The Healing Place

The Facts about a Smoke-Free THP

The Facts about a Smoke-Free THP


There’s an old joke about a man who goes to the doctor and complains ‘Doctor, it hurts when I do this.’ To which the doctor replies ‘then don’t do that.’

On many levels that kind of logic applies to our decision to create a tobacco-free environment on our campuses beginning June 16th; the intent is simple – to enhance the health and futures of our clients and our staff.

Since the initial announcement there have been many comments from our alumni and others regarding this decision – many of them negative. We expected that. But none of those comments are based in fact or science or could in any way dispute the simple fact that smoking kills. That half a million deaths are caused by tobacco-related illnesses annually and we can no longer stand by and help that number rise. It was a decision not made quickly nor lightly and is one that staff – both in recovery and not, both smoker and nonsmokers – solidly stand behind. We carefully examined all the evidence, both scientific and anecdotal. It’s for the best and frankly, overdue.

Let’s be clear, the decision has been made. Yet disagreements, blame, assumptions, and misconceptions have circulated about why; so let’s also be clear about facts, not opinions.

Fact: No outside agency or entity is forcing us to go smoke-free. Not the Department of Corrections nor the Department of Anything.

Fact: The Healing Place has no financial stake in this decision. Nobody’s giving us any money to do so, as some have suggested.

Fact: This decision was made by staff, not by our Board, which stands firmly behind it.

Fact: We’re not making clients quit. They and all staff just can’t smoke on our campuses. We’re also being pro-active offering smoking cessation programs for all who want them free of charge.

Fact: New clients will still be allowed to smoke while in the care of our Detox facilities prior to entering the Program or discharge.

Fact: This decision will save lives.

It is often argued that we can’t expect alcoholics and addict to give up everything at one time but we require to them to give up all drugs and alcohol at the same time. We don’t ask people to stop using heroin but continuing smoking crack. One cannot argue that point and exclude nicotine when it kills nearly half a million people each year, many of who are in recovery. If we went with the lesser of two evils argument we would say it is okay for people to snort heroin but not use it intravenously or to work marijuana maintenance and quit drinking. It just doesn’t work that way. Nicotine is a drug of reward, one could argue the ultimate drug of reward since it is the hardest drug to quit using (also a fact.)

Last of all, we are not requiring people to quit smoking. We are only disallowing from it our property. This is no different than not smoking in someone’s house, car, or every other establishment in the city of Louisville. People will continue to have a choice and there are other programs out there if our non-smoking policy does not work for them. Once again, half a million people die every year from tobacco related diseases – and we are committed to being part of the solution, not the problem.