Israeli researchers find cigarette smoke damages our mental health

Baku, January 9, AZERTAC

Smoking has a negative effect on your mental health as well as your physical wellbeing, Israeli researches at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem have found, according to TPS.

For decades, doctors have warned about the health risks of smoking and the dangers of lung cancer, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Professor Hagai Levine at Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s-Hadasssah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine has expanded the research of the mental health risks related to smoking and found that those who smoked had rates of clinical depression that were twice to three times higher than their non-smoking peers.

The study involved Levine’s colleagues Assistant Professor Tatjana Gazibara at the University of Belgrade and Ph.D. student Marija Milic at the University of Pristina.

Together, they surveyed more than 2,000 students enrolled at Serbian universities with differing socio-political and economic environments. The researchers found that students who smoked had twice to three times higher rates of clinical depression than did their non-smoking peers.

At the University of Pristina, 14% of smokers suffered from depression as opposed to 4% of their non-smoking peers, and at Belgrade University the numbers were 19% to 11%, respectively.

Furthermore, regardless of their economic or socio-political backgrounds, students who smoked also had higher rates of depressive symptoms and lower mental health scores such as, vitality and social functioning than did non-smoking students.

“Our study adds to the growing body of evidence that smoking and depression are closely linked,” said Levine. “While it may be too early to say that smoking causes depression, tobacco does appear to have an adverse effect on our mental health.”

The study was published in Israel on Wednesday in tandem with a new step in the country’s war on tobacco, an amendment to Israel’s Law on Restriction on Advertising and Marketing of Tobacco and Smoking Products that mandates a countrywide ban on store displays of tobacco products, an increase in the size of cigarette box warnings from 30% to 65%, and requires all tobacco and e-cigarette products to be sold in uniform packaging, with no individual logos or company branding.

While these are important steps, Levine said he would like to see policymakers consider smoking’s mental health effects, as well.

“I urge universities to advocate for their students’ health by creating ‘Smoke-Free Campuses’ that not only ban smoking on campus but tobacco advertising, too,” he said.

“Combined with policies that prevent, screen and treat mental health problems, including addiction, these steps would go a long way towards combatting the harmful effects that smoking has on our physical and mental states,” he added.

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