Northern Kentucky Behavioral Health Planning Meeting

March 9, 2021 - 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm


As part of their KY TPCP CDC Behavioral Health Grant funding, Northern Kentucky Health Department supported a Northern Kentucky ASAP Policy and Advocacy Tobacco Group Training and Planning session on March 9, 2021 from 12-1:30 EST. In attendance were Karie Terhark and Angie Asa-Lovstad from HueLife  (Human Understanding and Engagement), Zim Okoli and Heather Robertson from BH WELL, and from the coalition: Breanna Williams, Lauri Gum, Tom Spicer, Kacie Dermon, Melissa Loyd, MJ Schneider, Camille Croweak, Elizabeth Valett, Amanda Changet, Julian Collins, Linda Bates, and Tyler Mullins. The presentation can be viewed on this event’s page.

Dr. Okoli discussed the importance of people recognizing tobacco treatment in the behavioral health population as normal. The tobacco companies have worked for years to target individuals living with mental illness, using psychology to market tobacco use as a way of coping and belonging while pocketing $37 billion from people living with mental illness who use tobacco products. Nicotine addiction is treatable in individuals living with mental and behavioral health challenges. While conventional methods of tobacco cessation do not work with this population, there are ways to tailor tobacco treatment so that it can be effective for individuals living with mental illness.

At the conclusion of the presentation, HueLife gave attendees the opportunity to share their thoughts. Here is what they had to say:

Main Takeaways

  • It is important to manage nicotine withdrawal.
  • The normative aspect. That tobacco treatment for the behavioral health population is normal.
  • The TRUTH video on how the tobacco industry has targeted people living with mental illness was eye-opening.
  • People living with mental illness who use tobacco die 5-25 years earlier than people not living with mental illness.
  • It was interesting to learn how there is a “law of attraction” between nicotine and the brain for some people living with mental illness.
  • I was shocked how some people living with mental illness started smoking while in a treatment center.
  • I teach Freedom From Smoking. It was good to learn that these types of programs don’t work with people living with mental illness but CAN work if tailored for the population.
  • I realized we are on the CUSP of action. We have created awareness and education. Now it is time for action.
  • Tobacco treatment in the behavioral health population is normal. And most want to quit. And can quit.
  • We need to approach this having a different “token economy” to offer instead of tobacco and nicotine.


  • Most people aren’t aware that tobacco companies have been targeting people living with mental and behavioral health challenges.
  • Tobacco companies are profiting $37 billion per year on this vulnerable population.
  • Tobacco use hinders mental health treatment and recovery.
  • Nicotine offers clarity at the cost of all the poisons.
  • People are dying earlier and I wonder if they even realize how much life they are losing.


  • People living with mental and behavioral health challenges want to quit and can quit.
  • There is hope because we are addressing this issue.
  • Treatment providers are willing to be part of this project. Some are here in this meeting today.
  • This coalition is a positive because we are addressing the need.
  • There is support to address these challenges and issues.
  • So many families are struggling to feed their families and pay their bills. Money going towards tobacco and nicotine use could be going toward other family needs.
  • Policy is important. Plus we have opportunity to help assure that beyond asking, assisting and arranging for further tobacco treatment support is occurring.