Recent findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) show that as smoking rates decrease among the general public, smoking is a habit among more than two thirds of adults with a mental illness, which is approximately 70% higher than the general population.
Researchers also found that those with a mental illness typically started smoking at a younger age than smokers who do not have a mental illness. As well, those with a mental illness are more likely to be heavy smokers and have more difficulty quitting.
Data was used from a SAMHSA survey completed between 2009 and 2011 of 138,000 adults. The survey consisted of at home interviews where participants answered 14 questions to assess disability and psychological distress. Researchers analyzed a representative sample of 67,000 Americans ages 12 and older. Those who had a developmental disorder or a substance abuse problem, as well as those in a psychiatric hospital or serving in the military were not included in the report.
Researchers assessed if the participant had a psychiatric illness based on the answers to their questions, and not based on a psychiatric diagnosis. The CDC reported that approximately 21% of adults without a mental illness smoked, compared to 36% of adults with a mental disorder.
Researchers said that contrary to beliefs, many people with mental illness want to quit smoking. The CDC said the study shows that there needs to be more smoking-cessation programs available to help people quit.
It was also noted by the CDC that implementations, such as additional counseling, longer cessation programs, an increase in tobacco-free policies at mental health campuses, as well as smoking cessation programs at mental health facilities would all help lower the smoking rates of those living with a mental illness.
According to the CDC, tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease. Approximately 46 million American adults or one in five people are living with a mental illness.