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Smoking and mental health: change is long overdue

FPH supports a major new report from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych), which says that smoking in people with mental health conditions is neglected by the NHS. Smoking and mental health says that much of the substantially lower life expectancy of people with mental disorders relates to smoking, which is often overlooked during the management and treatment of their mental health condition.

One in three of the UK’s 10 million current smokers has a mental disorder. Although 20% of the general population smokes, the figure among people with mental health disorders is 40%, and is even higher in those with more severe mental health problems. Those with mental disorders also smoke more cigarettes, are more addicted to nicotine, and find it harder to quit, than those without.

Although the prevalence of smoking in the UK has fallen substantially over the past two decades, among people with mental disorders it has barely changed.  FPH's President Lindsey Davies joins Sir Richard Thompson (Royal College of Physicians) and Sue Bailey (Royal College of Psychiatrists) to say in their Foreword to the report that this is an indictment of UK public health policy and clinical service provision, and an area where change is long overdue:

"As smoking becomes less prevalent in our society, so the need to identify and reverse failures of health policy and service provision for those who remain dependent on tobacco smoking becomes more urgent. This report calls for radical changes in the prioritisation, service provision and prevention of this major cause of premature death and disability in people with mental disorders."

Written: 28/03/2013 , last modified: 12/09/2013