BBC Radio Bristol discusses the subject on the Breakfast Show with Ali Vowles(1). “We often hear that smoking helps people deal with stress and that’s one reason they give not to give up,” said Vowles, “but could the opposite be true?”
Speaking about a study by researchers at the University of Bath, she explained how quitting smoking could benefit people suffering with anxiety or depression. Dr Jemma Taylor from the Addiction and Mental Health Group commented: “When people give up their mental health improves.”
Taylor says the study was an update on previous work and therefore the association didn’t come as a shock. The results mapped out across all different population, “across the board we saw mental health was improving.”
Smoking rates in people with anxiety and depression has held firm while plummeting in the rest of the smoking population. Experts have been calling for NHS mental health units to adopt a more pragmatic approach to smoking cessation that includes promoting switching to vaping.
In its latest review, the researchers at Cochrane found(2) that when compared with people who continued to smoke, people who stopped smoking showed greater reductions in:
- anxiety (evidence from 3141 people in 15 studies)
- depression (7156 people in 34 studies)
- mixed anxiety and depression (2829 people in 8 studies)
Polosa’s team looked at the potential for high nicotine e-cigarettes to work as a smoking cessation intervention for smokers with schizophrenia(3). They noted: “An estimated 60%–90% of people with schizophrenia smoke, compared with 15%–24% of the general population, exacerbating the already high morbidity and mortality rates observed in this population.”
The sample size was small and makes extrapolation to a population difficult, but they discovered 40% of smokers had quit by the end the three-month period and the rest managed to half their use of tobacco products, with 75% reducing their smoking from 25 to 6 cigarettes a day.
They concluded: “A high strength nicotine e-cigarette has the potential to help people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders to quit or reduce smoking. Further research with a larger sample and a comparator group is needed. The results provide useful information and direction to augment the existing body of knowledge on smoking cessation for people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders.”
- The Breakfast Show with Ali Vowles - https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p098bnjj
- Does stopping smoking improve mental health? - https://www.cochrane.org/CD013522/TOBACCO_does-stopping-smoking-improve-mental-health
- A Single-Arm, Open-Label, Pilot, and Feasibility Study of a High Nicotine Strength E-Cigarette Intervention for Smoking Cessation or Reduction for People With Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders Who Smoke Cigarettes - https://academic.oup.com/ntr/advance-article/doi/10.1093/ntr/ntab005/6168972