Home » Blogs » Mental Health Humor » Smoking and Mental Illness: Will E-cigarettes Save Lives?

Smoking and Mental Illness: Will E-cigarettes Save Lives?

t2013 Mental Health Humor stop smoking by Chato Stewart Cartoon

I love drawing the Mental health Humor Cartoons. They always bring me joy and many times I get to touch on some very serious subjects in a rather humorous light.  Well, that is why I, Chato Stewart, started the cartoon series in 2008 during my stay at Charlotte Behavioral Health Care (CBHC) Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU).  Now five years later, I’m helping the CBHC as a “Consumer Peer Ambassador“.

“Every year, smoking kills about 200,000 people who live with mental illness.”* – NAMI

My feeling about the e-cigarettes is just like my Mental Health Humor Cartoon. If it can help smokers kick the habit and quit smoking, GREAT!  But if it is just trading one type of puff for another type of puff that is actually still harmful with nicotine vapor….It’s like trading shooting up crack for free-basing it or snorting it or injecting it or what ever, you get the point. It’s just a different way to get a harmful drug in your system.  With so many Mental Health Peers addicted to smoking (nicotine), with those of us living with *schizophrenia or bipolar disorder leading the pack of chain smokers, I would first commend You that you want to quit smoking – second: do your research on the E-cigarettes. The data show we need to find a way to get more “people with serious mental illness” to quite smoking.  Is the E-cigarette the answer?

Chato Stewart
Consumer Peer Ambassador

The Data

“[Those with] schizophrenia often smoke before the onset of symptoms and that they smoke more often and inhale more deeply than smokers without schizophrenia.”* – NAMI

Data see:  Adults with Mental Illness Smoke One-Third of Cigarettes in U.S.


Heaviest Smokers

People with significant mental illness smoke at much higher rates than the general population, but their addiction has long been a low priority among doctors.

  • 44% of cigarettes in the U.S. are smoked by people with a serious mental illness.
  • 75% of smokers have a past or current problem with mental illness or addiction.
  • 25 years—People with serious mental illness die that much sooner, on average, than the general population, mainly due to smoking-related illnesses.
  • 27%—The percentage of an average monthly budget spent on cigarettes by people on public assistance.
  • 1.5%—The proportion of patients seeing an outpatient psychiatrist who receive treatment for tobacco addiction.

Sources: JAMA; National Comorbidity Study; National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors; Tobacco Control; American Journal of Addiction


Smoking and Mental Illness: Will E-cigarettes Save Lives?

Chato Stewart

Chato Stewart has a mission, to draw and use humor as a positive tool to live, to cope with the debilitating effects symptoms of mental illness. Chato Stewart is a Mental Health Hero and Advocate. Recovery Peer Specialist board-certified in Florida. Chato is the artist behind the cartoons series Mental Health Humor, Over-Medicated, and The Family Stew - seen here in his blog posts. The cartoons are drawn from his personal experience of living with bipolar disorder (and other labels).

17 comments: View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Stewart, C. (2019). Smoking and Mental Illness: Will E-cigarettes Save Lives?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 19, 2019, from


Last updated: 28 Mar 2019
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.