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Urgent action needed to tackle smoking in people with mental health conditions: new report

Posted 8 Aug, 2018

Quit Victoria has today welcomed the release of Australia’s Mental and Physical Health Tracker report, which highlights smoking as a significant risk to the health and wellbeing of people with mental illness.

The report from the Australian Health Policy Collaboration (AHPC) at Victoria University shows that people with mental health conditions were much more likely to smoke than the general population.

Men were 38% more likely to report smoking, while women were 69% more likely to report smoking than women in the general population.

Quit Victoria Director Dr Sarah White said health professionals and mental health services are perfectly placed to support people with mental health conditions quit smoking and greatly improve both their physical and mental health and wellbeing.

“Shockingly, Australian men with mental illness live 15.9 years less and women live 12 years less than those without mental illness, and that’s largely attributable to smoking-related illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and cancer,” Dr White said.

“But we know that most people with mental health conditions do want to quit smoking and improve their own physical health.

“It’s vital that we embed quit smoking support programs into mental health services to give people the support they need to break free from smoking and help improve their chances of living a longer and healthier life.”

Quit Victoria is working with mental health services across Melbourne as part of the Tackling Tobacco program. Developed by Cancer Council NSW, Tackling Tobacco is a framework that services can implement to create a smokefree culture and reduce smoking rates of clients, staff and community members. Learn more about the initiative on the Quit website.

Today’s health tracker report also revealed strong links between mental health and smoking-related illness. 1.075 million Australians had both a mental health condition and a circulatory disease, while men with mental health conditions were 82% more likely to report having cancer, and women with mental health conditions were 20% more likely to have cancer.

Just last month Quit Victoria joined 25 other leading health and community organisations in launching the Target 2025 vision statement and committing to reduce Victoria’s daily smoking rate to 5% by 2025. 

Working with mental health and community services to address high smoking rates among people living with mental illness is a key step in achieving the Target 2025 goal. 

Quit Victoria is a partnership between VicHealth, Cancer Council Victoria, the State Government of Victoria and the Heart Foundation.

Media release

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