New Bad News for Secondhand Smokers

by Helen Zhang, age 12

High rates of depression and other mental health issues are common to smokers in our society. Now, a new study conducted by the University College of London suggests that people exposed to secondhand smoke are also at a higher risk of being hospitalized due to mental illness.   

he study examined data from the Scottish Health Survey of 1998 and 2003. This survey sampled 2,595 smoking adults and 5,560 nonsmoking adults. The study found that nonsmokers who were exposed to secondhand smoke were 1.5 times more likely to experience symptoms of psychological distress than unexposed nonsmokers.    

Although psychiatric hospitalizations were rare across all study participants, those exposed to secondhand smoke were hospitalized more frequently than the smokers. According to the study’s authors, this finding raises awareness about the seriousness of secondhand smoke.

The connection between mental health issues and smoking is well known among psychiatric professionals. Many scientists say further research is necessary before conclusions can be reached.

[Sources: USA Today; New York Times]