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SNAPSHOT: Cigarettes and Mental Health

Cigarette smokers with mental health problems quit smoking at half the rate of others, according to a study published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco ResearchResearchers included Misato Gbedemah from CUNY’s Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy. 

The study used data from 91,739 participants in the 2008-2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Among smokers who reported symptoms of serious psychological distress (feeling nervous, hopeless, worthless, restless, fidgety, depressed) in the month prior to being surveyed, quit rates were just 24 percent, compared to 52 percent for individuals without those symptoms.

An ashtray full of cigarette butts

One theory for the difference: Individuals with mental health issues may be less likely to be offered cessation treatment. “There has been a long-held belief that mental health problems will be exacerbated by quitting smoking and that smoking is helpful to mental health,” senior author Renee Goodwin (Columbia Mailman School) said in a press release, “but increasingly data support just the opposite.”

SNAPSHOT is SUM’s new afternoon science brief.