E-cigarettes especially beneficial for smokers with severe mental illness

Posted by DrMendelsohn on 11 March, 2017

Colin recently co-authored an article on the benefits of switching to e-cigarettes for smokers with severe mental illness who are otherwise unable to quit smoking. Click here to read the full article.

Key Points

People with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have more difficulty quitting than other smokers. Switching to e-cigarettes, which are 95% safer than smoking, is likely to lead to substantial physical and mental health benefits.

E-cigarettes allow users to continue to receive ‘clean’ nicotine without most of the toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke. Some of the special benefits for smokers with mental illness include:

  • Improved concentration, memory and attention
  • Enhanced motivation and socialising
  • Reduced side effects from their other medication, such as less sedation and reduced weight gain
  • Reduced doses of existing antipsychotic medications and antidepressants

There is also a substantial cost saving from e-cigarettes, which are about 85% cheaper than regular smoking. This is especially important for people with severe mental illness who are often on low, fixed incomes and can mean a cost saving of $6-10,000 per year.

Reference. Sharma R, Gartner CE, Castle DJ, Mendelsohn CP. Should we encourage smokers with severe mental illness to switch to vaping? Australia and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 2017 doi.org/10.1177/000486741769782

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