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How much do mental disorders contribute to New Zealand’s tobacco epidemic?
  1. M Tobias1,
  2. R Templeton1,
  3. S Collings2
  1. 1
    Public Health Intelligence, New Zealand Ministry of Health, New Zealand
  2. 2
    Social Psychiatry and Population Mental Health Research Unit, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand
  1. Martin Tobias, Ministry of Health, PO Box 5013, Wellington, New Zealand; 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 2003–4. Estimates of the smoking intensity ratio (comparing smokers with mental disorders to those without mental disorders) were derived from the 2006–7 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 are urgently needed.

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  • Competing interests: None.

  • Funding: None.