Report: Smoking and Mental Health – An exploration of data in Northern Ireland and scan of policy approaches in the UK and Ireland

This report examined the relationship between tobacco use and mental ill-health in Northern Ireland. It also considered tobacco control policy approaches to this issue across the UK and Ireland. 

The evidence was developed in response to a recommendation in the mid-term review of the Department of Health tobacco strategy. The report findings supported the Department’s End of Term Review of the Tobacco Strategy and can inform the content of any successor strategy. 

The report found that around one in three people who smoke in Northern Ireland has a possible psychiatric disorder. 

Among people with a possible psychiatric disorder in Northern Ireland: 

  • Most have smoked at some time in their lives (60%)  
  • A third currently smoke  
  • Most wanted to stop smoking and had tried to stop in the past.

A review of tobacco strategy documents in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales found that: 

  • Most strategies wanted to see measures put in place to stop smoking from causing so much disease and death among people with mental ill health  
  • People with mental ill health were not always getting the same support to stop smoking  
  • Stopping smoking can help people improve mental health, but not a lot of people knew that, or found it believable
  • No region had set a target for reducing smoking among people with mental ill-health  
  • Training people who work in the mental health service on how to support people stop smoking was the most common form of service investment 
  • Communications approaches were developing to ensure the stop smoking supports were accessible, appropriate and welcoming for people with mental ill health. 


Useful contacts and resources 

For advice and support on stopping smoking in Northern Ireland - 

If you have a mental health difficulty, advice on supports is available at: 

Smoking cessation and mental health – a briefing for front-line staff (HSE) 

Findings from the first national conversation on smoking, mental health and recovery (HSE) 


Other IPH work on tobacco and mental health 

World No Tobacco Day 2023 blog -Tobacco and Mental Health – Untangling the relationship and identifying opportunities to progress policy  

Presentation at the European Conference on Tobacco or Health 2023 

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