BRUNSWICK — The MaineHealth Center for Tobacco Independence’s Breathe Easy initiative held the first annual Behavioral Health Gold Star Standards of Excellence Awards ceremony on June 7 to celebrate the efforts of Maine behavioral health organizations to address smoking and tobacco use on their campuses. Ten organizations from across the state and two individual champions were recognized for their achievements in advancing campus smoke- and tobacco-free policies, as well as promoting tobacco-free lifestyles.

Mid Coast Hospital’s Addiction Resource Center was recognized for meeting the silver level in the inaugural 2017 program for efforts to prohibit smoke and tobacco use on campus and address client tobacco use. All Maine behavioral health organizations 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.

The awards ceremony provided an opportunity for organizations to share successes and challenges of their efforts to create smoke- and tobacco-free campus environments and support and encourage tobacco-free lifestyles. While many acknowledged challenges faced when first adopting new campus policies and initiatives, all shared that addressing tobacco use on campus is an important health and environmental strategy for their organization.

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