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Smoking Accompanies Mental Illness

smokingA new report from Australia provides striking evidence that individuals with mental illness smoke at four times the rate of the general population.

The study notes that, despite a reduction in smoking by 50 percent among Australia’s general population, there has been little change in smoking rates among people with psychiatric disabilities.

Study author Kristen Moeller-Saxone from the University of Melbourne’s Melbourne School of Population Health, says smoking rates remain high even though three quarters of those involved in the study said they wanted to quit or cut down on cigarettes.

Ms Moeller-Saxone’s study surveyed 280 clients of a psychiatric support service — most of whom had schizophrenia — in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

It found that found that more than six in 10 (or 62 per cent) of those surveyed smoked, compared to fewer than two in 10 (16 per cent) members of the general population.

It also found that:

  • Smokers with mental illness consumed 50 per cent more cigarettes a day than the general population, averaging 22 cigarettes a day;
  • The heaviest smokers in the group smoked up to 80 cigarettes in a day;
  • Almost three in five (59 per cent) said they wanted to quit smoking;
  • Almost three quarters (74 per cent) said they wanted to cut down;
  • One in 10 (12 per cent) had successfully given up smoking; and
  • Smokers with mental illness were almost three times more likely to consume illegal tobacco.

Ms Moeller-Saxone said the study showed the need for specialist services to help people with mental illness stop smoking.

She said previous research by SANE Australia and ACCESS economics showed smoking among people with mental illness cost Australia more than $30 billion a year.

“Smoking compounds many of the health problems already experienced by people with mental illnesses,” she said. “Combined with drug therapies that often make them overweight, they are at even greater risk of diabetes, heart attacks and strokes if they smoke.

“The biggest cause of death among people with mental illness is not suicide, it is cardiovascular disease.”

Ms Moeller-Saxone said smoking also placed a big financial imposition on many people with mental illness, some of whom spent more than 20 per cent of their income on cigarettes.

However, governments had provided very little support for quit programs among the mentally ill.

“This is typified by the current Victorian Tobacco Control Strategy which doesn’t specifically recognise the mentally ill as a group to be specifically targeted,” she said.

“We really need to focus on people with mental illness as a specialist sub-group which needs tailored support rather than just including them with other socially disadvantaged groups.”

Ms Moeller-Saxone said her study also showed that helping people with mental illness to cut down, rather than quit straight away, may also be a good strategy for reducing smoking rates.

The study was published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

Source: University of Melbourne

Smoking Accompanies Mental Illness

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Smoking Accompanies Mental Illness. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 14, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2008/10/09/smoking-accompanies-mental-illness/3099.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.