Local Tobacco Program Coordinators Promote Tobacco Cessation in Behavioral Health


Local Tobacco Program Coordinators Promote Tobacco Cessation in Behavioral Health

Approximately one in four U.S. adults has some form of behavioral health condition.  While only comprising 25% of the adult population, these individuals consume almost 40% of all cigarettes smoked by adults (CDC, 2021).  Beyond that, smokers with serious mental illness have an increased risk of dying from cancer, lung disease, and cardiovascular disease, resulting in more than 200,000 of the 520,000 tobacco-related deaths in the U.S. each year (American Lung Association, 2021).  Tobacco-Free QC (TFQC), a bi-state coalition, is working to lessen the negative health impacts of tobacco and nicotine use, including those experienced by people living with behavioral health conditions, in our community.  To maximize the outcome of these efforts, TFQC wants to collaborate with local behavioral health providers to help support the overall health needs of Rock Island and Scott County residents.  TFQC is recommending two strategies that are easy to implement and can make a significant positive change.  The first strategy is to encourage behavioral health providers to talk about tobacco and nicotine use with every client at each visit, and connect those who use these products to cessation programs, like the free Quitline services in Illinois and Iowa.  It takes less than three minutes to have an impactful conversation about tobacco and nicotine use with a client. 

The second strategy is for behavioral health providers to create and/or strengthen their organization’s tobacco, nicotine, and smoke free policies.  Having a strong, comprehensive policy that extends to all types of tobacco, nicotine, and electronic smoking devices; applies to all employees and visitors; applies at all times of the day; and extends to company vehicles is a great visible way to show a commitment to the health of clients, employees, and the community.  TFQC created the Champion Award to recognize community partners that have implemented a strong organizational policy that lessens the impact of tobacco and nicotine in our community.  TFQC is excited to support the efforts of behavioral health providers by offering the following services: providing Quitline information, materials, and resources; educating behavioral health providers and teams on the tobacco and nicotine use assessment and referral process; helping to create and/or strengthen organizational policies; and awarding the Champion Award to agencies that meet the policy criteria.  If you would like to get started, send us an email at [email protected] and visit our website at tobaccofreeqc.org (this will also take you to our newly revamped website when it launches later in August 2021).

American Lung Association.  “Behavioral Health & Tobacco Use.” retrieved 20 Jul. 2021, https://www.lung.org/quit-smoking/smoking-facts/impact-of-tobacco-use/behavioral-health-tobacco-use.  

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Smoking & Tobacco Use.  “Tobacco Use and Quitting Among Individuals with Behavioral Health Conditions.” retrieved 20 Jul. 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/disparities/mental-illness-substance-use/index.htm.