Healthier, Smoke-free Lives for People with Mental Illnesses and Substance Use Disorders
Who We Are
The National Partnership on Behavioral Health and Tobacco use represents clinical organizations, government agencies, non-profit and advocacy groups, corporate, and philanthropic foundations, all committed to expand and accelerate efforts to combat disparities in tobacco use and tobacco treatment services for individuals with mental health and/or substance use disorders.
Individuals with mental illness and/or substance use disorders (behavioral health) represent 25% of the Nation’s population, yet they consume 40% of all cigarettes sold in the US. Half a million Americans die each year due to tobacco use – half of which are individuals with a behavioral health condition.
Smokers die 10 years earlier than non-smokers on average (Source: CDC Fast Facts). Recognizing that this epidemic is a social justice issue, the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center (SCLC) convened national leaders from tobacco control, public health and the behavioral health sectors to develop a plan that expands and accelerates efforts to combat disparities in smoking prevalence and treatment for those with mental health and/or substance use disorders. Thus, the National Partnership on Behavioral Health and Tobacco Use was born.
Having reached the target of 30% well ahead of schedule – smoking prevalence in the behavioral health population fell to 30.5% in 2017– the National Partnership has now adopted a more ambitious target to reduce smoking rates to 20% by the year 2022.
ACS and SCLC co-hosted a first-of-its-kind, multi-sectoral summit at ACS’s global headquarters in October 2016, where the new national partnership adopted a goal of reducing smoking prevalence in the behavioral health population in the U.S. from 34.2% in 2015 to 30% in 2020. (Source: United States Department of Health and Human Services. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2017. Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI International [distributor.) The participants included senior leaders of health professional organizations, federal agencies, not-for-profit health organizations, managed health care companies, and experts in behavioral health and tobacco prevention and cessation.
Current Smoking Among Adults (age> 18) with Past Year Behavioral Health (BH) Condition
Baseline: 30.5% (2017) Target: 20% by 2022
When the smoking rate among the behavioral health population dropped to 30.5% in 2017, the Partnership convened its second summit in November 2018 with an expanded roster of 24 members. An ambitious new target, along with specific strategies to reach that ambitious goal, was set to reduce smoking rates to 20% by the year 2022 (“20 by 22”).
The most recent data from our partners at SAMHSA shows that current smoking among adults with a behavioral health condition continues to decrease at a statistically significant level. In 2019, NSDUH data provided by Doug Tipperman shows that 28.9% of adults with any behavioral health condition smoked. This is down from 30% in 2018.
Though 2020 numbers are still unknown, this drop is a positive step toward meeting our goal of "20 by 22".
The Partnership’s new action plan consists of multiple strategies in six categories:
- Billing & Coding
- Tobacco-Free Facilities
Each of the 27 participating organizations pledged to undertake specific actions towards achieving the “20 by 22” target, and multiple collaborative activities were planned. The collaborative efforts designed by the Partnership range from trainings, public communications and program implementation, to the issuance of policy statements and educational offerings.