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New Study on Mental Illness and Cigarette Use

40% of smokers in the U.S. have been diagnosed with mental illness

Taking a drag or just a quick smoke break could be hazardous.

According to recent data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, cigarette use continues to be the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S.

“We have a tendency sometimes to not think of it as being as dangerous as things like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, when in reality it kills more people than any illicit drug,” says treatment coordinator for the Northeast Delta Human Services Authority, Jean Hartzog.

In West Monroe, a tobacco summit was held as different groups gathered to search for new ways to end the addicting habit.

“We are an area that has a lot of need for this sort of thing, and it’s good to see all of these people coming together,” says cardiologist, Mark Napolli.

Organizers share important facts, saying 40% of smokers in the U.S. have been diagnosed with mental illness.

“Individuals with mental health difficulties die on the average, 25 years earlier than the general population, that’s a lot of years to give up,” says Hartzog.

E-cigs seem to be the popular alternative for smoking cigarettes, but specialists agree there has not been enough research to determine the dangers of this device. However, they do comment on the dangers of nicotine.

“The main active ingredient in the e cigarettes and the vaping is nicotine, and that is the same chemical that is in tobacco which is addicting and which can cause a lot of vascular complications as well as brain development impairment in younger people, says Napolli.

Organizers say, they hope to improve tobacco treatment through policy change and coalition building.

They leave one simple message for residents.

“76% of Louisianians don’t smoke, and you need to join them,” says Hartzog.

Whether it’s in treatment facilities, in the work place, or at home, organizers encourage everyone to stomp the habit for good.

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