Smoking and mental health: results from a community survey

Med J Aust. 1999 Jan 18;170(2):74-7. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.1999.tb126887.x.


Objective: To assess the relationship of smoking with depression and anxiety symptoms and with risk factors for depression.

Design and setting: A community survey conducted in Canberra in 1997.

Participants: 2725 persons aged 18-79 sampled from the electoral roll.

Main outcome measures: Smoking was investigated in relation to psychiatric symptoms (anxiety, depression, alcohol misuse), sociodemographic characteristics (age, sex, education, occupational status), social stressors (divorce, unemployment, financial difficulties, negative life events, childhood adversity), personality (extraversion, neuroticism, psychoticism), and social support (family and friends).

Results: Smokers had more depression and anxiety symptoms, more stressors and lower socioeconomic status compared with non-smokers. The association between smoking and psychiatric symptoms persisted even when stressors, socioeconomic characteristics and other factors were statistically controlled.

Conclusions: Smoking is associated with poorer mental health. In helping patients to give up smoking, doctors need to be aware that some may have underlying mental health problems that require attention.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / complications*
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Depression / complications*
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Sampling Studies
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires