Only crazy people smoke

An American report speaks of a link between smoking and mental illnesses

For their report, Harvard Medical School researchers analyzed data from more than 4,000 people between the ages of 15 and 54 who were surveyed 10 years ago on behalf of the U.S. Congress to determine the prevalence of mental illness. So the data are not new, but the researchers claim that they are the most recent at the national level to show a link between mental illness and smoking.

The Report "Smoking and Mental Illness. A Population-Based Prevalence Study" has been published in the current ie of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The scientists started from observations that patients in psychiatric hospitals are said to smoke more than average. After analyzing the data, they found that people with a mental illness are two times more likely to smoke than those with a mental illness "normal" People. This result was also consistent with earlier research.

Extrapolated to the total population, people with mental illness had consumed over 44 percent of cigarettes sold in the U.S. in the month prior to the survey. Mental illness was defined broadly, ranging from depression or schizophrenia, to panic attacks or drug addiction, to antisocial personality.

While from the "Normal" While 22.5 percent smoked, 34.8 percent of people with lifelong mental illnesses smoked. However, those who smoked the most (41 percent) were those who had a mental illness in the month before the survey, i.e., were obviously under stress.

The question is, of course, to what cause this connection can be attributed: "Perhaps mental illness causes smoking because it makes people more susceptible to tobacco advertising or nicotine addiction", says Karen Lasser of Harvard University. This would be strange, because people with different mental illnesses were allowed to react very differently to advertising, aming that mental illness in general lowers the control over incoming information. "Other studies have", Lasser speculates further, "questioned the direction of causality, however, and suspected that smoking itself may cause mental illnesses. Our results are also compatible with this." So everything remains open again, as it so often is with statistics.

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