Newfoundland and Labrador Smokers’ Helpline

important considerations:
mental illness & smoking

People with mental illness experience a list of risk factors for tobacco use. These individuals are more likely to[1]:

  • Have a lower socioeconomic status.
  • Be surrounded by others who smoke.
  • Experience homelessness.
  • Lack medical insurance and;
  • Lack access to resources that could help them quit.

The financial costs of smoking affect quality of life. People with mental illness who are addicted to tobacco may spend up to 27% of their income on tobacco addiction while struggling to afford food or other essential daily needs[2].

Additionally, some people with mental illness may have reduced social functioning and use smoking to cope with boredom and loneliness or use it as a way to connect with others[3].

Components in tobacco smoke increase the metabolism of some antidepressants and antipsychotic medications resulting in lowered levels of medication in the blood.  When a person quits, the levels of drug in the person’s blood may increase significantly and dosages may need to be adjusted.

Individuals with mental illness and/or addictions may drink a lot of coffee and caffeine levels can rise when quitting smoking, thus caffeine levels should be monitored[2].


[1] Weir, K. (2013). Smoking and mental illness. American Psychological Association, 44(6), 36.

[2] CAN-ADAPTT. (2011). Canadian Smoking Cessation Clinical Practice Guideline. Toronto, Canada: Canadian Action Network for the Advancement, Dissemination and Adoption of Practice-informed TobaccoTreatment, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

[3] Morris, C., Waxmonsky, J., May, M., Giese, A., Martin, L.(2009). Smoking cessation for persons with mental illnesses: A toolkit for mental health providers. Denver, Colorado: University of Colorado, Department of Psychiatry