Addressing smoking in community drug abuse treatment programs: practical and policy considerations.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. This public health problem is of particular concern among individuals with substance use disorders in that they smoke at a greater rate than the general public. Smoking-related illness represents a major source of preventable death in persons with drug dependencies. Substance abuse treatment programs have access to persons with substance use disorders and the opportunity to intervene on their smoking; however, nicotine dependence has historically not been viewed in the same light as other drug dependencies by the treatment field. As a result, many persons in these treatment program settings do not receive opportunities to address their smoking. When substance abuse treatment organizations consider implementing smoking policies and services, many questions and choices arise. In practice, a range of approaches has been developed from simple assessment and referral for smoking cessation treatment to implementing smoke-free grounds and requiring that patients stop smoking concurrent with addressing their other drug dependencies. Smoking cessation policy decisions have the potential to directly affect the patients, the workforce, the referral network, and other major stakeholders related to these organizations. The authors consider a range of both practical and policy issues facing treatment organizations and conclude that advances in smoking policy are possible with current resources.