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Am J Prev Med. 2015 Sep;49(3):362-9. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2015.01.016. Epub 2015 Jun 10.

Poor Mental Health and Reduced Decline in Smoking Prevalence.

Author information

Department of Psychiatry, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick. Electronic address:
Department of Psychiatry, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick.
New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Trenton, New Jersey.



Although smoking prevalence has been declining for smokers without mental illness, it has been static for those with mental illness. The purpose of this study is to examine differences in smoking rates and trajectories of smoking prevalence in the often-overlooked population of smokers with poor mental health, compared with those with better mental health.


Data were obtained from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System from 2001 to 2010 to examine the relationship between poor mental health and current, daily, and intermittent tobacco use in New Jersey. Data were analyzed in 2014.


During 2001-2010, current, daily, and intermittent smoking prevalence was higher in participants with poor mental health than those with better mental health. In addition, with the exception of 2 years, prevalence rates remained unchanged in this 10-year period for those with poor mental health while they significantly decreased for those with better mental health.


The disparity in which smokers with poor mental health are more likely to be current smokers and less likely to be never smokers as compared with those with better mental health has increased over time. These data suggest the need to more closely examine tobacco control and treatment policies in smokers with behavioral health issues. It is possible that tobacco control strategies are not reaching those with poor mental health, or, if they are, their messages are not translating into successful cessation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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