Tobacco smoking and mental health in Australian adolescents

In Australia it is estimated that around 14 people die each year from cigarette-related fires

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Tobacco smoking and mental health in Australian adolescents

In Australia it is estimated that around 14 people die each year from cigarette-related fires. The government has accepted the FSC proposal. Cigarette companies changed their products in 2010 to ensure cigarettes self-extinguish more quickly before new regulations took effect in March 2010.

The habitual consumption of cigarettes is a factor that increases the risk of the onset of a series of pathologies that can have a fatal outcome for the subject, which can be grouped into three subspecies: heart disease, respiratory disease and the appearance of tumor masses.

Tobacco, and especially the nicotine it contains, can be addictive. However, a distinction must be made between physical dependence and psychological dependence. Nicotine or even the cigarette in its entirety can generate both.

Cigarette dependence can vary greatly from person to person, however generally there is a decrease or disappearance of the symptoms of physical dependence within ten days of the last cigarette, while psychological dependence can last for months, years or not disappear never quite.

The Tobacco smoking and mental disorders in Australian adolescents study, published in The Australian and New Zealand journal of psychiatry, exlained: "This study aimed to examine the strength of the association between mental disorders/mental health problems, risk behaviors and tobacco smoking among Australian adolescents, compare rates of tobacco smoking among Australian adolescents with major depressive disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and/or conduct disorder in 2013/14 vs 1998, and identify the extent to which an association between tobacco smoking and mental health problems among adolescents can be attributed to non-mental health risk factors.

The study utilized data from the first (1998) and second (2013/14) child and adolescent components of the National Surveys of Mental Health and Wellbeing. Both surveys identified nationally representative samples of Australian young people aged 4-17 years, living in private dwellings.

Information was collected from parents and 13- to 17-year-olds about mental disorders, mental health problems, risk behaviors and tobacco smoking. In the 2013/14 survey, the rate of current tobacco smoking among those with a mental disorder was 20% compared to 5% in those without a mental disorder.

Rates were highest for young people with conduct disorder (50%), major depressive disorder (24%) and anxiety disorders (19%). In 2013/14, 38% of current tobacco smokers had a mental disorder and 32% reported self-harm and/or suicidal ideation vs 10% and 5%, respectively, among adolescents who had never smoked.

Females with mental disorders or reporting self-harm or suicidal ideation had higher rates of current smoking than males. Other significant factors associated with current smoking included school-related problems, binge eating and having had more than one sexual partner.

While smoking rates in 13- to 17-year-olds with mental disorders had declined since 1998, the strength of the association between mental disorders and smoking had increased, especially among females. Our findings highlight the need to address the tobacco smoking among adolescents with mental disorders, particularly females."