Smoking rates significantly higher among mentally ill, report finds

ATLANTA - Smoking among adults with mental illnesses is 70% higher than among those without them, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC, collaborating with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, found that 36% of adults with a mental illness are cigarette smokers, compared with 21% of those without mental illnesses. Mental illnesses affect nearly one-in-five adults in the United States, according to the report, and among them, smoking prevalence is especially high among those in younger age groups, Native Americans and Alaska Natives, those living in poverty and those with lower levels of education. Differences were also found between states, with ranging from 18.2% of mentally ill adults in Utah to 48.7% of those in West Virginia.

"Smokers with mental illness, like other smokers, want to quit and can quit," CDC director Tom Frieden said. "Stop-smoking treatments work, and it's important to make them available to all people who want to quit."

The study, which combined data from the CDC and SAMHSA, found that smokers with mental illnesses smoked an average of 331 cigarettes per month, compared with 310 among those without mental illnesses.

"Special efforts are needed to raise awareness about the burden of smoking among people with mental illness and to monitor progress in addressing this disparity," SAMHSA administrator Pamela Hyde said.

SAMHSA and the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center have developed a portfolio of activities designed to promote tobacco cessation efforts in behavioral health care, including the 100 Pioneers for Smoking Cessation Campaign, which provides support for mental health centers and organizations in their smoking-cessation efforts.


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