This has led to a focus, and a detachment of stigma, surrounding mental health conditions, which allows for more and more people taking the step forward to talk and take advice.
What many are unaware of is the relationship between smoking and mental health, possibly due to the lack of studies and spotlight on the subject matter. Recently, Vape Club conducted a survey analysing the effects and correlation of smoking and mental health with the Quitting Smoking For Mental Health Study, asking over 1000 participants to fill out a survey exploring the influence that smoking has on their mental health. The results were an interesting insight into how smoking impacts wellbeing and personal development.
We all know of the negative effects that smoking has on our physical health and the increased chances of developing a range of fatal diseases and conditions including cancer, heart attacks and strokes. What is often overlooked are the significant repercussions on a person’s mental health that smoking causes and what can be done to stop it.
Thankfully one of the best resources of information regarding smoking amongst people with mental health conditions comes from PHE (Public Health England) with data collated from the majority of districts in England. Vape Club has compiled the information into an interactive map allowing readers to view the average smoking prevalence of people with mental health conditions on a regional scale. For context, the national average of people with mental health conditions who smoke is 26.8% which is almost double the national average of smoking prevalence in adults at 14.1%, according to the ONS (Office Of National Statistics).
Amongst the highest prevalence of people with mental health conditions who smoke is Rutland (52.7%) and Blackpool (50.2%) with an alarmingly high average, whilst Bolsover (8.6%) and North Hertfordshire (10.8%) feature the lowest.
Through the Vape Club survey, it was recorded that a huge 43.9% of ex-smokers stated that their mental health has improved since they quit smoking. At the same time, a staggering 66.2% of smokers state that cigarettes have a negative impact on their mental health.
To curb these habits, it was asked what could be done to make it easier to quit smoking, with 45% of respondents claiming that greater access to vaping equipment would be hugely beneficial. As well as this, 39.1% of ex-smokers stated that allowing vaping in the workplace would have helped, whilst 34.4% of current smokers think they would have a better chance of quitting if this was a workplace policy.
In terms of university students, the ONS have predicted that people aged between 18-24 in the UK have a smoking prevalence of 16.8%, with the majority of people developing mental health problems by the age of 24. The Mental Health Foundation found in 2006, 3000 students reported a mental health condition, which increased to 15,000 students in 2016, a huge spike over a 10 year period. This rapid escalation highlights that more treatment and support is needed for young adults, particularly when coupled with the obvious stress of higher education.
As expected, the overriding theme of The Quitting Smoking For Mental Health Study was that smoking has a negative effect on mental health. The fact that this was visibly apparent in the responses from both current smokers and ex-smokers proves that along with the detrimental effects on physical health, smoking has an apparent adverse impact on mental health wellbeing.
Hopefully this research will provide more health initiatives to delve into deeper research of the subject. Dan Marchant, who is the Director of Vape Club as well as founding member of the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA), says, “People’s awareness of the link between smoking and poor mental health is clearly on the rise. There’s long been a focus on the physical effects of smoking but it’s encouraging to see that the serious emotional effects, as well as the additional strain that smoking puts on the NHS mental health services, are being acknowledged too.
It’s estimated that it costs the NHS approximately £720m per year in treating smoking-related diseases in people with mental health conditions. This huge burden, as well as the overall £2.5 billion that the NHS spends on smokers according to Cancer Research UK, would be one of the predominant reasons as to why the government have ambitiously proposed the nation to be smoke free by 2030 through the Tobacco Control Plan For England.
Dan goes on to state, ”The overall picture of smoking in England is moving in the right direction, but the statistics on smoking prevalence remain worrying, and far more can be done to educate people on cessation tools like vaping that can make a huge difference”.
In terms of help out there, there are a number of charities and organisations which help those suffering from mental health conditions. Many of these, Vape Club have cited in the study, including Mind, Sane, Silverline and Shout to name but a few.
When it comes to stopping smoking, there are plenty of stop smoking services out there, which despite seeing huge cuts to funding, continue to offer bespoke and effective treatment, including the NHS, ASH (Action On Smoking & Health) and Quit With Help.
Furthermore, one of the most effective ways to quit, twice as effective in fact when compared to other forms of NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy), is of course vaping. There are plenty of vaping organisations, such as Vape Club, who provide a variety of educational materials as well as the products themselves, which help people to quit smoking and lead a healthier lifestyle.
Overall, the need for more thorough research and advice into smoking’s relationship with mental health can not be reiterated enough. The Quitting Smoking For Mental Health Study clearly highlights this and hopefully soon more can be done to help this large number of people and in turn support the NHS.