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New CDC Vital Signs: Smoking among those with Mental Illness

Adults with some form of mental illness have a smoking rate 70 percent higher than adults with no mental illness, according to a Vital Signs report. Combined data from SAMHSA’s 2009–2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) were used to calculate national and state estimates of cigarette smoking among adults aged 18 years and older who reported having any mental illness.

  • 36 percent of adults with a mental illness are cigarette smokers, compared with only 21 percent of adults who do not have a mental illness.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 adults in the United States – about 45.7 million Americans—have some type of mental illness.
  • Among adults with mental illness, smoking prevalence is especially high among younger adults, American Indians and Alaska Natives, those living below the poverty line, and those with lower levels of education. Differences also exist across states, with prevalence ranging from 18.2 percent in Utah to 48.7 percent in West Virginia.

Cigarette smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and throughout the world.  Cigarette smoking is responsible for an estimated 443,000 deaths in the United States each year. For quitting assistance, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit Also, visit for information on quitting and preventing children from using tobacco.

Graphics / Images

  • Vutal Signs Button

    Adult with Mental Illness are 70% more likely to smoke than Adults with no mental illness.

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  • Vital Sugns Infographic

    Adult Smoking Focuses on People with Mental Illness: More than 1 in 3 adults (36%) with a mental illness smoke cigarettes, compared with about 1 in 5 adults (21%) with no mental illness. About 3 of every 10 cigarettes (31%) smoked by adults are smoked by adults with mental illness. Nearly 1 in 5 adults (or 45.7 million adults) have some form of mental illness.

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  • cigarettes

    Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causing many diseases and affecting the health of smokers in general, as well as those inhaling “second hand” smoke. Quitting smoking has immediate as well as long-term benefits for you and your loved ones. Photo credit: Debora Cartagena, CDC


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Contact Information

CDC Media Relations
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Tom Frieden, MD, MPH


Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH

Smokers with mental illness, like other smokers, want to quit and can quit. Stop-smoking treatments work-and it’s important to make them more available to all people who want to quit.

Tom Frieden, MD, MPH - Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Pamela S. Hyde, JD


Pamela S. Hyde, JD

Special efforts are needed to raise awareness about the burden of smoking among people with mental illness and to monitor progress in addressing this disparity.

Pamela S. Hyde, JD - Administrator, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration



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