Populations of Focus

Populations of Focus

While Vermont has made great progress curbing the negative impacts of tobacco and nicotine use, we have a long way to go, especially among Vermont’s most underserved or marginalized individuals or groups.

As national and state data show, certain populations have higher rates of tobacco use, which translates to poorer health outcomes and quality of life. More specifically, social determinants of health lead to some being marginalized. In turn, that creates more stress and inequities when it comes to jobs, housing and feelings of safety and security, which can lead to risk behaviors, such as tobacco use. To learn more, visit the State Health Improvement Plan, which includes action plans for reducing tobacco use among the populations listed below.

How We’re Supporting Adults with Mental Health and Substance Misuse Disorders

What the Research Shows:

According to the 2019 BRFSS, 26% of Vermonters with depression smoked. Individuals with mental health or substance misuse disorders are often overlooked for quit support, in part because smoking is accepted as a crutch or coping tool.

Smoking and tobacco use actually acts as a trigger for continuing or relapsing in use of other substances. Studies show that there are considerable benefits to treating tobacco addiction at the same time as mental health and substance misuse disorders.

What We’re Doing:

To promote wellness and reduce tobacco-related illness in behavioral health and substance misuse disorder facilities, we are working with many groups to increase screening, treatment and cessation of tobacco use by clients.

Current efforts include:

  1. Convening a workgroup of granted partners and others that will meet quarterly to discuss updates, progress and shared goals
  2. Communicating on the need to reduce tobacco-associated health inequities experienced by Vermonters with mental health and substance misuse disorders
  3. Collecting and using data to monitor progress and share results
How We’re Supporting Indigenous Peoples

The Tobacco Burden of Indigenous Peoples:

In Vermont, smoking rates among Indigenous Peoples are among the highest in the state at 41%. Additionally, data in the Vermont State Health Assessment 2018 show that this population of Vermonters has the highest percentage rate of adults who report poor physical and mental health.

What We’re Doing:

The Health Department is committed to building and maintaining partnerships and policies that support the health and wellness of Vermont’s Abenaki and Wabanaki people, and all other Indigenous Peoples who are a part of our state.

This is done through the following efforts:

  • Providing culturally sensitive, tailored commercial tobacco cessation support through the American Indian Commercial Tobacco Program
  • Collaboration with the Agency of Human Services and Abenaki Equity Workgroup
  • Participating in education and training to adopt the knowledge and tools needed to maintain an equitable relationship with all Indigenous People in Vermont
  • Ensuring this group receives equitable access to (and education about) health services
  • Promoting community events and resources that celebrate and acknowledge the struggles of Indigenous People
  • Honoring Indigenous Peoples’ Day each October 11
How We’re Supporting LGBTQ* Vermonters

The Tobacco Burden of LGBTQ Vermonters:

High use and chronic disease disparities from tobacco have been seen among the LGBTQ community.

What We’re Doing:

To help Vermonters who identify as LGBTQ reduce and quit using tobacco, we partner with the Pride Center of Vermont, Outright Vermont and the LGBT Health Link to raise awareness through the following efforts:

  • Walking in the Pride Parade to show support for this group of Vermonters
  • Creating an LGBTQ quit group that provides peer support with a trained Pride Center staff person
  • Working with Outright Vermont to provide trainings to peers, allies and communities

*Please note that BRFSS only uses “LGBT” in the survey, but we recognize that term is no longer fully representative or encompassing of all gender identities.  

How We’re Supporting Low-Income, Medicaid-Insured & Uninsured Adults

What the Research Shows:

As of 2019, 29% of low-income adult Vermonters (those living at or below the 250% of the federal poverty level) are significantly more likely to use tobacco than adults of higher income. Evidence shows that low-income smokers have a strong desire to quit, but need more help to succeed.

Adult Vermonters insured by Medicaid have an especially high smoking rate (32%) compared to adults insured through private health insurance (10%).

What We’re Doing:

802Quits offers gift card incentives—up to $150—to promote quit attempts among Vermont Medicaid members. And, in partnership with the Department of Vermont Health Access, we are working to connect Medicaid-insured adults with health care professionals who can increase the quit support they receive. This is done through the Medicaid Tobacco Benefit and Promotion Initiative, which aims to:

  1. Identify and address barriers to using quit services, like 802Quits and professional counseling
  2. Promote the state’s quit services to community and clinical providers working with this population
How We’re Supporting Vermonters through Pregnancy

What the Research Shows:

Pregnant Vermonters are more likely to quit tobacco when they are 1) educated on the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke while pregnant and 2) receive personalized coaching and incentives to quit.

What We’re Doing:

Vermont’s Quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW) offers special support and rewards to pregnant Vermonters via:

  1. A special phone-based program to support new and expecting parents to quit cigarettes, e-cigarettes or other tobacco products
  2. Text messaging support
  3. A customized quit plan
  4. Free Nicotine Replacement Therapy with a doctor’s prescription
  5. A $20 or $30 gift card for each completed call with a trained coach (up to $250)
  6. Learn more about this offering
How We’re Supporting People with Disabilities

The Tobacco Burden of People with Disabilities:

Vermonters with disabilities use tobacco at a higher rate than other groups and are less likely to be successful at quitting.

What We’re Doing:

Current efforts include:

  1. We are collaborating with Vermont’s Department of Aging, Disabilities and Independent Living, (DAIL), to promote tobacco-related policies that reduce exposure to secondhand smoke and triggers to smoke.
  2. A member of our program also sits on a national workgroup, run by the North American Quitline Consortium, to discuss and improve the accessibility of quitlines.
How We’re Supporting Youth & Young Adults

The Tobacco Burden of Youth and Young Adults:

Vermont youth are particularly at risk for using tobacco and nicotine, especially e-cigarettes or vapes.

What We’re Doing:

CounterBalance: Our CounterBalance initiative sheds light on the tobacco and vaping industry’s negative influence on youth. Its goals include:

  • Raising awareness of the harms of vaping on adolescent brain development, mood, learning and attention to reduce youth tobacco use
  • Encouraging governmental action to reduce the number and placement of tobacco licenses in communities
  • Exposing the tobacco industry’s strategies that make smoking and vaping attractive to young people, including media and local store advertising, price discounts, flavored products and selling close to schools

Unhyped: Our Unhyped campaign educates youth on the dangers of vaping and nicotine addiction.

My Life, My Quit: We also offer cessation support through My Life, My Quit. This free and confidential texting program, developed by a leading respiratory hospital, helps young Vermonters ages 12-17 quit all forms of smoking or vaping. Text "Start My Quit" to 36072 or visit the website to chat with a trained coach.

802Quits: Visit How Vermont is Helping Teens Quit Vaping - 802Quits to learn more about nicotine addiction and free quit services for your child.