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Between 60% and 90% of people with schizophrenia smoke, compared to 15% to 24% of the general population, the researchers noted in the report published March 16 in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research.
Smoking is the main reason for a 15- to 25-year gap in lifespan between users of mental health services and the general population, according to study author Riccardo Polosa. He is a professor of internal medicine at the University of Catania, in Italy.
"This study demonstrates that switching to high-strength nicotine e-cigarettes is a feasible highly effective smoking cessation method for smokers who have schizophrenia," Polosa said in a journal news release. "And it improves their quality of life, too."
For the study, Polosa's team assessed the effects of vaping high-strength nicotine in 40 adults with schizophrenia. All smoked traditional cigarettes and had no plans to cut back or quit.
For 12 weeks, participants used e-cigarettes loaded with 5% nicotine pods.
By the end of that time, 40% had stopped using traditional cigarettes. And nine out of 10 had a sustained 50% reduction in smoking or had quit conventional cigarettes altogether. Median cigarette use fell from 25 to six cigarettes a day. (Median means half fell more, half fell less.)
By the end of the study period, nearly 62% of participants said they felt more awake, less irritable, less hungry and better able to concentrate.
SOURCE: Nicotine & Tobacco Research, news release, March 16, 2021
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