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Celebrate Mental Health Month in May by becoming tobacco-free

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Wed, May 1st 2019 07:00 am

Cigarette smoking worsens chronic mental health conditions; New York State Smokers' Quitline offers free resources to quit

Guest Editorial by New York State Smokers' Quitline

May is Mental Health Month, which promotes healthy lifestyle choices and raises awareness about conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Smoking exacerbates treatment for these conditions and affects people with poor mental health disproportionately. The New York State Smokers' Quitline encourages all residents of New York, especially those suffering from chronic mental health conditions, to call 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) for free resources to become tobacco-free.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while approximately one in four adults in the U.S. report having mental health or substance abuse disorder, they consume nearly 40 percent of cigarettes smoked. The CDC also reports:

•Nicotine has mood-altering effects that can temporarily mask the negative symptoms of mental illness, putting people with mental illness at higher risk for cigarette use and nicotine addiction.

•Tobacco smoke can interact with and inhibit the effectiveness of certain medications taken by mental health and substance abuse patients.

•The most common causes of death among people with mental illness are heart disease, cancer and lung disease, which can all be caused by smoking.

•Becoming tobacco-free improves anxiety, mood, stress and even treatment outcomes for mental health conditions.

In addition to support from a doctor and/or mental health specialist, “quit coaches” at the Quitline can assist tobacco-users to develop a quit-plan through personalized coaching support, to overcome cravings and to properly use nicotine replacement therapy such as patches, gum and lozenges.

The Quitline encourages all smokers to support Mental Health Month by taking steps to become tobacco-free and understand the linkage between smoking and poor mental health. In 2018, 39 percent of New York state callers to the Quitline reported having a mental health condition.

Besides calling 1-866-NY-QUITS, smokers and their loved ones can access Quitline resources anytime online at www.nysmokefree.com for additional smoking cessation tools and tips.

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