Tough Smoking Laws May Lower Suicide Risk

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Efforts by many states and municipalities to curb smoking by raising cigarette taxes may not only lead to a decline in tobacco usage, it also might be leading to a decline in the suicide rate.

Research has already shown that smokers are more likely to commit suicide, given the habit is popular among people with psychiatric disorders, who have higher suicide rates.

"Our analysis showed that each dollar increase in cigarette taxes was associated with a 10% decrease in suicide risk," said Richard Grucza, associate professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “Indoor smoking bans also were associated with risk reductions.”

Grucza and his colleagues examined suicide rates across the United States between 1990 and 2004. During this period, many states introduced aggressive anti-smoking laws while others did little or nothing.

Their research, published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, found that states with higher cigarette taxes and stricter rules limiting where people could smoke saw suicide rates decline up to 15% compared to the national average. And in states that did little or nothing to curb smoking, suicide rates there rose by up to 6%.

"If you're not a smoker, or not likely ever to become a smoker, then your suicide risk shouldn't be influenced by tobacco policies," Grucza said. "So the fact that we saw this influence among people who likely were smokers provides additional support for our idea that smoking itself is linked to suicide, rather than some other factor related to policy." 

Study Suggests Tough Smoking Laws Might Lower Suicide Risk
Study Suggests Tough Smoking Laws Might Lower Suicide Risk

Smoking may increase a person's risk for suicide, but high cigarette taxes and smoking restrictions in public places lower that risk, a new study suggests.

For the study, published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, Richard Grucza, associate professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and his colleagues analyzed suicide rates across the United States between 1990 and 2004.

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