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Smoking may be associated with suicide

Harold Mandel's picture
Smoking kills

There is an increased risk for suicide in smokers, but it has not been known if smoking interventions lower the risk for suicide reported the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research. The researchers investigated whether state-level policy interventions such as increases in cigarette excise taxes and strengthening of smoke free air laws were associated with decreases in suicide risk during the 1990s and early 2000s.

It was found that there were protective associations with suicide with cigarette excise taxes, smoke free air policies, and an index which combines the two policies. These findings support the proposition that population interventions for smoking could possibly decrease risk for suicide.

Smoking itself may be responsible for increased suicide risk

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It has been confirmed that studies have shown cigarette smokers are more likely to commit suicide than people who don’t smoke reports Washington University in St. Louis. In the past it has been erroneously said the increased risk of suicides in smokers was due to an association of smoking with mental illness. However new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has discovered that smoking itself may be responsible for increased suicide risk. It is also therefore felt that policies to limit smoking should decrease suicide rates.

Suicide rates decreased with higher taxes on cigarettes

The research team which was led by Richard A. Grucza, PhD reports that suicide rates decreased by up to 15 percent, relative to the national average, in states where higher taxes on cigarettes and stricter policies to limit smoking in public places were implemented. The analysis of the researchers showed that each dollar increase in cigarette taxes was associated with a 10 percent reduction in suicide risk. It was also found that indoor smoking bans were associated with reductions in suicide risk.

This research offers compelling evidence for the association of smoking with suicide and raises the significant possibility of cutting down on suicides by more effectively fighting smoking. An interesting point that smoking may increase the risk for psychiatric disorders instead of psychiatric illness being a primary cause of smoking is also raised in this study. The prospects of cutting down on high rates of mental illness by aggressively attacking the smoking problem is certainly worth considering. The bottom line is it appears smoking is really a bigger killer than we knew.

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