Smoking and mental illness: a population study in South Australia

Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2011 Apr;45(4):325-31. doi: 10.3109/00048674.2010.536904. Epub 2010 Dec 13.


Objective: To examine smoking prevalence and smoking behaviour among South Australians with a mental illness and compare findings to those with no mental illness.

Method: Data were collected in three cross-sectional representative population surveys of South Australians aged ≥15 years from 2005 to 2007. Merged data yielded a total sample size of 8417. The main outcome measures were: smoking prevalence, measures of tobacco dependence, awareness of the health effects of active and passive smoking, smoke-free homes and cars, awareness of health warnings, and use of cessation aids by two measures of mental illness status.

Results: Overall 26.4% of the population with a general mental illness and 51.2% of the population with a severe mental illness smoked, compared to 18.7% of the population without a mental illness. People with a mental illness, particularly severe mental illness displayed higher measures of tobacco dependence. Smokers with a severe mental illness were less likely to have smoke-free homes (OR = 0.29, 95%CI 0.16-0.55). Television was an effective medium to present the health effects of smoking to all groups. Those with a general mental illness were more likely than those with no mental illness to have asked a general practitioner for advice to help them quit in the past year (OR = 2.02, 95%CI 1.07-3.84).

Conclusions: Whilst smokers with a mental illness are more dependent on their smoking; they are interested in quitting. There are a number of mainstream tobacco control strategies that could be further utilized (e.g. mass media and health professional referrals to the Quitline) to increase cessation among this disadvantaged group.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Diagnosis, Dual (Psychiatry) / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking Cessation / statistics & numerical data
  • South Australia / epidemiology
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / prevention & control
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / epidemiology


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution