In early 2019, our leadership team committed to being part of the local Tobacco-Free Behavioral Health Initiative led by Mecklenburg County Public Health. Over the next several months, we leaned hard on Mecklenburg County’s Tobacco Prevention and Control team for guidance as we planned to make a huge change within our organization: to go completely tobacco-free by 1/1/2021.
We took several steps towards a successful policy implementation, including:
- Beginning to gather anonymous staff feedback in April 2019 on tobacco use and potential support of a tobacco-free initiative
- Providing nicotine cessation/quit support to staff through our company healthcare plan
- Developing a Wellness Committee in September 2019 to begin the groundwork for policy development
- Utilizing our partners at DHHS Public Health in Raleigh and leaders at Mecklenburg County Public Health to review our draft of the policy
- Having all staff acknowledge receipt of the finalized policy in March 2020
- Training all managers and key staff on the benefits of tobacco-free recovery
- Facilitating confidential patient interviews to gather feedback on the tobacco-free initiative through partnership with Mecklenburg County Public Health and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte
- Requiring all counselors to attend Tobacco Dependence Treatment training to support the integration of nicotine cessation into our treatment service model
- Hosting several virtual town hall meetings/forums to educate all staff on the initiative
- Applying for a grant from the American Heart Association to support nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) in the form of patches, gum, and lozenges for residential treatment patients
Through planning, hard work, and incredible support from our friends at Mecklenburg County Public Health, we are honored to champion the tobacco-free initiative as one of the largest community-based behavioral health providers in the county.