Health care and public health leaders gathered in Atlanta, Georgia on
October 13, 2016 to create a strategic plan that stretches beyond the common treatments and status quo of tackling health disparities. Decreasing the smoking rate among those with a behavioral health condition was the focus.
Currently, the behavioral health population--those with a mental illness and/or substance use disorder-- faces an extremely high smoking prevalence of 34%, more than double the national average. In addition, 10 to 25 years of life are lost due to smoking-related illnesses, such as lung and other cancers, heart disease, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Due to the importance of this public health disparity, the American Cancer Society (ACS), in collaboration with the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center (SCLC) at the University of California, San Francisco, hosted the first of its kind nation-wide summit to address this epidemic and focus in on this priority population.
At the ACS headquarters in Atlanta, experts and industry influencers from multiple sectors were invited to make actionable commitments and set an attainable yet bold target. The group established a goal to reduce smoking prevalence in the United States among persons with behavioral health conditions from
34% to 30% by the year 2020, dubbed "30 by 20". Along with goal setting, strategies were formed to achieve this target that included provider and peer education, tobacco control and cessation policies, health systems change, and research and data.
What would be the ideal outcome? Individual lives could be transformed and extended, and an estimated one million premature deaths and countless individuals suffering with smoking-related disabilities could be prevented.
The goals and strategies put in place at the summit are a starting point for building capacity and awareness in moving towards the set target. However, in order to achieve these goals and sustain efforts, organized and consistent communication to track progress and post-summit activities is crucial. Accordingly, members of ACS leadership (Rosie Henson, Cliff Douglas, Bidisha Sinha) and SCLC (Steven Schroeder, Catherine Saucedo, Christine Cheng, Roxana Said, Gil Lorenzo, Brian Clark) met in San Francisco last Friday to create a timeline and sustain momentum for the National Behavioral Health Summit for Tobacco-Free Recovery. ACS and SCLC have agreed to meet in-person on a quarterly basis to update on progress made and establish next steps. The intent is to establish a Round Table at ACS and catalyze a movement towards institutionalizing this initiative.
To learn more about the initiative and for more information on this summit, please access the
for the full action plan, participating organizations, and opportunities for collaboration.