Smoking Cessation could save lives of those living with Depression
New Study projects thousands of patients suffering from depression could be saved from disease and death with a combination of smoking cessation methods and mental health services
It’s been known for many years that people suffering with depression disproportionately smoke more than the rest of the population. That increased exposure to the harms of smoking and tobacco-related disease puts those smokers at more risk of illness and death.
But a promising study carried out by US scientists has identified the potential for incorporating smoking cessation methods with mental health care, a practice that could save the lives of as many as 126,000 smokers over the next 80 years. It’s estimated that that number could be as high as 203,000 lives saved from the harms of smoking when smoking cessation tools are provided to people with depression who are not yet in mental health care treatment programmes.
The study, led by scientists at the Yale School of Public Health, is also the first to research the population health effects of integrating smoking cessation treatments with general mental health care.
Using data compiled over more than a decade by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the researchers projected the effects of smoking cessation treatments on people with depression across different rates of treatment adoption over the course of the next 80 years, up to the year 2100. Their findings projected that 32,000 lives could be saved from the harms of smoking if enough patients adopted any kind of cessation treatment. That number rises to 203,000 among patients utilising 100% of mental health services and pharmacological cessation treatments offered.
Jamie Tam, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Yale and the study's lead author, says: "We've known for a long time that people with depression smoke more than the general population, and that mental health care settings often don't have cessation treatment as part of standard care. Our study asks: what is that missed opportunity? What do we have to gain when mental health care and smoking cessation treatment are fully integrated,"
While the study assumes a best-case scenario to achieve those numbers of lives saved, the researchers are confident that the study supports what public health experts have been saying for years: that smoking cessation methods combined with optimal mental health treatment would have a significant impact on the quality and length of lives for patients living with depression.
“Beyond reducing the risk of early death, smoking cessation improves quality of life and increases productivity,” Tam says. “Decision makers should remove barriers to mental health care and smoking cessation treatments for people with mental health conditions.”
The study’s authors concluded that existing treatments, such as nicotine replacement therapy, varenicline, and bupropion, can increase cessation rates by nearly 60%, but that health gains would be even larger if cessation treatments became more effective in the future.
While the study doesn’t mention vaping and e-cigarettes as effective tools for smoking cessation, for anyone not just those suffering from depression, it has long-been known that vaping can provide a far safer and more enjoyable alternative to smoking. Public Health England has stated that vaping is 95% safer than smoking and the number of adult vapers has risen to about 2.7 million people.