Smoking is much more common among persons with behavioral health conditions (mental illnesses and/or substance use disorders). Persons with these disorders are more likely to die from smoking related causes than any other reason. Studies have shown that stopping smoking can improve mental health function, as well as improve outcomes for substance use disorders. Yet, for a variety of reasons, smoking cessation has not been integrated into the treatment of behavioral health conditions, and in many instances tobacco use was not only condoned but encouraged. Beginning in 2007, the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center (SCLC) began engaging relevant agencies in an attempt to stimulate more vigorous smoking cessation activities. Partners included the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, advocacy organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, and clinical groups such as the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, National Council on Behavioral Health, and National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors. A signature program featured 16 individual state summits involving agencies and groups from multiple sectors, all aiming to lower smoking rates in behavioral health populations. These activities mark an evolving culture change within behavioral health.

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