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How much do mental disorders contribute to New Zealand's tobacco epidemic?
  1. Martin Ian Tobias1,
  2. Robert Templeton1,
  3. Sunny Collings2
  1. 1 Ministry of Health, New Zealand;
  2. 2 University of Otago, New Zealand
  1. E-mail: martin_tobias{at}


Objective: To quantify the share of tobacco consumed by people with 12-month mental disorders in New Zealand.

Methods: Estimates of current smoking prevalence and the 12-month prevalence of three groups of mental disorders – anxiety, mood and substance use disorders – were derived from the New Zealand Mental Health Survey, a nationally representative survey of almost 13 000 adults (16+ years) fielded in 2003-04.

Estimates of the smoking intensity ratio (comparing smokers with to those without mental disorders) were derived from the 2006/07 New Zealand Health Survey.

Results: Approximately 33% of all cigarettes are consumed by people with 12-month mental disorders (males 27%, females 39%), using an estimated smoking intensity ratio of 1.21. Among this group, anxiety disorders account for almost one half of consumption, mood disorders for over one quarter and substance use disorders for about one fifth.

Conclusion: This study quantifies for the first time the contribution of mental disorders to tobacco consumption in New Zealand. In particular, it identifies anxiety disorders as an important risk factor for tobacco use. People with mental disorders are an important target group for tobacco control. Enhanced collaboration and sharing of expertise between smoking cessation service providers and community mental health services is urgently needed.

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