Promoting mental health, demystifying mental illness, countering stigma and discrimination

Smoking & Mental Health

Smoking is far more common for people with a mental illness than in the general population.  Almost 25% of the general population smoke but almost

75% of people with a mental illness smoke.

Why do people with a serious mental illness smoke more?
People with a serious mental illness, like many others, often smoke because they have learned to use it as a way of dealing with feelings of boredom and/or stress.  Also, some chemicals in cigarettes such as the highly addictive substance nicotine may affect symptoms of schizophrenia.  As a consequence, smokers generally need higher doses of anti-psychotic medication.  This may also lead to increased side effects.
Some studies show people with a history of depression need extra support when they try to quit smoking.  Some antidepressant medications can make quitting smoking easier for someone who has experienced depression.
Why change smoking habits?
There are many good reasons:
  • Diseases caused by smoking are the second largest killers of people who have a mental illness.
  • People who cut down or quit smoking may have their dose of anti-psychotic medication reduced.
  • People who cut down or quit smoking have more to spend on the necessities and pleasures of life.
  • People who reduce or quit will feel better within themselves, be healthier and have more confidence in their ability to achieve.
How can I give up smoking?
  • Firstly, make a decision to change your smoking habits. This is the most important step you can make.
  • Secondly, discuss your decision with your GP or ask another health professional. There are programmes in Taranaki that are available to help you reduce or quit smoking.
  • Thirdly, tell your family/whanau and friends of your plans and enlist their help to support you in your programme.
  • Lastly, plan how to spend the money you have saved so that you can live a healthier and happier life.
Resources in Taranaki:
Quit Line
Tel:  0800 778 778

Like Minds Taranaki gratefully acknowledges the financial support of this website by the Ministry of Health

Feedback is always welcome


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Taranaki Mental Health Sector