Newfoundland and Labrador Smokers’ Helpline

important considerations

Although smoking rates in the general population have decreased over the years, there continues to be high rates of smoking among people with mental illness and addiction.

For example:

Smoking rates are 2-4 times higher among people with mental illness than in the general population[1]. People with addictions also have higher smoking rate[1].

50-90% of individuals with mental illness or addiction are tobacco dependent[2].

Smoking rates vary depending on the type of mental illness or addiction[3].

Smoking rate of populations of individuals with:

Bipolar Disorder – 51-70%
Depression – 36-80%
Anxiety Disorders – 32-60%
Schizophrenia – 62-90%
Alcohol Abuse – 34-93%

Individuals with mental illness and addiction also tend to smoke more cigarettes per day than the general population[1].

Alcohol and drug abuse are strongly associated with high rates of smoking.  Of individuals in addictions treatment, 80-98% smoke[4].

One of every two people who smoke will die due to smoking related illnesses[5] and individuals with mental illness and/or addiction are disproportionately affected by tobacco-related disease and death[1].

Individuals with mental illness and addiction may die up to 25 years earlier than individuals in the general population; most of these deaths are attributable to tobacco use[6].


[1] 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

[2] Williams, J.M. & Ziedonis, D. (2004). Addressing tobacco among individuals with a mental illness or an addiction. Addictive Behaviors 29, 1067-1083.

[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

[4] Baca, C.T., & Yahne, C.E. (2009). Smoking cessation during substance abuse treatment: What you need to know. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 36, 205-219.

[5] World Health Organization. (2001). Regulation of nicotine replacement therapies: an expert consensus. Copenhagen: World Health Organization.

[6] Prochaska, J.J. (2010). Failure to treat tobacco use in mental health and addiction treatment settings: A form of harm reduction? Drug and Alcohol Dependence 110, 177-182.

Newfoundland and Labrador Smokers’ Helpline