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Stub out those mood swings

Monday, 25 Feb 2013 12:00

Regular smokers are more likely to develop mood and anxiety disorders. That's according to new research, which suggests the traditional belief among smokers that their habit helps to relax them may not be entirely accurate.

The research, published in the American Journal of Public Health1, shows one in seven (14.2 per cent) of those aged 18 to 49 experienced new mood or anxiety disorders, while one in eleven (8.9 per cent) people aged 50 or over experienced new symptoms.

If a person is under a lot of stress, they will often have a difficult time cutting cigarettes out. If a person is a former smoker, it is most likely they will start smoking again in response to a stressful situation or bad mood. Statistics2 show that people who are depressed are twice as likely to smoke as those who are not.

Most smokers learn to use cigarettes as a method of dealing with stress in their lives. When things are stressful, they reach for a cigarette. You will often hear them say that it calms them down. People who tend to be sad, tense, angry, or even bored, will reach for a cigarette when something triggers one of these emotions.

Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, thinks the research could prove to be a useful guide for the Government, local authorities and anti-smoking campaigners in knowing who to target.

Dr Carter says: "This research has given anti-smoking campaigners a very specific idea of who they can target. Previously it has been suggested that smoking relieves the tension many people feel. I am sure we all know a smoker who is more irritable when they haven't had a cigarette for a lengthy period of time.

"As this research appears to point to regular smoking causing mood and anxiety problems, it is yet another reason for those considering taking up the habit to think again. No Smoking Day takes place on 13 March this year, and it's an excellent time to consider stubbing out smoking.

"Tobacco use is also the leading risk factor for developing mouth cancer. Smoking helps to transforms saliva into a deadly cocktail that damages cells in the mouth and can turn them cancerous. If you are a smoker, or if you drink alcohol to excess, have a poor diet, have the human papilloma virus (HPV), often transmitted via oral sex, you could be at risk from developing a disease that kills one person every five hours in the UK. The Foundation's advice is simple - if in doubt, get checked out."

Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the BHF, said: "One of the biggest incentives for smokers to quit comes from considering the real amount of money they spend on cigarettes and thinking about what themselves and their family could afford if they were to give up for good.

"By tallying up the exact amount of money that could be saved, smokers can work towards an actual goal - be it a new pair of shoes, a family trip to the cinema or a dream holiday.

"No Smoking Day provides the perfect opportunity for people to join thousands of others attempting to quit on the same day. So why not get ready to join in and reward yourself and your family with the money you save when you ‘swap fags for swag'."


1. Cigarette Smoking and Onset of Mood and Anxiety Disorders

2. NCHS Dataline
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