Smoking Prevalence is Much Higher Among People with a Mental Illness

The latest Vital Signs from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention notes that many adults with mental illness who smoke want to quit, can quit, and will benefit from proven stop-smoking treatments.

It’s true that some people with mental illness face issues that can make it more challenging to quit, such as low income, stressful living conditions, and lack of access to health insurance and health care. All of these factors make it more challenging to quit. But that doesn’t mean that smokers with mental illness can’t benefit from the same proven treatments as anyone else, the report explains.

Nationally, nearly 1 in 5 adults (or 45.7 million adults) have some form of mental illness, and 36 percent of these people smoke cigarettes. In comparison, 21 percent of adults without mental illness smoke cigarettes. (Mental illness is defined here as diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional conditions and does not include developmental and substance use disorders.)

There are other troubling statistics from the report:

  • 31 percent of all cigarettes are smoked by adults with mental illness.
  • 40 percent of men and 34 percent of women with mental illness smoke.
  • 48 percent of people with mental illness who live below the poverty level smoke, compared with 33 percent of those with mental illness who live above the poverty level.