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Home > Tobacco smoking in young people seeking treatment for mental ill-health: what are their attitudes, knowledge and behaviours towards quitting?

Brown, E and O'Donoghue, B and White, SL and Chanen, A and Bedi, G and Adams, S and Schely, C and Do, TU and Sterjovska, A and Moeller-Saxone, K and Kay-Lambkin, F and Simmons, M and Cementon, E and Killackey, E (2020) Tobacco smoking in young people seeking treatment for mental ill-health: what are their attitudes, knowledge and behaviours towards quitting? Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine , Early online , pp. 1-10.

INTRODUCTION
Tobacco smoking is a leading cause of preventable death and disease worldwide. Adults with mental ill-health smoke tobacco at substantially higher rates than other adults, with public health approaches effective in the population overall having less impact on those with mental ill-health. However, less is known about the tobacco smoking behaviours, attitudes and knowledge of young people with mental ill-health, despite this being the peak period of onset for both mental illness and cigarette smoking.

METHODS
Young people attending a youth mental health centre (providing both primary and specialist care) in Melbourne, Australia were approached by youth peer researchers and asked to complete a survey about smoking behaviours, attitudes and knowledge. We examined smoking and associated attitudes in the sample overall, and as a function of the services accessed.

RESULTS
In total, 114 young people completed the survey, with 56.3% reporting lifetime cigarette smoking, 42.0% smoking in the last 12 months and 28.6% in the past week. Of current regular smokers, 75.0% acknowledged they should quit in the future; however, only 23.5% planned to do so in the next month, with 44.4% confident that they could quit. Participants lacked knowledge about interactions between tobacco smoking, mental and physical health.

CONCLUSIONS
Youth presenting for mental ill-health had high rates of cigarette smoking relative to population rates. Presentation at youth mental health services may represent a critical window for early intervention to reduce the lifetime impacts of cigarette smoking in mental ill-health. Interventions to support smoking cessation in this group are urgently needed.


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