Odyssey goes smoke-free

A pack of cigarettes being knocked over by dominos

We know that around three quarters of people accessing alcohol and other drug treatment are also tobacco smokers. We also know that diseases caused by tobacco smoking kill more people than drugs and alcohol combined1. Research from multiple studies suggests that people attempting to recover from alcohol and other drug use problems, have better abstinence outcomes 5-10 years later if they also quit smoking2, and that those quitting smoking during AOD treatment are also more likely to quit sooner3. In response to this research, Odyssey made the decision to go tobacco free at all its service sites. To implement this, we set up a working group in early 2019 and consulted staff, clients and industry bodies for feedback to determine the best way to support clients and staff towards this outcome.

The Circuit Breaker short-term residential program at Molyullah, near Benalla, went smoke-free in January this year. All residents are now provided with the option of Nicotine Replacement Therapies or Champix as alternatives to tobacco or smoking, and to help support their withdrawal. Prior to this, implementation of smoke-free services was discussed with residents in weekly action meetings, giving them the opportunity to give feedback, make recommendations, and raise any concerns. With the exception of residents of our Therapeutic Community (TC) in Lower Plenty, all other Odyssey House services went smoke-free for both staff and clients on 31st May (World No Tobacco Day). Our TC will go smoke-free in March next year, once the findings from the other areas of the organisation have been reviewed, in order to make sure the transition is as smooth and supportive as possible. 

Additionally, we have an Organisational Psychology Masters student from Deakin University who will be evaluating the change management process of going smoke-free at the TC. She may also be able to assist us in developing a resource for other residential services who wish to learn from our experience of going smoke-free.

  1. Scollo M.M., Winstanley M.H., editors. (2008) Tobacco in Australia: facts and issues. 3rd ed. Melbourne: Cancer Council Victoria.
  2. Tsoh, J.Y. et al. (2011) Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 114:110-118.  
  3. Kelly J.F. et al. (2019) Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 195:6-12.