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Higher cigarette taxes lower risk of suicide, says study

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Besides cigarette smokers being addicted to the habit, new studies signify that they are more prone to suicide attempts, too.

The study credited this to the reality that those persons with psychiatric disorders and have higher rates of suicides are likely smokers as well.

The Washington University School of Medicine, however, has a new research that found smoking itself may boost the risk of suicide. It likewise found that policies that limit smoking may minimize the rates of suicide.

“Our analysis showed that each dollar increase in cigarette taxes was associated with a 10 percent decrease in suicide risk,” associate professor of psychiatry Richard Grucza, PhD, says in a statement.

The study shows that, as compared to national average, suicide rates decreased up to 15 percent in states implementing higher cigarette taxes and stricter policies in public smoking.

“States started raising their cigarette taxes, first as a way to raise revenue but then also as a way to improve public health,” says Grucza.

Otherwise, states with lower taxes on cigarettes and lax policies on public smoking have increased suicide rates of up to six percent as based on the same period.

The average suicide rate yearly from 1990 to 2004 was around 14 deaths per 100,000 people.

Nicotine may significantly influence the risk of suicide, also says Grucza.

“Like any other addicting drug, people start using nicotine to feel good, but eventually they need it to feel normal. And as with other drugs, that chronic use can contribute to depression or anxiety, and that could help to explain the link to suicide,” he says.

For years now, scientists have always known that smokers have higher risks of suicide, but they thought this was associated to psychiatric disorders affecting several smokers. The new findings of Grucza’s team, however, claim smoking itself may enhance the risk for developing psychiatric disorders, or possibly make the condition far more severe, hence influencing risk of suicide.

“We really need to look more closely at the effects of smoking and nicotine, not only on physical health but on mental health, too,” tells Grucza, noting that the numbers in their study
clearly show that smoking does something.

Grucza also assumes that if states increase their taxes on cigarettes and impose restrictions on public smoking, the rates of suicide would likely fall.

Titled Probing the Smoking–Suicide Association: Do Smoking Policy Interventions Affect Suicide Risk?, the study was published by the Nicotine & Tobacco Research journal.

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