Indoors and outdoors, smoking will be banned at 1,400 recovery centers throughout the state starting next summer. In place of their butts, patients will be offered free treatment for their nicotine addictions.
The $8 million program offers addicts an "entire recovery plan," said Karen Carpenter-Palumbo, commissioner for the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.
"We know that 92 percent of those addicted to alcohol or drugs are smokers," said Carpenter-Palumbo, who was in Middletown yesterday to meet with officials from Orange Regional Medical Center and Catskill Regional Medical Center.
"We know it's a trigger to alcohol and drug addiction. And we know smoking kills 25,000 New Yorkers each year."
But some counselors are concerned the smoking bans will stop some addicts from getting treatment.
"It's easier for the state to make this rule than for people to follow it," said Amado Valdes, supervisor at Restorative Management Corp. in Middletown. "I've helped people kick heroin, cocaine and alcohol. Maybe it's too much to ask them to do."
Repeat offenders of the smoke-free edict could be booted from state-certified programs under the new regulation.
"If they continue to smoke, they'll be moved to a different program or discharged," said Carpenter-Palumbo.
Monroe Bussey, program director at Catholic Charities Community Service in Newburgh, says that would be a mistake.
"We wouldn't want to kick anybody out for smoking," he said. "We need to understand that the needs of the client come first."
Bussey's center is among the 70 percent that currently allow smoking on the premises. He favors providing care for nicotine addiction along with treatment for alcoholism and drug dependency — but he wonders how difficult it will be to get patients and counselors to obey the new rule.
"We have a lot of staff that smokes," he said.
"They'll have to get used to the idea they can't smoke on the property. Nicotine is probably the most addictive substance in the world."
source: Times Herald-Record