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Methods: Mind the Gap

Webinar Series

Helping Smokers With Behavioral Health Comorbidity Requires a National Effort

April 16, 2013
Jill Marie Williams, M.D.

Professor of Psychiatry and Director Division of Addiction Psychiatry
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

View the Seminar

About the Seminar

Dr. Williams discusses the fact that although public health interventions have led to lower smoking rates in the United States over the last 40 years, smokers with mental illness or an addiction other than smoking have benefited less from these efforts. At this time, little is being done nationally at the mental health or public health systems level to promote smoking cessation in this population. She also talks about how little is known about smokers with mental illness or an addictive behavior because of the lack of critical information on their tobacco use patterns and trends, as well as on the effects of tobacco control measures such as excise taxes, advertising, or clean indoor air laws on this population.

Dr. Williams discusses how smokers with behavioral health comorbidity are not listed as a disparity group or priority population by most national public health or tobacco control groups, although they fulfill the criteria commonly used to designate other groups (e.g., targeted marketing by the tobacco industry, greater smoking prevalence rates, increased economic and health burden from tobacco, less access to treatment services, and longer durations of smoking with less cessation). Designating them a priority group will bring much needed attention and resources. The disparity between smoking rates in the behavioral health population compared with the general population will worsen over time if their needs remain unaddressed.

About Jill M. Williams

Dr. Williams is Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Division of Addiction Psychiatry at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick. She also holds faculty appointments at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey and is affiliated with the UMDNJ-Tobacco Dependence Program and Rutgers Center for Alcohol Studies. She received her medical degree from UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Piscataway and completed her residency training at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. Dr. Williams also completed a fellowship in addiction psychiatry at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

The focus of Dr. Williams’s work has been in addressing tobacco in individuals with mental illness. She is a member of the Association for the Treatment of Tobacco Use and Dependence, the American Psychiatric Association, the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, and the American Association of Community Psychiatrists. The CHOICES Program (Consumers Helping Others Improve Their Condition by Ending Smoking), which she cofounded, has won numerous awards for innovative programming. Dr. Williams has developed training curricula for behavioral health professionals and manualized treatments for treating tobacco in mental health settings.

Dr. Williams has received research funding from sources including the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute of Mental Health, and American Legacy Foundation. Her publications have appeared in numerous journals including Nicotine and Tobacco Research, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.

Last updated on February 11, 2019