CODAC helps lead new effort against smoking

PROVIDENCE – CODAC Behavioral Healthcare is at the forefront of a statewide push to get Rhode Islanders with behavioral health issues to quit smoking.

CODAC members were among the 40 representatives from Rhode Island’s health care landscape to attend a tobacco cessation virtual summit held in July.

The event, sponsored by the R.I. Department of Health, R.I. Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, and the R.I. Executive Office of Health and Human Services, led to the creation of four work groups that are now working to identify resources and establish partnerships to effectively use those resources.

Linda Hurley, CODAC’s CEO and president, is co-chairing the education subcommittee and Carolyn James, tobacco program coordinator at CODAC, is co-chairing the subcommittee on systems change, equity and access.

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“CODAC has been really focused on tobacco cessation for 15 years. We were the first opioid treatment program in the country to become a tobacco-free campus,” Hurley said. “Tobacco is the only substance use disorder that will absolutely kill its users and is the leading cause of preventable deaths. Over 50% of people who use tobacco will die of smoking-related conditions. However, because the fatalities are not as acute and because it’s legal, there continues to be this sense of diminished risk.”

Elizabeth Graham is a PBN contributing writer.