Smokers at greater risk of developing schizophrenia

PEOPLE who smoke are more likely to be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia than those who don’t, researchers at the University of Queensland have found.

Their review of eight long-running studies found strong evidence of an association between smoking and mental illness, which they suggest is most likely caused by nicotine.

Associate Professor James Scott said the findings raised serious concerns about the increasing use of nicotine through e-cigarettes by young adults.


Dr Scott said the review found the risk of developing schizophrenia increased twofold for smokers.

“People who smoke tobacco have an approximately twofold increased risk of developing schizophrenia or psychosis,” Dr Scott said.

“While e-cigarettes reduce some of the harms associated with smoking, governments need to consider their potential to harm the mental health of young people.”

Dr Scott said e-cigarettes were often reported to be safe, and marketing was directed towards young people.

“More research is urgently needed to examine the association between e-cigarette use and psychosis, particularly in adolescents and young adults,” Dr Scott said.

“Until there is a better understanding of the harm of e-cigarettes, it would be safest that liquid nicotine remains illegal to buy in Australia without a prescription.”