Data has consistently shown that people suffering from mental illness are more likely to smoke than people who do not, hence it is crucial that they are included in clinical trials related to smoking cessation. Sadly the opposite seems to be true. Titled, “Inequity in smoking cessation clinical trials testing pharmacotherapies: exclusion of smokers with mental health disorders,” the review aimed to examine the practice of excluding smokers with mental health disorders (MDHs) from such clinical trials and why.

The research team analyzed the Cochrane database of systematic reviews until September 2020 for reviews on smoking cessation using pharmacotherapies. “We included 279 RCTs from 13 Cochrane reviews. Of all studies, 51 (18.3%) explicitly excluded participants with any MHDs, 152 (54.5%) conditionally excluded based on certain MHD criteria and 76 (27.2%) provided insufficient information to ascertain either inclusion or exclusion. Studies of antidepressant medications used for smoking cessation were found to be 3.33 times more likely (95% CI 1.38 to 8.01, p=0.007) to conditionally exclude smokers with MHDs than explicitly exclude compared with studies of nicotine replacement therapy,” reported the researchers.

Indeed they concluded that smokers with MHDs are not sufficiently represented in clinical trials examining the safety and effectiveness of smoking cessation medications, yet not enough data was gathered as to why. The study highlighted the importance that trial participation for this minority group is facilitated.

Mental health patients find it harder to quit

Meanwhile, other studies have found that besides the fact that mental health patients are more likely to smoke than individuals who do not suffer from psychological or psychiatric conditions, these individuals are more likely to find it harder to quit. To this effect, they benefit greatly from having extra support in relation to smoking cessation and access to safer alternatives, that would at least lessen the chances of them also suffering from smoke-related conditions.

However, an article on the Psychiatrist Times discussing what mental health practitioners should keep in mind about vaping, says that risky components such as zinc, lead, chromium, manganese, and copper, have all been identified in various vaping products. Written by Dr. Catherine Striley, an associate professor and Director in psychiatric epidemiology at the University of Florida, the piece adds that while most ingredients found in e-liquids are safe to ingest, they may cause harm in the lungs and cardiovascular system.

UCLA Study: Switching From Cigarettes to Smokeless Tobacco Lowers Heart Disease Risk

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