The Link Between Smoking and Mental Illness

A recent web symposium from the Geographic Health Equity Alliance’s Smoking Cessation Leadership Center highlighted the association between cigarette smoking and mental illness. The most important message was that smokers with mental illness are becoming a sizeable percentage of those who continue to smoke in the United States, even as rates among the general population are decreasing.

Among the highlights from the discussion:

  • More than one in three adults (36 percent) with some mental illness smoke cigarettes, compared with about one in five adults (21 percent) with no mental illness
  • About three of every 10 cigarettes (31 percent) smoked by adults are smoked by adults with mental illness
  • Smoking-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, lung disease and cancer are among the most common causes of death among adults with mental health conditions

The panel of experts, which included individuals from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, offered suggestions for communities to consider:

  1. Challenge the perception that smoking helps to relieve anxiety and depression.
  2. Inform smokers about the mental health benefits associated with quitting.
  3. Increase awareness of high smoking rates among those with mental health conditions.
  4. Provide factual information about smoking cessation.

Learn more about the symposium and CADCA’s Geographic Health Equity Alliance.

See Also: CADCA’s online course, Tobacco Prevention for Coalitions