Porter-Starke Services becomes a tobacco-free campus.

On November 17, Porter-Starke Services will implement an organization-wide tobacco-free policy. The policy will be implemented at all of the community mental health center's office locations in Portage, Valparaiso and Knox. The date for implementing the policy was selected in conjunction with the American Cancer Society's "Great American Smokeout."

To make the transition, Porter-Starke Services enlisted the help of the Tobacco Education and Prevention Coalition of Porter County (TEPC).

"Certainly there are higher prevalence rates of smoking among those individuals with mental health or addiction issues," said Susan Gleason, Executive Director of TEPC. "I commend Porter-Starke for dedicating themselves to the overall health of the clients they serve," said Gleason.

Porter-Starke Services implemented a tobacco-free policy among its employees in 2007 and the clients of the Inpatient Care Center in 2009. Rocco Schiralli, President/CEO of Porter-Starke, said that this was the next logical step.

"Individuals with behavioral health issues have been shown to die 25 years sooner than the average population," said Schiralli. "One of the reasons for this is the higher than average use of tobacco. As an organization that is dedicated to promoting the overall health of the community, this policy just makes sense," said Schiralli.

While there will be no tobacco use allowed on Porter-Starke property, the organization will provide healthy alternatives to tobacco use on-site, including nicotine replacement options, tobacco cessation resources and healthy alternatives in its ongoing programming. ?