Vital Signs: Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults Aged ≥18 Years with Mental Illness — United States, 2009–2011
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Vital Signs: Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults Aged ≥18 Years with Mental Illness — United States, 2009–2011

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  • Alternative Title:
    MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep
  • Description:

    Cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable morbidity and Mortality in the United States Despite overall declines in cigarette smoking, a high prevalence of smoking persists among certain subpopulations, including persons with mental illness.


    Combined data from the 2009–2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) were used to calculate national and state estimates of cigarette smoking among adults aged ≥18 years who had any mental illness (AMI), defined as having a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder, excluding developmental and substance use disorders, in the past 12 months.


    During 2009–2011, an annual average of 19.9% of adults aged ≥18 years had AMI; among these persons, 36.1% were current smokers, compared with 21.4 % among adults with no mental illness. Smoking prevalence among those with AMI was highest among men, adults aged <45 years, and those living below the poverty level; smoking prevalence was lowest among college graduates. During 2009–2011, adults with AMI smoked 30.9% of all cigarettes smoked by adults. By U.S. region, smoking prevalence among those with AMI was lowest in the West (31.5%) and Northeast (34.7%) and highest in the Midwest (39.1%) and South (37.8%), with state prevalence ranging from 18.2% (Utah) to 48.7% (West Virginia).


    The prevalence of cigarette smoking is high among adults with AMI, especially for younger adults, those with low levels of education, and those living below the poverty level; the prevalence varies by U.S. region.

    Implications for Public Health Practice

    Increased awareness about the high prevalence of cigarette smoking among persons with mental illness is needed to enhance efforts to reduce smoking in this population. Proven population-based Prevention strategies should be extended to persons with mental illness, including implementing tobacco-free campus policies in mental health facilities. Primary care and mental health-care providers should routinely screen patients for tobacco use and offer evidence-based cessation treatments. Given that persons with mental illness are at risk for multiple adverse behavioral and health outcomes, tobacco cessation will have substantial benefits, including a reduction in excess morbidity and Mortality attributed to tobacco use.

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