Individuals with mental health concerns are disproportionately affected by and suffer the negative consequences of tobacco use disorder, perhaps because smoking has historically been part of psychiatry's culture. In the early 1990s, psychiatric inpatient facilities were exempted from U.S. hospital smoking bans, in response to public outcry with national media attention. Almost 2 decades later, the current study characterizes online conversation about psychiatric hospital smoking bans. Previous commenting studies have demonstrated commenting's negativity, documenting the "nasty effect" wherein negative comments color perceptions of neutral articles. Thus, we focused particular attention on cited barriers to implementing health-positive smoke-free policies.We collected online comments (N = 261) responding to popular media articles on smoking bans in inpatient psychiatry between 2013 and 2014 and conducted an inductive and exploratory qualitative content analysis.Verifying previous studies documenting the prevalence of negative commenting, of the comments explicitly supporting or refuting psychiatry smoking bans, there were over twice as many con comments (n = 44) than pro (n = 18). Many commenters argued for access to outdoor smoking areas and warned of patient agitation and risk posed to care workers. Identified content themes included psychiatric medication and negative side effects, broken mental health systems and institutions, denigration of the health risks of tobacco in the context of mental illness, typical pro-smoking arguments about "smokers' rights" and alternatives (including e-cigarettes), addiction, and stigma.The current findings provide a platform to begin to understand how people talk about mental health issues and smoking. Our analysis also raised complex issues concerning forces that impact U.S. patients with serious mental illness but over which they have little control, including medication, the U.S. health system, stigma, perceptions that life with chronic serious mental illness is not worth living, and psychological and physical pain of coping with mental illness. In consideration of identified barriers raised in opposition to smoking bans in inpatient psychiatry, efforts should emphasize patient stakeholder involvement; patient, visitor, and staff protection from smoke exposure; the effectiveness of nicotine replacement for managing withdrawal; and the lack of evidence that cigarettes are therapeutic.
View details for DOI 10.1080/15504263.2014.961883
View details for Web of Science ID 000343988600005
View details for PubMedID 25391278
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4408924