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Smoke Signals: It’s Time To Quit

Dealing with a mental health condition can be stressful. Challenges can include multiple diagnoses, drug trials, long days at the doctor’s office, or shortage of psychiatric beds for a needed inpatient stay. Sometimes these strains can lead to smoking. In fact, the rate of tobacco use among young people with a substance use disorder or mental health condition is 94% higher than among adults without these health issues (1). While the U.S. rates of smoking have gone down (15% since 2015 according to government statistics), those living with a mental illness or substance use disorder tend to smoke over a third of all cigarettes in the U.S. (2)

Why is this happening?
Nathaniel P. Morris, a psychiatric resident physician at Stanford University School of Medicine, says, “I have met plenty of patients who tell me that tobacco helps distract them from depression, paranoia, auditory hallucinations or other psychiatric symptoms” (2). Unfortunately, big tobacco companies know this information and will target those with mental health conditions. According to researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, documents obtained by litigation against tobacco companies reveal that the industry sponsored a great deal of research behind the so-called “self-medication hypothesis” (2).

Even with the negative forces at work, a 2011 survey of over 500 current smokers with bipolar disorder found 74% reported a desire to quit (2). There is motivation to get better; sometimes we just need a nudge in the right direction and support from those who care.

Why am I talking about this?
Starting January 1, the Nebraska Tobacco Quitline is providing free nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) for those who want to make a clean break from smoking this year. The Quitline, at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669), also offers free access to counseling and support services 24/7 to help in your smoke-free journey. If you are living in Nebraska, over the age of 18, and ready to quit tobacco, you could be eligible for free over-the-counter NRT. Make sure you call as soon as you can to receive this free offer while supplies last. For more information, visit




Janae Shillito, Project Coordinator, The Kim Foundation
Janae Shillito is the newest edition to The Kim Foundation and serves as Project Coordinator. She holds two science degrees with her alma maters including the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Janae’s love of volunteering and helping those without a voice created a strong desire to become a part of the non-profit world. She enjoys instructing kickboxing classes, reading a good book, and being outside with her husband, Cory, and Rottweiler, Hank.