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Smoking, Addiction & Mental Health Conditions – We Need You!

May is Mental Health Awareness month. To mark this vital promotion of knowledge and curiosity about mental health CASAA is opening an ongoing forum and dialogue among members to shed light on the connections between combustible tobacco use and substance use and mental health challenges. We want to hear your experiences and interest in this topic.

How you can get involved:
  • Share your video and written testimonials with CASAA (details below)
  • Become a THR Ambassador in your community
  • Read articles featured on from experts in the substance use and mental health fields
  • Check out the Tobacco Harm Reduction Research Project

We know that as smoking has declined in the U.S. it has concentrated among persons of lower socio-economic status and people with behavioral health challenges. Even the more conservative estimates indicate that the rate of smoking among persons with behavioral health challenges (e.g., anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia and substance use) is two to three times the rate of the general population. It has also been estimated that over 40% of all cigarettes smoked in the U.S. are consumed by individuals with behavioral health challenges1.

The most harmful implication of this connection is that people with mental health conditions who also smoke suffer the greatest adverse health consequences such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory illnesses, cancers, and premature death. It is often noted that the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous died of tobacco related causes and not alcohol.

While awareness of the harms of smoking are similar for people in these communities and the general population, motivation to quit is remarkably lower2. Given the vulnerability in this population, we are eager to hear your thoughts about this issue. 

Going forward, CASAA will post articles, perspectives, research, and activities related to mental health and smoking. Most importantly, we want to hear your experiences. For those who are simply interested in the topic or may in fact want to play a role, please email Kristin at

How to Share your Video Testimonial

  • Record a 2-3 minute video using your phone or computer webcam
  • If using your phone, please turn it sideways when recording so your video orientation is landscape (wide)
  • What are the challenges you face related to a mental health condition?
  • Did you smoke, how much, and why do you think you started?
  • How many, if any, quit attempts did you make and what challenges did you face when attempting to quit smoking?

Please email your videos to

Send Us your Written Testimonial

  • Points to include in your testimonial
    • What are the challenges you face related to a mental health condition and/or substance use issue?
    • Did you smoke, how much, and did it help alleviate symptoms or make daily life more manageable?
  • If you’d like, please include a photo of yourself
    • Use a high quality/resolution photo you’ve taken with your phone or camera, rather than one downloaded from social media
    • Make sure you are the only person in the photo
    • Please just show us your face, not you vaping or any products 🙂

Please email your files to

1 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Adults With Mental Illness Or Substance Use Disorder Account For 40 Percent Of All Cigarettes Smoked (2009 To 2011 NSDUH).” Data Review, April 18, 2014.

2 Twyman, Laura, et al. “Perceived Barriers to Smoking Cessation in Selected Vulnerable Groups: A Systematic Review of the Qualitative and Quantitative Literature.” BMJ Open, vol. 4, no. 12, 22 Dec. 2014, doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-006414.