Dear Mayor Roe and City Council Members:
On behalf of NAMI Ramsey (National Alliance on Mental Illness), I am contacting you in strong support of your proposed ordinance on flavored tobacco. The NAMI Ramsey board believes that since flavored-tobacco encourages some people to smoke, banning it will help many people, including people with mental illnesses.
People with a mental illness have a high rate of smoking and once they begin they have a harder time quitting. According to NAMI, in America, 44.3% of all cigarettes are consumed by individuals who live with mental illnesses and/or substance abuse disorders. People with schizophrenia are three to four times as likely to smoke as the general population.
Smoking is known to cause heart disease, stroke and lung disease, among other medical problems. Many antipsychotic medications cause an increased risk of heart disease, so it's important that individuals living with a mental illness quit smoking.
Every year, smoking kills about 200,000 people who live with mental illnesses. Also, smoking increases the breakdown of medicines in the body, so smokers often need to take higher doses to get the same results as someone who does not smoke. If a smoker quits, they can usually get the same treatment results from lower doses of psychiatric medications.
We recognize that cigarette and tobacco use is a dangerous form of addiction that creates more significant health problems. People with mental illnesses have the right to be smoke free and they must be given the education and support to make healthy choices. This includes not being tempted to begin smoking in the first place through flavored tobacco.
Thank you for working on this important ordinance. NAMI Ramsey also sees it as a housing issue. Most apartments are non-smoking, and we don’t want to see people with a mental illness evicted due to smoking in their apartments.
NAMI Ramsey County President
Author: NAMI ramsey president mindy greiling
With editing help from the NAMI Ramsey County board.