Reducing Tobacco-Related Health Disparities among Individuals with Psychiatric and Substance Use Disorders: Opportunities for Social Work
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While there has been a significant reduction in the general incidence and prevalence of smoking and smoking-related problems, these gains have not been observed in individuals with mental health problems. In spite of a number of improvements in the content, promotion, availability, and delivery of smoking cessation programs, people with mental illness continue to smoke at high rates and experience negative health consequences. Social workers are strategically located within the mental health and healthcare delivery systems, and can play an important role in reducing smoking-related health disparities among individuals with these challenges. Here, we present the epidemiology of smoking and related health problems among individuals with psychiatric and substance use disorders, and provide recommendations regarding the potential contributions of social workers toward decreasing smoking-related health disparities in this population.