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Feature Article

Smokers with mental illness: breaking down the myths

Colin P Mendelsohn, Mark E Montebello

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Abstract

Smokers with mental illness are motivated to stop smoking and can quit successfully, usually without any exacerbation of their mental illness. GPs should be proactive in helping these patients to quit.

Key Points

  • People with mental illness have a smoking prevalence twice that of people without mental illness.
  • Smokers with mental illness are more likely to die from tobacco-related disease than from mental illness.
  • Smokers with mental illness are at least as motivated to quit as those without mental illness and can quit successfully, generally without any exacerbation of their mental health condition.
  • The same evidence-based therapies for quitting used in the general population are recommended for smokers with mental illness, with some special considerations in choice of pharmacotherapy.
  • Patients should be monitored for side effects of psychotropic medications when quitting as dosages may need to be adjusted.

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