PEOPLE with mental illness are three times more likely to smoke, and experts say not enough is being done to help this vulnerable group quit.Surely it would be better for the sufferers and the community as a whole if more money was put into funding the treatment of mental illness up to and including building full-time residential facilities.
A new Access Economics report shows almost 1.3 million Australians with a mental illness are smokers, costing $33 billion a year.
SANE Australia, which commissioned the report, is calling for urgent action to introduce quit smoking programs and supports for people with a mental illness.
Executive director Barbara Hocking said smokers with a mental illness paid about $2.8 billion every year in tobacco taxes, but there was little evidence of equitable funding and few programs to help the large numbers who wanted to quit.
"Smoking is a huge physical and financial burden for people with a mental illness and our research has shown very clearly how much it's costing us to do nothing," Ms Hocking said.
"While quit programs have successfully reduced smoking rates generally, people with a mental illness have been largely ignored - with a few notable exceptions - despite evidence they respond well to targeted campaigns."