking more than 25 cigarettes per day.

The PDP will establish a training project to provide and oversee training and technical assistance throughout the state. Since its founding in 1976, the Professional Development Program has been a leader in the development of the public service workforce providing classroom-based training, distance learning and technical assistance on many social service and public health topics. Training will begin in the spring.

"The Professional Development Program is pleased to be part of this ground-breaking initiative," said Eugene Monaco, PDP Executive Director. "The blending of our cutting-edge resources and the creative talents of the PDP staff, with the incredible work of the dedicated chemical dependence service providers across the state, will be a winning partnership that will create healthier workplace environments and improve the health of both staff and those they serve as they work toward recovery."

Preventing and reducing tobacco use are the most important public health actions that can be taken to improve the health of New Yorkers. All New Yorkers can call the New York State Smokers' Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) for help quitting smoking.

OASAS oversees one of the nation's largest addiction services systems, treating 110,000 New Yorkers on any given day for alcohol, drug or gambling problems. For information or help with addiction, 24-hour-a-day help is available at 1-877-8HOPENY (1-877-846-7369). Additional information is available at www.oasas.ny.gov.