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Tougher Smoking Laws can Reduce Suicide Risk

Update Date: Jul 19, 2014 10:16 AM EDT

Smoking is one of the top leading causes of preventable deaths. Not only is smoking tied to several health conditions, it has also been linked to increasing suicide risk. In a new study, researchers analyzed the effects of enforcing tougher anti-smoking laws. They discovered that these laws could help reduce people's suicide risk.

"Our analysis showed that each dollar increase in cigarette taxes was associated with a 10 percent decrease in suicide risk," study leader Richard Grucza, associate professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said in a university news release reported by HealthDay. "Indoor smoking bans also were associated with risk reductions."

For this study, the researchers examined the suicide rates in the United States from 1990 to 2004. The team noted during this time frame, certain states had enforced tough anti-smoking laws, whereas others did not. The researchers discovered that states that placed higher taxes on cigarettes and created laws that limited public smoking had lower suicide rates. These rates dropped by up to 15 percent when compared to the national average. In the states that did not do much to discourage smoking, their suicide rates spiked by up to six percent relative to the national average.

"If you're not a smoker, or not likely ever to become a smoker, then your suicide risk shouldn't be influenced by tobacco policies," Grucza said. "So the fact that we saw this influence among people who likely were smokers provides additional support for our idea that smoking itself is linked to suicide, rather than some other factor related to policy."

The researchers stated that even though they did not find a cause and effect relationship, the findings suggest that smoking and suicide are strongly linked. Previous research has also linked smoking to other mental health conditions, such a anxiety and depression.

"There's a lot of research coming out in the neurobiological literature that suggests that smoking could cause anxiety or depression," Grucza said according to FOX News. "We already know that psychiatric patients tend to smoke more, so it could be a kind of a vicious cycle, where people with psychiatric disorders smoke to make themselves feel better in the short term, but in the long term, it ends up making their symptoms worse."

The study was published in the journal, Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

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