Policies implemented to reduce smoking can also help lower suicide rates, a new study shows.

The research shows that the states with high cigarette tax and stringent policies have lower suicide rates. According to the study, these states showed a 15 percent decline in suicide rate.

Earlier studies have shown that smokers have higher suicide rates. This might be because people with psychiatric disorders tend to be smokers and this population generally has higher suicide rates.

Smoking“Higher taxes and more restrictive smoking policies are well-known ways of getting people to smoke less. So it set a natural experiment, which shows that the states with more aggressive policies also had lower rates of smoking. The next thing we wanted to learn was whether those states experienced any changes in suicide rates, relative to the states that didn’t implement these policies as aggressively,” lead study author Richard A Grucza, PhD, explained in a press release.

Nicotine in cigarettes is addictive. An average cigarette yields about 1 mg of absorbed nicotine. And excessive nicotine also leads to depression or anxiety.

The study noted that during the period of 1990 to 2004 there was a tremendous decline in suicide rates in the states that imposed a strict ban on smoking in public places and increased taxes on tobacco.

“Our analysis showed that each dollar increase in cigarette taxes was associated with a 10 percent decrease in suicide risk,” Grucza said. “Indoor smoking bans also were associated with risk reductions.”

“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,” said Grucza

The findings are published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

This article first appeared on Science World Report on 22 July 2014.


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