An Ignored Group of Smokers: People With Mental Illness

A new report shows the smoking cessation needs of people with mental disorders have been overlooked.

Closeup of cigarette in hand
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[Read: 12 Reasons to Really Quit Smoking.]

Increase Medicaid reimbursement of tobacco control services. At least 11 percent of Medicaid, or $22 billion, is spent on medical illnesses related to tobacco. Still, Willett says, in the past the government has not invested in continuous treatment to help people quit smoking, whether through nicotine patches, gum or medication. This may shift in some states under the Affordable Care Act, in which smoking cessation treatment for low-income parents and their children is covered by Medicaid and private health plans. Most people who smoke want to quit, Willett says, and at least half have tried during the past year and been unsuccessful. "We're not taking away a privilege, but supporting smokers who want to quit," he says.

[Read E-Cigarette Use Doubles Among Young People.]