You Don't Have to Be Crazy to Smoke, But It Helps


Steven A. Schroeder, former president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and now director of the University of California at San Francisco's Smoking Cessation Leadership Center, thinks it's time to stop coddling mental patients by allowing them to smoke. In a Washington Post op-ed piece, he reports:

Almost half of all cigarettes sold in the United States (44 percent) are consumed by people with mental illness. This is because so many people who have mental illnesses smoke (50 to 80 percent, compared with less than 20 percent of the general population) and because they smoke so many cigarettes a day—often three packs. Furthermore, smokers with mental illness are much more likely to smoke their cigarettes right down to the filters.

I'm confused. Since "nicotine dependence" is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (code 305.1), aren't smokers mentally ill by definition?

[Thanks to Alan Vanneman for the tip.]