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County health sites earn tobacco prevention stars

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Earlier this summer, four Aroostook County behavioral health organizations were celebrated through the Gold Star Standards of Excellence program, sponsored by the MaineHealth Center for Tobacco Independence’s Breathe Easy initiative.

The Gold Star Standards of Excellence program celebrates the efforts of Maine behavioral health organizations addressing smoking and tobacco use on their campuses. The four celebrated organizations from across the county, and one individual champion, are being recognized for their achievements in advancing campus smoke and tobacco-free policies as well as promoting tobacco-free lifestyles.

2018 Awardees are: Gold, County Behavioral Medicine; Silver, Aroostook Mental Health Center, The Northern Lighthouse and Your Journey, LLC; and individual Gold Star recipient, Cody Tompkins, The Northern Lighthouse.

County Behavioral Medicine, along with AMHC, The Northern Lighthouse and Your Journey, earned the recognition for efforts to implement policies, procedures and treatment strategies to prohibit smoke and tobacco use on campus and address client tobacco use. All behavioral health organizations in Maine were invited and encouraged to apply for recognition; organizations that met at least six of 10 Gold Star Standards were recognized with a plaque.

Award levels are based on best practice criteria such as a smoke and tobacco-free campus policy, annual screening for tobacco use, referral to tobacco treatment and supporting employee education related to tobacco treatment.

Cody Tompkins from the Northern Lighthouse Inc. was recognized for his leadership to advance a tobacco-free policy for his agency that encourages a tobacco-free lifestyle and protects his community and workplace from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.

“Cody was a joy to work with on the policy for The Northern Lighthouse, this policy will make a huge impact on tobacco use in his workplace since they have 6 locations in Aroostook County and one in Waterville,” said Dawn Roberts, community educator for tobacco prevention at ACAP.

While implementing tobacco-free campus policies and treatment initiatives can have its challenges, the celebrated organizations are showcasing how addressing tobacco is an important strategy for their organization and supports their wellness mission, Roberts said.

For more information about the Tobacco-Free Behavioral Health initiative and Gold Star Standards of Excellence recognition program, visit BreatheEasyMaine.org/Behavioral Health.

The program is funded by Maine Prevention Services. Maine Prevention Services is an initiative through the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention working across the state to impact tobacco, substance use, and obesity.

Local Tobacco Prevention services are provided by Aroostook County Action Program Community Educators, Dawn Roberts and Jo-Ellen Kelley. If you would like more information about the GSSE or help creating a policy in your area, please reach out to them at 554-4151.

Submitted by the Aroostook County Action Program.

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