Smoking rates higher among the mentally ill

By JOHN KIRK VINCENT/Montana State News

More than a third of adults with some form of mental illness living in the United States are smokers.

A report co-authored by the Centers for Disease Control and Protection and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration highlights these findings at a time when tobacco use is under as much scrutiny as ever.

Roughly one in five adults—or 45.7 million—suffer from a mental illness.  Thirty-six percent of these people are current smokers.  In comparison, adults who are not affected by mental, behavioral or emotional disorders define only a 21 percent smoking rate.

These adults are at a higher risk of addiction, due to the mood-altering effects of nicotine in conjunction with various ailments.  Center Director Thomas Frieden urged the need for programs to put an end to at-risk smoking habits and said they are “not applied as they should be.”  On the national scale, mental illness is at least officially disconnected from cigarette use.

Figures on Montana’s mental illness smoking rates were unavailable, but the state is among the highest of nicotine users in the United States.  Some 21.9 percent of adults are smokers—young adults, Native Americans and those with lower education and income levels account for the majority.

The data was compiled between 2009 in 2011 through a number of national surveys completed by institutional residents and outpatients.  In this study, an adult is any person 18 and older, beginning with the legal smoking age.

– Edited by Autumn Toennis

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