People with Intellectual Disabilities Particularly Vulnerable to Effects of Tobacco Use

June 6, 2009

While tobacco use is an ongoing health hazard for the entire population, its consequences for people with developmental or intellectual disabilities can be especially severe. And the medical community often tends to overlook the tobacco-related burdens these people face. An extensive review of published research on this topic appears in the June edition of the journal Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

“This is too important an issue to ignore,” said Dr. Marc L. Steinberg, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and the article’s lead author. “Health care professionals often do not ask these individuals about tobacco use or exposure.” Steinberg and his co-authors report that they were able to identify several negative implications of tobacco use that are unique to this population group:

• People with developmental or intellectual disabilities are three times more likely to live in poverty, making them more susceptible to financial distress from tobacco use.
• Tobacco use may decrease the effectiveness of some medications commonly prescribed to this population group.
• Ironically, many of these individuals became addicted to tobacco at the hands of the very institutions that are meant to help them. In the past, hospitals and facilities treating vulnerable populations have even given cigarettes as good behavior ‘rewards’ to mentally ill patients and to those with developmental or intellectual disabilities.
• On the rare occasions when individuals in this population gain access to tobacco treatment programs, they still may “fall through the cracks” because they have difficulty understanding the health information presented to them.

“Like any other patients, this population should be offered resources for quitting if they smoke and offered protection from environmental smoke if they do not,” said Steinberg.

UMDNJ is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,700 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Annually, there are more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/ Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a statewide mental health and addiction services network.

Source: UMDNJ

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Number of older people with four or more diseases will double by 2035, say researchers

January 23, 2018
A study published today in Age and Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society, reports that the number of older people diagnosed with four or more diseases will double between 2015 and 2035. A third ...

Placental accumulation of flame retardant chemical alters serotonin production in rats

January 22, 2018
A North Carolina State University-led research team has shown a connection between exposure to a widely used flame retardant chemical mixture and disruption of normal placental function in rats, leading to altered production ...

Marijuana use does not lower chances of getting pregnant

January 22, 2018
Marijuana use—by either men or women—does not appear to lower a couple's chances of getting pregnant, according to a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers.

Group suggests pushing age of adolescence to 24

January 22, 2018
A small group of researchers with the Royal Children's Hospital in Australia is suggesting that it might be time to change the span of years that define adolescence—from the current 10 to 19 to a proposed 10 to 24 years ...

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

TheTim
3 / 5 (4) Jun 06, 2009
Could've just shortened the headline by putting:

"Idiots more likely to smoke."
Doug_Huffman
1 / 5 (1) Jun 07, 2009
I think that the article is about the cause-effect arrow of disabilities and tobacco use and got it wrong. Tobacco use does not cause idiots but idiots use tobacco

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.