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Reducing Smoking Rates Among Mentally Ill

Armen Hareyan's picture

Forty percent of people with moderate to severe depression in Vermont smoke cigarettes, a rate more than double the adult population statewide (18 percent).

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"We know that people who seek treatment for mental illness are not responding well to our health promotion and disease prevention initiatives as they recover," said Barbara Cimaglio, deputy commissioner for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs at the Vermont Department of Health. "We need to find an effective, evidence-based, smoking cessation strategy."

People with severe and persistent mental illness have an average lifespan that is 25 years shorter than the general population. Cigarette smoking is the number one preventable cause of death in Vermont. About 800 Vermonters die each year from tobacco-related diseases, according to the 2008 Health Status of Vermonters report. Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, and can cause a number of chronic diseases including cancer, heart disease and stroke. Quitting smoking has immediate - as well as - long-term benefits.