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AMHC Recognized for Leadership to Advance Tobacco-Free Policy

Left to right: Dawn Roberts - ACAP Community Education Specialist, Gregory Disy - AMHC CEO, Jo-Ellen Kelly - ACAP Community Education Specialist

Recognized for Addressing Tobacco Use 

The MaineHealth Center for Tobacco Independence’s Breathe Easy initiative held the first annual Behavioral Health Gold Star Standards of Excellence Awards ceremony on Wednesday, June 7, to celebrate the efforts of Maine behavioral health organizations to address smoking and tobacco use on their campuses.  Ten organizations from across the state and two individual champions were recognized for their achievements in advancing campus smoke and tobacco-free policies as well as promoting tobacco-free lifestyles. Two Aroostook County organizations were among the ten recognized.

Maine Behavorial Health was recognized for meeting the Gold Level in the inaugural 2017 Gold Star Standards of Excellence Program for efforts to prohibit smoke and tobacco use on campus and address client tobacco use. Aroostook Mental Health Center was recognized for meeting the Silver Level in the inaugural 2017 Gold Star Standards of Excellence Program.  All Maine behavioral health organizations were invited and encouraged to apply for recognition; organizations that met at least six of ten Gold Star Standards were recognized with a plaque.  Award levels are based on best practice criteria such as a smoke and tobacco-free campus policy, annual screening for tobacco use, referral to tobacco treatment and supporting employee education related to tobacco treatment.

“People living with substance abuse and psychiatric disorders are two to four times more likely to use tobacco; tobacco-free campus policies support a healthy, smoke-free social norm for clients and employees. We applaud the efforts of our Gold Star behavioral health organizations to proactively address smoking and tobacco use.” said Sarah Mayberry of the MaineHealth Center for Tobacco Independence.

The awards ceremony provided an opportunity for organizations to share successes and challenges of their efforts to create smoke and tobacco-free campus environments and support and encourage tobacco-free lifestyles.  While many acknowledged challenges faced when first adopting new campus policies and initiatives, all shared that addressing tobacco use on campus is an important health and environmental strategy for their organization.

"Heart disease, cancer and respiratory diseases are just a few of the physical and medical problems associated with smoking. Having smoke-free and tobacco-free environments as the norm rather than the exception promotes a healthier lifestyle for everyone." said Dawn Roberts of Aroostook County Action Program.

The Breathe Easy Tobacco-Free Behavioral Health initiative at the MaineHealth Center for Tobacco Independence is dedicated to providing Maine’s behavioral health providers with the information and resources needed to make all organizations smoke and tobacco-free.

The program is funded by Maine Prevention Services. Maine Prevention Services is an initiative through the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention working across the state to impact tobacco, substance use, and obesity.