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CDC Study Smoking Rates Higher among Adults with Mental Illnesses

Adults suffering a mental illness in the United States smoke cigarettes at a 70 percent higher rate than adults who do not have a mental sickness, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday.

The CDC report discovered that more than one-third (36 percent) of mentally ill adults smoke, compared to less than one quarter (21 percent) of other adults. Individuals diagnosed with a mental illness also are heavy smokers by consuming approximately 331 cigarettes each month, contrasted with 310 for other adult smokers.

“Smokers with mental illness, like other smokers, want to quit and can quit,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, in a press release. “Stop-smoking treatments work and it’s important to make them more available to all people who want to quit.”

Frieden added that smoking rates were also higher among those who are less-educated, younger and impoverished. There were even regional differences found in the study, such as rates differing from 18.2 percent in Utah to nearly 50 percent in West Virginia.

This latest study analyzed data from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) 2009 to 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health that consisted of interviews with about 138,000 adults at their homes, excluding mental hospital patients or members of the U.S. military.

Frieden explained that tobacco can certainly alter some aspects of mental illness, including anxiety, but it can cause a list of long-term health problems. Frieden noted that cigarette usage should not be a form of self-medication.

The CDC is now recommending and urging all mental health facilities to ban smoking by both the patients and the medical staff. SAMHSA has begun to work with the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center to find ways to assist these facilities prohibit smoking and help stop people with mental illnesses from smoking.

“We need to do more to help smokers with mental illness quit,” Frieden told reporters during a telephone briefing Wednesday, according to Reuters. “There are very good treatments and very good counseling that, unlike cigarettes, don’t take 10 years off your life.”

According to the CDC, cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the U.S. and across the globe. Roughly 443,000 deaths occur every year in the U.S. because of cigarette smoking.

“Special efforts are needed to raise awareness about the burden of smoking among people with mental illness and to monitor progress in addressing this disparity,” noted SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde in the media release.

The CDC’s findings were published in this month’s issue of the organization’s Vital Signs.