Baku, February 25, AZERTAC
Smokers are around 70 per cent more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, a study has revealed.
Researchers said quitting smoking could help people combat the conditions, thereby improving their mental health.
They found that levels of anxiety and depression reported by long-term ex-smokers were indistinguishable from people who have never smoked.
They were also much lower than current smokers.
The study looked at 6,500 people over the age of 40.
It found that 18.3 per cent of smokers reported suffering depression and anxiety, compared with 10 per cent of non-smokers and 11.3 per cent of ex-smokers.
The research, described as the first of its kind to compare the prevalence of anxiety and depression in smokers, non-smokers, and long-term ex-smokers.
The latter group is defined as smokers who have quit for longer than a year.
Experts behind the new study said it dispels the commonly-held perception that lighting up helps relieves stress.
Lead researcher Robert West, professor of health psychology at UCL (University College London), said: 'Our study found that long-term ex-smokers have similar prevalence of anxiety and depression to non-smokers and considerably lower levels than smokers.
'Quitting smoking could be the key to improving not only your physical health, but your mental health too.'
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) released the findings ahead of No Smoking Day on March 11.