Cessation success rate among mentally ill improves when treatment is offered

When attempting to quit smoking, the success rate for individuals with a mental illness improves when treatment such as cessation counseling and medication is offered, according to Kim Richter, director of the University of Kansas Medical Center’s tobacco control program.

During the Kansas chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness annual conference in Topeka, Richter led a session on mental illness and tobacco use. Studies have shown that nearly half of the cigarettes consumed in the United States are smoked by people thought to have a mental illness – while it is also reported that those who have a mental illness die an average of 25 years earlier than those who don’t have a mental illness.

Chronic conditions stemming from tobacco use such as diabetes, heart attack, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cancer often take the lives of those with mental illness, Richter said. She said the success rate for quitting “cold turkey” is between zero and three percent, but methods such as counseling, cessation hotlines and prescription drugs boost the chance of successfully quitting.

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Kim Richter, director of the University of Kansas Medical Center’s tobacco control program. Source: KUMC