The dangers of cigarette smoking are well recognised, and a number of public health measures designed to reduce the level of smoking have been introduced over the past 20 years. These measures have been fairly successful, and there has been a steady decline in the prevalence of cigarette smoking in the UK over the period 1972–1988 (Office of Population Censuses and Surveys, 1990). A number of studies have shown a higher prevalence of cigarette smoking among psychiatric patients (Hughes et al, 1986); however, the majority of these have been of highly selected populations, or have failed to control for factors such as age, sex, socioeconomic status and alcohol abuse, all of which are known to affect the prevalence of smoking. This study compared the prevalence of cigarette smoking among a heterogeneous group of psychiatric out-patients with that of the general population with control for these confounding variables.
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