The Smoking Cessation Leadership Center (SCLC) established a National Center of Excellence for Tobacco-Free Recovery in the fall of 2018, after being awarded funding by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The Center of Excellence built on and expanded SAMHSA’s efforts to increase awareness, disseminate current research, educate behavioral health providers, and create results-oriented collaborations among stakeholder organizations in an effort to reduce tobacco use among individuals with behavioral health conditions (mental illness and/or substance use disorders).

SCLC and SAMHSA began their partnership in 2007 at the historic Lansdowne summit, which aimed to focus attention on behavioral health consumers (those with lived experience) and staff. Key issues and opportunities for smoking cessation and wellness in the mental health community were discussed at the summit, which led to the creation of the National Mental Health Partnership for Wellness and Smoking Cessation.

In 2008, SCLC sponsored an in-service training to create an overall smoking cessation initiative within SAMHSA and promote cessation to staff as well as educate the program officers on the importance of tobacco cessation and treatment in behavioral health. In 2009, SAMHSA and SCLC created and implemented a new initiative known as the 100 Pioneers. It was designed to stimulate field-driven activities to address nicotine addiction and bring smoking cessation services to communities and behavioral health clients and staff.

The partnership continued, with the execution of a second phase of the Pioneers initiative. The SAMHSA Leadership Academies for Wellness and Smoking Cessation was kicked off in 2010. To date, there are 24 states that have held planning summits to launch statewide partnerships among behavioral health providers, consumers, public health groups, and other stakeholders to create and implement an action plan to reduce smoking prevalence among behavioral health consumers and staff. Thanks to the continued support of SAMHSA, the National Center of Excellence for Tobacco-Free Recovery is now able to continue to offer these State Academy opportunities.

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