OBJECTIVE: To analyze the prevalence of cigarette smoking in individuals with severe mental illnesses in a large urban centre of a middle income country. METHODS: Cross-sectional study carried out in São Paulo. The sample (N=192) comprised individuals diagnosed with severe mental illnesses who had contact with public psychiatric care services from September to November 1997 and were aged between 18 and 65 years. Prevalence of daily tobacco smoking in the 12 months previous to the interview and characteristics associated were studied. RESULTS: Out of 192 subjects with severe mental illnesses interviewed, 115 (59.9%; 95% CI: 52.6%; 66.9%) reported smoking cigarettes on a daily basis. Male gender, marital status separated or widowed, irregular use of neuroleptic drugs and history of ten or more psychiatric admissions were independently associated with cigarette smoking. CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of cigarette smoking in the present sample was higher than that found in the general Brazilian population. Mental care services should implement non-smoking policies and mental health providers need to help patients with severe mental illness who want to quit smoking.
Mentally ill persons; Diagnosis, dual; Mental disorders; Tobacco use disorder; Mental health services; Cross-sectional studies