The dangers of smoking: Mentally ill smoke three times more than national average

Sarah Spickernell
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Mentally ill people are much more likely to take up the habit (Source: Getty)

Smoking and mental illness are tightly linked, according to a report by Public Health England.

An estimated 64 per cent of mental health patients are addicted to tobacco, compared to 18.4 per cent of the general population.
On top of that, 30 per cent of the nation's smokers are thought to have some kind of psychiatric disorder, which is three times higher than the national average. The researchers say this is the main reason the lives of mentally ill people are usually between 10 and 20 years shorter.
Schizophrenia reduces average life expectancy in both men and women by 20.5 years and 16.4 years, respectively.
The statistics are based on a survey of 1,045 care units for mental health patients, and reveals how mentally sick patients are the only part of the population where smoking rate is not in decline.
Why the link? According to the report, it may well come down to boredom among those in mental care institutions: “Clear evidence shows that service users admitted to inpatient wards tend to adapt their smoking behaviour to routines and smoking breaks,” it says. For some, this means actually taking up smoking for the first time.

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