People with mental health issues are more prone to nicotine addiction, and tend to smoke more heavily than the general population.
Smoking cessation is particularly critical for individuals with mental health conditions, as they are more likely to smoke and face greater health risks. Studies have consistently shown that people with mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia, are more prone to nicotine addiction and tend to smoke more heavily than the general population. Consequently, they suffer disproportionately from smoking-related diseases.

Research indicates that smoking cessation can significantly improve both physical and mental health outcomes for these individuals. A study published in the BMJ found that quitting smoking is associated with reduced anxiety, depression, and stress, and an overall improvement in psychological quality of life compared with continued smoking. Similarly, a meta-analysis in The Lancet Psychiatry revealed that smokers with mental health conditions who quit smoking experienced a significant reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety, similar to or greater than those observed with antidepressant treatments.

A study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine had suggested that combining nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) with tailored psychological support significantly increased cessation rates among individuals with mental health conditions. However, a more recent study, found that actually, the use of safer nicotine alternatives, namely vapes, was more effective than NRT use at achieving this goal.

The same smoking cessation aids are effective on people with or without mental health issues

Published in PLOS Mental Health, and conducted by Sarah Jackson and colleagues from University College London and King’s College London, the study investigated the effectiveness of smoking cessation aids in individuals with and without a history of mental health conditions.

Over 5,000 regular smokers who had attempted to quit within the past year, were surveyed. About 45% of the participants reported having a diagnosed mental health condition, consistent with previous studies showing higher smoking rates and addiction levels in this group compared to those without mental health issues.

Participants used a wide range of cessation aids, with the most common being non-combustible nicotine products like e-cigarettes. Vaping products were used by 39% of individuals with mental health conditions and 31% of those without. Other popular aids included over-the-counter nicotine replacements, such as lozenges and patches. Less than 5% of participants used prescription medications or behavioural interventions.

Once again, vapes found to be the most effective cessation aides

The study found that smoking cessation aids were equally effective for people with and without mental health conditions, with the most effective aids identified as vapes. In line with previous studies, the results indicated that the next most effective aids were the prescription drug varenicline, and heated tobacco products.

The results also indicated that individuals with mental health conditions were more likely to use vaping products, prescription nicotine replacement therapy, and self-help websites compared to those without such conditions. Interestingly, the study showed no evidence that mental health conditions impacted the effectiveness of any smoking cessation methods.

In fact, the study indicated that people with mental health conditions can choose smoking cessation aids with the same expectation of success as those without mental health issues. This is crucial for healthcare providers to note, as it helps in making informed decisions and providing reassurance to smokers with mental health conditions about their chances of quitting successfully.

In line with previous research, the current study reiterated that the effectivity of certain smoking cessation aids such as vapes, and their subsequent preference over others is undeniable, irrespective of mental health history. These findings are significant for public health, suggesting that the same cessation strategies can be employed across diverse populations, and ensuring that all individuals, regardless of mental health status, have equal opportunities to successfully quit smoking. Such findings could and should guide healthcare workers in recommending the cessation aids to support those seeking to quit smoking, promoting better health outcomes across different demographics.

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Bill Richards
Bill Richards
19 days ago

I can affirm the article above, I have a severe form of Bi-Polar Disorder and was a very heavy smoker for most of 40years, I tried to quit a few times but it took very little to start me smoking heavily again, Because of my medical history the only thing I did not try was the medication (though tests before posibly starting one found my heart disease, this was opperated on and has meant I have some permanent damage) I tried to quit still with the sprays and NRT but without success, then I started vaping and it took a while (at that time the devices and quality of liquids and flavours was at best patchy) Once I found the right set up I quit and 11 years later I still vape at low level of nicotine, but my health has not worsened as a result