Smoking and mental illness: A population study in South Australia

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Objective: To examine smoking prevalence and smoking behaviour among South Australians with a mental illness and compare findings to those with no mental illness. Method: Data were collected in three cross-sectional representative population surveys of South Australians aged ≥15 years from 2005 to 2007. Merged data yielded a total sample size of 8417. The main outcome measures were: smoking prevalence, measures of tobacco dependence, awareness of the health effects of active and passive smoking, smoke-free homes and cars, awareness of health warnings, and use of cessation aids by two measures of mental illness status. Results: Overall 26.4% of the population with a general mental illness and 51.2% of the population with a severe mental illness smoked, compared to 18.7% of the population without a mental illness. People with a mental illness, particularly severe mental illness displayed higher measures of tobacco dependence. Smokers with a severe mental illness were less likely to have smoke-free homes (OR = 0.29, 95%CI 0.16-0.55). Television was an effective medium to present the health effects of smoking to all groups. Those with a general mental illness were more likely than those with no mental illness to have asked a general practitioner for advice to help them quit in the past year (OR = 2.02, 95%CI 1.07-3.84). Conclusions: Whilst smokers with a mental illness are more dependent on their smoking; they are interested in quitting. There are a number of mainstream tobacco control strategies that could be further utilized (e.g. mass media and health professional referrals to the Quitline) to increase cessation among this disadvantaged group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-331
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2011


  • Addiction
  • mental disorders
  • smoking
  • tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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