Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Complete Smoking Ban starts at NJ Psychiatric Facilities

Today's (NJ) Newark Star Ledger has a piece up, stating that

Beginning today, smoking will be banned in all areas of the Greystone Park and Ancora psychiatric hospitals, with similar bans to follow at three other state psychiatric facilities, Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Velez said.

Smoking already is forbidden inside state psychiatric hospitals. The measure extends the ban to outdoor areas and affects patients, employees and visitors.

I would like to know what genius convinced Governor Corzine this is a good thing. They sure as hell didn't ask me. I have been i private and public hospitals- and what do you do in them? You smoke. Like Eliot's Prufrock measuring his life by tea spoons, you measure the hours by cigarette breaks.

The article goes on...

The ban comes 15 months after Gov. Jon Corzine signed legislation that divided the state's mental health community; proponents praised the health benefits for patients while opponents said the ban it violates patients' civil rights.

"This initiative mirrors what is being done at hospitals, medical centers and corporations throughout the country and supports the Division of Mental Health Services' efforts to embrace a system which focuses on wellness and recovery," Velez said.

Deputy Human Services Commissioner Kevin Martone cited a national study from 2006 that showed people with mental illness live an average of 25 years less than the general population. Some 75 percent are estimated to be addicted to nicotine, contributing to the premature death, the study found.

"That's not acceptable. Our intent is to increase the life-spans of our patients, not to shorten them," Martone said. "As providers of health care, our state psychiatric hospitals should treat the illness, whether it is schizophrenia, nicotine dependence or high blood pressure.

Mr. Martone- with all due respect, since I know you by one degree of separation- The last time I was in a hospital, the smokers were going off the wall, craving their cigarettes. The nurses were giving them patches, but the thing is about a patch, you want something to hold in your fingers, to put in your mouth, to shake into an ashtray, to grind the butt down. It's not just the process of lighting the cigarette, putting it to your lips and inhaling, it's everything.

Take it away from people in psychiatric hospitals, what do you get? A bunch of unhappy smokers who are forced against their will to wear patches and crave a cigarette. They get unhappy. They snap at the doctors, and nurses. They are miserable, crabby, and just not pleasant to be around.

And you mention high blood pressure. How many psychiatric drugs increase blood pressure? Have you looked? If I had a choice between a pill like, say Zyprexa,and a Marlboro, guess which one I would take?

Article continues.... one for, one against, standard stuff, but worth reading. Especially this quote by Carolyn Beauchamp, the President of the Mental Health Association in NJ.

These are not regular hospitals. Many of these people are not there by choice but are committed against their wills, sometimes for long periods of time'' Carolyn Beauchamp, president of the Mental Health Association in New Jersey, said last night.

"We're not in favor of smoking, but we think in these particular settings there should be some different standards that consider the rights and needs of these patients," she said.

You know, it's come a long way since my first stay in a hospital , where everyone smoked in the day room. Now it's outside, one cigarette an hour, with the staff lightning them for the patients. But it's still better than nothing.

Why do I feel so strongly about this? Because I found out one or two cigarettes a week quiets my brain better than most of the drugs I have been on. When I am suffering from suicidal ideation, smoking is the only thing that can get me out of that.

I shudder to think what will happen if I am hospitalized again, and cannot smoke. They better have chocolate. Lots of it.

Ancora State Hospital, NJ, From the Newark Star Ledger


Stephany said...

Yeah and the nicotine gum or Chantix pills they might give out can cause their own problems which could result in a "psychiatric" diagnosis and/or treatment add-on!

It's ridiculous, come on give me a break, that outside smoke-break time is the only solace most ppl get.

susan said...

Thank you Stephany!

I forgot about the Chantix pills they were giving out like M and M's.

NJ is really turning into a Nanny state and I am getting more and more upset. I just found out last night that they are asking "Are you mentally ill" now on drivers license renewals. I am too upset to write about it right now.

Stephany said...

Well where L was they would punish ppl who were skipping meds or not eating, etc. (those psych ward "rules")by taking away their outside time; well they would still give the smokers the outside time--so for one young woman (L)who did not smoke--they got away with taking away her outside time, because she didnt smoke (therefore need to go out in their mind)

Until I told them the ACLU would like to hear they were taking away her right to fresh air breaks.

My point, I guess, is if they take away smoking for outdoor breaks, what will motivate them to give ppl that outside time? because it's always so short-staffed in places they will cut that out.

Anyway, that Pink Floyd song would be a nice accompaniment for a smoke break huh?

(or a chocolate break?)


Wendy said...

Ok, I knew NJ was a foreign country the minute my husband took me home to meet his "Italian" mother after the wedding... I'm from Southern California. It was not a happy mix! But, I don't get why they are asking people if they have mental illness on drivers license renewals???? Like people are going to fess up and say "Yea and I drink and drive too."
My husband says the smoking ban at the Psychiatric Facilities is worse than the smoking ban at the bars here in Virginia! (As though HE has been anywhere near a Psych facility except as a visitor!!)

D Bunker said...

