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Laura Galbreath

Director, SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions

How do we decrease tobacco use for everyone?

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Last week, the New York Times reported on the the continued decline of cigarette use, a trend highlighted by a recent CDC survey.

While tobacco use has continued to go down for the general population, one group has not made the same progress.

Half of the annual tobacco-related deaths in the United States are people with a mental illness. That’s because people with a substance use disorder or mental illness smoke cigarettes at a rate up to 94 percent higher than adults without these disorders.

One important way to decrease smoking in this population is to ensure they have access to and receive behavioral health care. Among people with mental illnesses who received treatment, 37 percent quit smoking.

Anti-smoking efforts have not been directed toward people with mental illnesses as they have toward the general population. This has to change. To truly turn the tide on our nation’s obsession with nicotine, we must focus on the people who are disproportionately affected by the negative results of its use. 

Here are a few resources to help you address tobacco use in behavioral health settings: