Avivo will be tobacco-free on July 30

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. The good news is that usage has been gradually dropping. In Minnesota, for example, tobacco usage has dropped to just over 14%. The story is different in our chemical and mental health programs.  Tobacco use in some programs is as high as 90%.

Avivo plans to help curb those numbers and be completely tobacco-free at all of its locations by July 30 2018. This is also the date the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) plans to have public housing properties go tobacco-free.

Thanks to partnerships with ClearWay Minnesota and the American Lung Association, one of our Minneapolis locations is leading the way as a pilot non-smoking location. They’re testing ways to implement tobacco-free policies that don’t make smokers the bad guys, but instead give them avenues to quit.

Sally Sales, program director at Avivo, believes Avivo’s partnerships with ClearWay Minnesota and the American Lung Association (ALA) couldn’t have come quickly enough. “Studies have shown that people who live with serious mental illness and substance abuse disorders die 25 years earlier than the rest of the population. And it’s not because of the reasons many people assume.”

That’s a staggering statistic. But, the average lifespan for a person living with a mental illness or substance abuse disorder is shorter because of modifiable, or potentially correctable, conditions. Those include smoking, obesity, and more.

Avivo believes these conditions can be fixed when there’s a support network in place and that it’s important to provide people with the tools and support they need to succeed.

Darlene is a participant in one of Avivo’s community support programs, and she’s celebrating her first smoke-free year at the end of the month. “I never thought I could quit,” she says, “but I was having [health] problems … Now I’m not coughing anymore, and I have a bit more cash.”

According to participant surveys we conducted this year with the help of ALA, many of the tobacco users in our programs say they’d like to quit.  Their reasons are often the same as Darlene’s and those of the general public: to save money and live healthier.

“When you talk to our clients about tobacco, they’ll tell you quitting is on their minds. They just need support,” says Sales. “We plan to become an organization where all of our grounds are free of commercial tobacco use.”

Everyone who’s trying to quit has a reason, and that’s why Avivo is proud to support our program participants in being tobacco-free.