May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which focuses on raising awareness of mental health issues and reducing stigma. Commercial tobacco addiction has a major impact on those with mental health concerns. About 25% of Wisconsin residents diagnosed with depression currently smoke compared to 16% of the general population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40% of all cigarettes smoked by adults in the U.S. are smoked by individuals coping with a behavioral health concern.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to add extra stress and anxiety to everyone, particularly those coping with a behavioral health challenge. This may lead to more frequent tobacco use for some and cause severe complication if diagnosed with COVID-19. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found individuals who smoke are more likely to be hospitalized after a COVID-19 diagnosis, and are almost two times more likely to die after a COVID diagnosis.
The South Central Alliance for Tobacco Prevention is working hard to support behavioral health providers by providing learning opportunities on incorporating tobacco use treatment into programs and creating tobacco-free environments.
Call the Wisconsin Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669) for free help quitting commercial tobacco.
Alysha Basel, community health educator, Juneau County Health Department, Mauston