Health Care Providers Address Reducing Smoking Rates Among Mentally Ill

For Immediate Release: June 18, 2008
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
802-863-7281

BURLINGTON – Forty percent of people with moderate to severe depression in Vermont smoke cigarettes, a rate more than double the adult population statewide (18 percent). Mental health and substance abuse counselors will meet on Friday at the Three Stallion Inn in Randolph, Vt., 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., to discuss a plan to improve the overall health of people coping with mental illness and addiction to nicotine.

“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.

The training session, “Healthier Living Through Coping Strategies and Smoking Cessation: Address Health Disparities” is sponsored by the State of Vermont and the American Cancer Society, and will include speakers from the Health Department, the Department of Mental Health, the Howard Center and Washington County Mental Health.

For more information visit the Health Department website at: www.healthvermont.gov.

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