Cardinal Innovations Partners with QuitlineNC for Smoking Cessation
​​​​Smoking kills approximately 200,000 people with mental illness annually. In addition, an 11-year study showed that 51 percent of the deaths of addiction treatment patients were due to tobacco-related diseases. Quitting has immediate health benefits, can save lots of money and decreases anxiety.

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions launched a smoking cessation campaign called “Kick It” on Jan. 5 to help people with mental illness and substance use disorders quit smoking. 

Cardinal Innovations partnered with QuitlineNC, which provides free cessation services to any North Carolina resident who needs help quitting tobacco use. QuitlineNC started operations in North Carolina in 2005 and is jointly funded by the North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund (HWTF) and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). It offers a free 24-hour hotline to support people who are trying to quit and links them to quit coaches to talk them through kicking the habit, and quadrupling their chances of stopping. QuitlineNC has a 40 percent success rate of helping people to quit smoking. 

Cardinal Innovations’ smoking cessation campaign encourages individuals who want to quit smoking to try QuitlineNC. The campaign features an animated video listing reasons why individuals with a mental illness or substance use disorder should quit smoking. The campaign includes search engine marketing and webpages about the effect smoking has on various mental illness diagnoses. Each page links to QuitlineNC.com. The animated video is posted at cardinalinnovations.org/kickit.

“Cardinal Innovations created this campaign to help the people we serve quit smoking. This is important because smoking can vastly shorten the life of someone with mental illness and makes their treatment less effective,” said Dr. Craig Hummel, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer. “We wanted to help the people we serve and others find a tool to help them quit. QuitlineNC has a proven record of success.” 
Hummel said the smoking cessation campaign is exciting because it targets the people Cardinal Innovations serves. Anti-smoking campaigns have successfully targeted the general population, but overlooked individuals with mental illness and substance use disorders, he said. 
“The smoking percentage has gone down from about 45 percent to 17 percent for the general population, but for people with mental illness it’s actually still more than 50 percent,” he said. 

The health of a person who quits smoking immediately begins improving. Within 20 minutes of quitting, a former smoker’s heart rate drops. After 12 hours, the carbon monoxide levels in the blood return to normal and within three months the risk of heart attack decreases. The improvements to an individual’s health after quitting continue for years. Ten years after quitting, a former smoker is 50 percent less likely to die from lung cancer. Fifteen years after quitting, the risk of heart disease is the same as a nonsmoker. 

When someone quits smoking, it also saves money. A pack-a-day smoker, for example, would save about $25,000 over 15 years after quitting. 
“In the past, there’s been a myth that smoking decreases anxiety and helps people with mental illness get better, but that’s been debunked,” Hummel said, adding that he understands how difficult quitting can be. He also was a smoker, who quit 30 years ago. 

“Smoking is a hard thing to stop. It’s very hard. I don’t know anyone who smokes who wants to,” he said. “But people really should consider attempting to quit smoking.” 

The easiest way to quit, he said, is to use QuitlineNC. To learn more or to get started, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or go to cardinalinnovations.org/kickit​.