Okay, not everyone should smoke. It isn't good for your lungs, that's for sure. However, if you have a brain based disorder (mental illness), be it the result of genetics or injury, smoking is one of the best patient administered treatments available for increasing healthy brain functioning. A recent Yale University study confirmed:
Persons with mental health issues smoke two to three times more than smokers without mental health issues. When study subjects stopped smoking, attention and short–term memory were more impaired. When they started smoking again, their cognitive function improved. Nicotine increases alertness, and this may enhance concentration, thinking and learning.
Bottom line: nicotine can be of significant value to people with mental health issues or brain based disorders, or individuals whose medication leads to cognitive problems.
* Nicotine can help relaxation, and it can also reduce negative feelings such as anxiety, tension and anger. So smoking may help people with mental illness deal with stressful situations.
* Nicotine might have an antidepressant effect. Nicotine stimulates dopamine production in part of the brain and so may help negative symptoms of schizophrenia, such as lack of motivation, lack of energy and flat mood.
* Nicotine may reduce hallucinations for a short period.
* There is some evidence to suggest that smoking is associated with reduced levels of antipsychotic induced Parkinsonism.
* Smoking can help to relieve boredom and provide a framework for the day.
* Smoking can improve social interaction, something that may be of particular benefit to people with negative symptoms improved. No effects from stopping or resuming smoking were observed in smokers without mental illness.
As you can imagine, the well-intentioned efforts to curtail smoking have become a patient’s rights issue for people with certain brain based illnesses or conditions, especially in facilities where NO SMOKING is mandated by State or Federal law. In their zeal to "protect people" from the dangers of smoking, anti-tobacco enthusiasts are making lives worse for those millions of people whose lives are made better by sitting back, lighting up, and enjoying the fine flavor of fine tobaccos.