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Smoking ban at Philly drug treatment centers riles social workers

A new ban on smoking at Philadelphia’s city-funded residential drug treatment centers has rankled some area social workers, who fear it will drive those battling addiction away from recovery programs altogether.

On Jan. 1, the city’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services’ began enforcing a prohibition on the use of tobacco products at 80 contracted drug treatment facilities. The move aims to improve health outcomes, according to officials, pointing to studies showing that quitting smoking during recovery may increase long-term abstinence rates by 25 percent.

But Brooke Feldman, a veteran social worker who runs a mental health and drug addiction consultancy, called the move an example of well-intentioned policy that’s out of touch with reality.

Feldman, in recovery for substance use disorder, said many of the 14,000 city residents entering treatment each year agonize over the decision to seek help in the first place.

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