Tobacco Fast Facts

  • Smoking leads to disease and disability and harms nearly every organ of the body.7
  • Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. It is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the U.S., including more than 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure.7
  • Adults with mental illness and/or substance use disorder are disproportionately at risk for premature mortality from tobacco use because a high percentage of these individuals smoke.8

Tobacco Myths vs. Truths

Tobacco is not as harmful as other substances.
Tobacco is an addictive substance and causes more deaths than alcohol, drug induced and suicide deaths combined.
People with mental illness are not interested in quitting their tobacco use.
People with mental illness are highly motivated to quit and can do so without aggravating psychiatric symptoms if provided appropriate support.
Quitting tobacco interferes with recovery from mental illness or addictions.
Tobacco treatment during addictions treatment is associated with a 25% increased likelihood of long-term abstinence from alcohol and illicit drugs.
Tobacco is necessary for self-medication and tobacco cessation would be too stressful.
Smoking is a predictor of great problem severity and poorer treatment responses in individuals undergoing outpatient substance use treatment.
Smoking is the lowest priority concern for patients with acute psychiatric symptoms.
Patients with psychiatric disorders are far more likely to die from tobacco-related diseases than from mental illness.
People with an addiction or mental health disorder cannot quit smoking.
Research shows that smokers with an addiction or mental health disorder have documented success in tobacco recovery.

In 2016, Indiana had the 10th highest smoking rate in the U.S., with more than one in five Hoosier adults who smoke.

Number of Deaths by Drug Overdose and Smoking, Indiana Residents (Annual)

  • Total Drug Overdoses (1,518)
  • Total Deaths from Smoking (11,100)
  • Premature Deaths from Secondhand Smoke Exposure (1,400)

Each year, more than 11,000 people in Indiana die prematurely from cigarette smoking, and more than 1,400 die prematurely from exposure to secondhand smoke.

Tobacco Industry Marketing and Influence

The tobacco industry has used multiple strategies to market cigarettes to populations with mental illnesses, including:

  • Developing relationships with and making financial contributions to organizations that work with mentally ill patients.10
  • Funding research to foster the myth that cessation would be too stressful because persons with mental illness use nicotine to alleviate negative mood (i.e. self-medicate).11
  • Providing free or cheap cigarettes to psychiatric facilities.10
  • Supporting efforts to block smoke free psychiatric hospital policies.10
  • Creating marketing plans that target marginalized populations, including mentally ill, homeless, and LGBT individuals. One example is “Project SCUM” (Sub Culture Urban Marketing), which was implemented in San Francisco in the mid-1990s.9