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Project tackling smoking among Victorians living with mental health conditions in the running for VicHealth Award

Posted 4 Nov, 2018

Quit Victoria and NorthWestern Mental Health (NWMH) are preparing for the 2018 VicHealth Awards tonight, after being chosen as a finalist for an award in the Preventing Tobacco Use category.

The finalist pick follows a successful few weeks for the “Tackling Tobacco Program”, with NWMH’s Tackling Tobacco Implementation Group being recognised for their contribution to supporting great care at the Melbourne Health Awards on the 23rd November.

Quit, NWMH and its other Tackling Tobacco partners, EACH and Orygen Youth Health, joined forces in 2016 to implement an organisational change framework that helps mental health services embed best practice smoking cessation care into their everyday support.

Quit’s Community and Programs Manager Rachel Whiffen said the initiative aims to tackle health inequities experienced by people living with mental health conditions.

“People living with a mental illness have a life expectancy up to 20 years less than the general population, with non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer being the main cause and smoking being a significant contributor to these poor health outcomes,” Ms Whiffen said.

“The Tackling Tobacco initiative helps to give every person the opportunity to become smokefree and achieve the improvements in mental, physical and financial health that quitting smoking provides.”

Since its implementation, the statewide initiative has reached more than 1000 people and 250 staff in mental health services.

NWMH’s Substance Use and Mental Illness Treatment Team Manager Shane Sweeney reflects on the success of the partnership in promoting a smokefree culture.

“The partnership between Quit Victoria and NWMH has been significant in the success of the Tackling Tobacco Project as we have benefited from pooled expertise, resources and power sharing.  We have worked together to achieve a common goal of addressing the health inequities experienced by people with a serious mental illness, and we have a mutual understanding of the value each organisation contributes to the project,” Mr Sweeney said.

With an ongoing commitment to support mental health services in their provision of smoking cessation care, Quit, NWMH, and its other Tackling Tobacco partners are grateful to be recognised for their contribution to preventing tobacco use.

To find out more about the initiative and the resources available, visit our Tackling Tobacco page.

Quit Victoria is a partnership between VicHealth, the State Government of Victoria and Cancer Council Victoria. For more information, visit:

NorthWestern Mental Health - Tackling Tobacco Implementation Group is part of Melbourne Health.  For more information, visit

Orygen Youth Health is part of the public mental health system in Melbourne and is closely connected with Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health. For more information, visit

EACH is community based organisation. For more information, visit

Media release

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