Healthy Air

Behavioral Health Partnership Supports Quitline Sustainability  

Since 2014, Well-Ahead Louisiana and the Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) have partnered to take steps in addressing tobacco use in the behavioral health population. In order to enhance data collection of smokers with behavioral health conditions, the Louisiana Quitline began asking callers if they suffered from any mental illnesses, such as an anxiety disorder, depression disorder, bipolar disorder, alcohol/drug abuse, or schizophrenia. The data from the July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016 showed 42.7% of callers to the Louisiana Quitline have at least one mental health or substance use disorder.

With partners from the Louisiana Tobacco Coalition, Well-Ahead developed a partnership plan that focuses on enhancing referrals to, funding for, and reimbursement of Louisiana Quitline services. As part of this plan, our team prepared a funding proposal for OBH that included the data of Quitline callers who indicated they suffered from any mental illness. With 42.7% of callers reporting at least one behavioral health condition, the program was able to equate the cost of services to the population and request a reasonable amount of OBH’s tobacco tax funding to support the Quitline.  The proposal was accepted and the state’s Quitline services were sustained without a break in coverage. A memorandum of understanding between the two agencies has been developed so that the Louisiana Quitline can be sustained through this partnership in following years.

Through leveraging statewide partnerships, Well-Ahead and OBH aligned program priorities to sustain Quitline resources and cessation services to Louisiana residents. Increasing the availability and accessibility of the Quitline ensures that a basic level of quitline service is in place to support national and state interventions likely to increase interest in quitting and calls to the quitline. This collaborative work between agencies can aid in fostering other opportunities to increase promotion and expand the level of service among populations affected by tobacco-related disparities.

Did You Know?

  • Persons living with mental illness or a substance use disorder account for 25% of the adult population, but they consumed 40% of cigarettes sold in the United States.
  • Nationally, more than 1 in 3 adults (36 %) with a mental illness smoke cigarettes, compared to about 1 in 5 adults (21%) with no mental illness.
  • Persons with a mental or substance use disorder die, on average, 5 years prematurely than persons without these disorders; many of these deaths are caused by smoking cigarettes.

Moving Louisiana’s Health Forward

One way to support community level changes for persons living with mental health and substance use disorders is to make changes in the way we look at smoking in the behavioral health population. The best ways to respond are to adopt, implement, and enforce tobacco-free policies. It is also helpful to revisit and or include processes to treat tobacco dependence. These processes can include integrating screening for tobacco use and using combination therapy to treat tobacco dependence (ex. pharmacotherapy and brief behavioral interventions).

Are you passionate about tobacco prevention and cessation? Partner with us to move Louisiana’s health forward! Email to learn more.  Together, we can move Louisiana’s health forward!


Healthy Air Starts Here: The Louisiana Tobacco Coalition

In 2015, the Well-Ahead Louisiana Healthy Air team was tasked with creating a five-year strategic plan for tobacco control.  Through a series of five meetings,  our team began the strategic planning process for what has evolved into the Louisiana Tobacco Coalition.  We worked with national, state, and regional organizations to create the plan. These partners each play a critical role in contributing experience, expertise and local knowledge to tobacco control. In March 2016, the Coalition finalized the plan.  It included the six goals below:

  1. Prevent the Initiation of Tobacco Use Among Young People
  2. Eliminate Exposure to Secondhand Smoke
  3. Promote Quitting Among Adults and Young People
  4. Eliminate Disparities Related to Tobacco Use
  5. Statewide Coordination and Evaluation/Surveillance
  6. Coordinated Communication

These are key components that successfully combat the issue of tobacco use.  To ensure execution of the Strategic Plan, the Coalition holds quarterly calls.  During these calls, partners provide updates of the plan’s activities.  
In addition, a Sustainability Team was formed within the Coalition.  Over the last year, this team has worked to ensure further coordination between partners. Last summer, a survey was circulated to assess partner needs.  Survey results showed that ongoing efforts should support: aligning organizational resources, understanding priority populations, and promoting long-term systemic and policy changes.


In May, the Well-Ahead Healthy Air team hosted an in-person Coalition meeting to review the work of Year One and to plan for work in Year Two.  The Coalition is excited to release its first Annual Report later this year. Special thanks to our tobacco partners.  We appreciate your continuous coordination, engagement and commitment to tobacco control in Louisiana.  To learn more about the work the Louisiana Tobacco Coalition’s Strategic Plan, click here.


  • Despite recent national declines in tobacco use, it remains the leading cause of preventable death in United States.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2015, cigarette use in Louisiana was 21.9% among adults (18 years and older), higher than the reported national average of 15.1%.
  • In Louisiana, 13.2% of middle school students and 27.6% of high school students use tobacco (YRBS 2015).  


The Louisiana Tobacco Coalition supports a statewide coordinated approach to tobacco control in Louisiana. With its partners, Well-Ahead Louisiana’s Tobacco Control Program continues to provide resources and data needed to combat tobacco use in Louisiana. As a result, we expect to see continued increases in availability and accessibility to tobacco cessation resources statewide, and a decrease in tobacco initiation rates.  This will ultimately lead to a decrease in tobacco use over time.


Are you passionate about tobacco control? Join the Louisiana Tobacco Coalition to move Louisiana’s health forward! Email to learn more.  Together, we can ensure that Louisiana residents have access to tobacco cessation services and can breathe air free from tobacco smoke.