Smoking banned at city-funded residential addiction treatment programs in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A somewhat controversial smoking ban has gone into effect in Philadelphia.

All city-funded residential drug and alcohol treatment programs are now tobacco-free. Some say it's too much too soon, but the research shows it works.

David T. Jones, Commissioner of Philadelphia's Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disabilities, says the end goal is not just to help someone beat drug and alcohol addiction, but also improve their overall life.

"It really is about we want to make sure the quality of life is a high quality of life," he said.

Smoking prevents that, it's detrimental to health. In fact, people addicted to drugs who also smoke, are more likely to die from smoking-related illness than from the drugs.

Jones says treating both unhealthy, addictive behaviors is best.

"The research has been pretty clear about that, that if an individual continues smoking, they actually increase the likelihood they'll relapse," he said.

If they quit smoking, they're more likely to stay in recovery.

Former professional skateboarder Brandon Novak was addicted to drugs and alcohol for more than two decades. He's now 4 years clean and working with Banyan Treatment Center. He tells Action News he's not sure he could've given up smoking while in rehab.

"I couldn't even focus on one thing which was heroin at the time, let alone the whole ordeal of smoking or not smoking" said Novak.

But he applauds the overall goal. Four months ago, he also quit smoking cigarettes.

"It made no sense to overcome all those adversities but still continue to do something that will ultimately kill me," he said.

Novak says he used what he learned in rehab to help him quit smoking.

Commissioner Jones says people aren't just required to quit, they go through smoking cessation programs to help them quit. Again, this is for city-funded residential addiction programs.

For help finding addiction treatment centers in Philadelphia by zip code, visit: www.CBHphilly.org

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