These people are little Hitlers. And it's the height of Arrogance to claim this smoking ban is out of concern for the inmates health.

People with 'Mental Illness' live 25 years less than other people? Of course they do, from the drugs which Ought, to be Criminalized: not some underlying non-biologically discernible, voted into existence by a show of COI-ed hands, Illness. Mental Hospitals are not about Health Care. They're about dehumanization, force or the implication of force, and physical abuse: either chemical or electrical.

None of these Quacks give a Rat's Ass about the inmates lungs. They're Power Tripping. I've blogged the 1941 Nazi Shove Health down Everyone's Throat already. Karl Astel declared that "abstinence from smoking is a National Socialist Duty."

RWJF/J&J/Risperdal Own Health Care. They also own the nicotine replacement Drug market, and they hand out Hundreds of Millions in seed money to anti-smoking groups to Peddle their Own brand of nicotine. (Nicoderm etc) And in the process they Wreck Local Economies. is all over it. For that link I put New Jersey in the search box.

Oh and Susan, ..... on the Driver's License? Ask the SOB to DEFINE Mental Illness, WITHOUT, resorting to that Pile Of Pharma Billing Code/Horse Hockey DSM.

susan said...

@Wendy, I just learned of the driving- let me get to it when my head is cooler! Your husband sounds like a sagacious man!

@Stephany, wouldn't it be great if chocolate had no calories?

@Bunker, thanks as always for your words of wisdom. You rock on finding things on the internet.

Anonymous said...

This seems really dangerous. People who might seek help will now be discouraged from doing it. Many alcoholics are shunning AA meetings in states that require them to be smoke free. These arrogant ban lobbyists are overstepping every boundary, even trying to alter Indian affairs.

D Bunker said...

", .. a system which focuses on wellness and recovery," Velez said.

The English language itself needs co-opting to give this pig in lipstick legs. What in the Hell is a Wellness? In Which anatomy textbook does anyone Find, a Wellness?

These hospitals are State Facilities. They are State funded. And a majority of Americans want State/Single Payer Health Care?

They need to have their noses rubbed in this sort of "Put them in the grave 25 years early while taking Nicoderm/Chantix Money to add Insult to their already Standing, State funded, State Controlled, RWJF subverted, Murderous Injury."

Sisyphusgal said...

No smoking will mean more addictive anti-anxiety meds to calm the masses. The hospital I go to actually added a smoke break in the afternoon a few years ago to hand out less meds.

Stephany said...

Great posting Susan, glad to see Philip pick it up too.

Ana said...

Don't these politicians have better laws to improve health?
This is ridiculous and will only create more harm to patients.
I'm amazed.

Anonymous said...

Favourite Yorkshireman?

You know who :-)

Anonymous said...

That is TOTALLY insane!

"but the thing is about a patch, you want something to hold in your fingers, to put in your mouth, to shake into an ashtray, to grind the butt down. It's not just the process of lighting the cigarette, putting it to your lips and inhaling, it's everything."

You've got that right!! When I'm i dunno.. "not right" i guess you could say.. I NEED that. It's why ive stopped and started smoking so many times..

Jaleesa said...

I've never been in a psychiatric hospital where smoking is allowed, so this isn't really news to me.

What's really funny is the implication that smoking is somehow less dangerous to a person's health than the drugs we take to control the illnesses. All drugs are dangerous; knowing the risks is the choice you take when you start using them. This whole good drugs vs bad drugs thing is really annoying. There are no inherently "good" drugs.

I didn't appreciate the, "They don't have any freedoms anyway so why allow the freedoms they have to stay" tone used by some of the defendents of this measure. People forget that you're going to a mental hospital, not prison...but the line is so thin, I guess it doesn't matter.

CuppaTea said...

Forcing someone to go without a smoke at their most stressed and mentally fragile is disgusting. Do these do-gooder policy makers know that no-one quits as a result of their bans? So what's the reason for banning it? Just because they can?

I've watched my son go through hell without a smoke in a psych hospital, at a time when he was suicidally depressed. It denied him the opportunity of making progress with the illness while in hospital, because his concentration disappeared, he became angry and felt he was being punished for being unwell.

Meanwhile, everyone else in the world walked past the hospital fence a few feet away smoking freely, and staff only had to step out the front door to light up whenever they wanted.

The smoking bans are discrimination against the mentally ill at their most vulnerable.

susan said...

@Cuppa Tea- (I love that name, btw),

My first stay in a hospital, when i was 22, everyone smoked. it was no big deal. The second time same thing. Ten years later, my stay- cigarettes no problem, but only one every hour, and you had to go outside to a smokers place. The facility itself was non smoking.

i wrote a piece on getting ECT then- how the only way you could tell time was by the smokers coming and going.

Now, i don't smoke- but in a hospital setting I do, because there is nothing else to do. Now, i do smoke- one to two cigarettes a week .l

Corzine and his cronies need to wake up. Corzine needs to go to Greystone, Ancora or Trenton and see what really goes on there. it's not as nice as Drumthwacket, i can tell you that.

Thank you for stopping by my blog. i hope you will visit again.

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