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Doctors Are Split On Cigarettes' Place In Psychiatric Hospitals

Adults with mental health disorders smoke about 1 in 3 cigarettes in the U.S. Some doctors argue tobacco-free psychiatric hospitals might help.
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Doctors Are Split On Cigarettes' Place In Psychiatric Hospitals

You can't smoke cigarettes in or around most hospitals, but people can still light up at about 1 in 5 U.S. psychiatric facilities.

Smoking and mental health are intrinsically linked. People with mental health problems are 70 percent more likely to pick up smoking and smoke almost a third of all cigarettes in the U.S.

Medical professionals are split on whether to enforce smoke-free policies in psychiatric hospitals. Some worry patients may not be able to quit and would pick up the habit again when discharged. Others claim patients could get aggressive if they can't smoke.

But research shows facilities that go tobacco-free usually see less verbal and physical aggression from inpatients.

And psychiatric patients want to quit smoking just as much as anyone. Being hospitalized in a smoke-free environment also increases the chance that someone stays off cigarettes.

In the meantime, more psychiatric hospitals are implementing smoke-free policies. While about 60 percent of public facilities allowed some kind of smoking in 2006, that number dropped to 21 percent by 2011.