Document Type

Psychiatry Issue Brief

Publication Date





People with Severe Mental Illness (SMI) consume nearly half of all tobacco sold in the US (Lasser, Boyd, Woolhander, Himmelstein, McCormick, & Bor, 2000). Compared to the general population, individuals diagnosed with SMI are at greater risk of co-morbid health problems and premature death (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2002; National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, 2006). Often individuals with SMI are unaware of supportive services such as Quitlines, Nicotine Anonymous (NIC-A) meetings, and/ or Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT). To compound matters, many states have cut tobacco cessation funding, and few mental health programs provide integrated approaches to tobacco cessation. Programs lack trained staff or peers to assist people with SMI who wish to quit or to learn about the harmful consequences of tobacco use (e.g. cigarettes, cigars, or chewing tobacco). However, evidence suggests that people with SMI can be successful in quitting. This Issue Brief describes our efforts to engage this population in tobacco cessation activities.

Subject Area

Tobacco Addiction


Education and Training, Wellness

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Copyright © University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.



Email the Authors

Colleen E. McKay, Douglas M. Ziedonis, Gregory Seward, Valerie Williams, Kevin Bradley, Jennifer Colburn, and David Rocheleau