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Six months in, Philly assesses its smoking ban in inpatient rehabs

Six months into a ban on smoking in all city-funded inpatient drug treatment centers, Philadelphia officials say the prohibition hasn’t impacted the number of people seeking or staying in addiction treatment — in fact, they say, more people are entering rehab.

But advocates call the ban an unnecessary barrier to treatment in the middle of an overdose crisis. They say they’ve been fielding stories for months of people who are reluctant to seek treatment because of the ban — and of patients who leave treatment because they’ve been caught smoking, or simply aren’t ready to quit cigarettes.

The ban took effect in January of this year, and city health officials at the time cited studies showing that people who quit smoking at the same time they quit heroin had a lower risk of relapse.

In an interview Monday, David T. Jones, commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services noted that tobacco is killing far more Philadelphians than opioid overdoses, with an estimated 4,000 deaths a year related to smoking. (In Philadelphia, 1,217 people died of overdoses in 2017, and another 1,116 people fatally overdosed here in 2018.)

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