Kick tobacco for mental health benefits

Carol-McGruder, Kick tobacco for mental health benefits, Culture Currents
Carol McGruder

by Carol McGruder, African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council

It’s that time of the year again. During the holiday season, people will start to make their 2022 resolutions – and try to stick to them. While many might wait until New Year’s Day to start this process, there’s absolutely no harm in getting a head start. 

As co-founder of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council with decades of experience, I know there are many reasons why people need to stop smoking and vaping. But besides the obvious harmful physical effects, smoking is also bad for your mental health. 

Many people who smoke think it relieves stress. Unfortunately, nicotine in tobacco products or vapes can lead to increased stress, anxiety, irritability and impulsivity, and quitting smoking can improve your mental health and well-being. The holidays can be especially chaotic, so taking care of your mental and physical health this time of year is more important than ever. 

While it might be easy to reach for that cigarette, know there is a better way to manage stress and kick the habit. Kick It California, formerly the California Smokers’ Helpline, has been helping people quit using tobacco products for more than 30 years. With more than half of the people who reach out to Kick It reporting having at least one mental health issue, Kick Its comprehensive program focuses on behavior change methods that help adjust thinking and build confidence to make new, healthier habits stick. Three decades of research and results shows that people succeed when they have access to personalized programs and support like Kick It.

nicotine in tobacco products or vapes can lead to increased stress, anxiety, irritability and impulsivity

If you are quit-curious, quit-ready or just need a little push to move forward, now is the time, and Kick It California is here to help. They will meet you where you are in your process. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. 

Kick It California’s new mobile friendly website, one-on-one coaching, enhanced tools, and proven methods are available to all Californians. And they’re shown to double a tobacco user’s chance of quitting.

I know it takes a village, a support system, to quit tobacco. I also know that it will take many attempts, but the point is to keep trying. So rather than viewing relapse as a failure, people who smoke and their loved ones need to understand that it is part of the process. Or as Donnie McClurkin told us, “We fall down but we get up!” And participating in Kick It California is one big step to help you eventually get up and stay up! 

I encourage everyone who uses tobacco products to make it their resolution to quit tobacco and do it sooner rather than later. With lung health so important these days, if there was ever a time to quit tobacco, it’s now. 

The resources are free and within your grasp. Our community needs you healthy and strong. You can start your journey to a smoke free life today by visiting, texting “Quit Smoking” to 66819 or calling 1-800-300-8086. Happy New You!

Carol McGruder, co-founder and co-chair of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council and award-winning advocate, can be reached at