West Texas Centers to end tobacco use on properties September 1

WEST TEXAS (KTAB/KRBC) - A West Texas service for people with mental health issues, as well as intellectual and developmental disabilities, will be implementing a new tobacco policy for their properties.

By September 1, all buildings and campuses owned and operated by West Texas Centers will be tobacco free.

The West Texas Centers is partnering with "Taking Texas Tobacco Free" (TTTF), which is funded by the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas. The TTTF project provides training, technical assistance and treatment resources to mental health authorities across the state in their efforts to become tobacco free.

More than 375 West Texas Centers' employees serve over 3,000 patients and their families each month, a large group that can be positively impacted through the program, according to Shelley Smith, West Texas Centers CEO.

People with mental illness account for at least one third of all smokers, and among those with substance abuse disorders, tobacco use is 3 times higher than the general population. Smoking is the number one cause of death in people with mental illness and addiction.

“This has been a long time coming and a step forward that we have made with a great deal of planning and foresight,” Smith said.

“Because of the population we serve – mental health and substance abuse patients – the addictions sometimes are so intertwined or co-occurring that we don’t want to disrupt a successful treatment plan by quickly eliminating a strong addiction like smoking. We were so thankful for CPRIT and TTTF to lend us their expertise and providing us with training, documentation and therapies to help with the process.”

“Taking Texas Tobacco Free has given us the necessary steps we have needed to make this adjustment,” Smith said.

West Texas Centers operates in 81 sites throughout their 23-county service area, including 15 mental health centers, 7 VO-Tech centers and over 23 offices across 23 rural West Texas counties.

West Texas Centers serves Andrews, Borden, Crane, Dawson, Fisher, Gaines, Garza, Galsscock, Howard, Kent, Loving, Martin, Mitchell, Nolan, Reeves, Runnels, Scurry, Terrell, Terry, Upton, Ward, Winkler and Yoakum counties.

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