Smoking – Health and Economic Costs – Professor Colin Mendelsohn

Posted on: June 13, 2019
Last Updated: August 24, 2020

Professor Colin Mendelsohn is a Tobacco Treatment Specialist. He helps smokers to quit smoking, teaches health professionals, writes articles on smoking and is involved in a range of other smoking-related projects. He teaches medical and Masters students  at the University of New South Wales. He is also a visiting lecturer at the University of Technology (UTS). He is also the chairman of the health promotion charity, Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association (ATHRA) and has published many articles in peer-reviewed medical journals.

Author Quotes: 

The sort of patients we are talking about, with addiction problems and mental health issues are generally more heavily addicted; they smoke more heavily and they have low to very low quit rates.

We’re not necessarily trying to stop nicotine, a lot of people are worried about nicotine, they want a nicotine-free society and that’s their motivation…we’re always going to have people using drugs, we have to accept that. Let’s at least put them on the drug that is relatively harmless and take away the poisons.

We know that if they quit smoking, it not only improves their chance of dealing with their substance use disorder, but it also improves their mental health.

Summary and slides:  

Professor Mendelsohn begins this first part of his presentation with a look at smoking within the drug, alcohol, and mental health population.  

He discusses the problem of the cost of smoking, especially as many people are on fixed incomes and the cost of smoking is a major cause of financial stress. Moving on, he discusses the topic of less harmful alternatives to smoking for people who are either unwilling or unable to quit the habit successfully. The only two organisations in Australia who support vaping are RANZCP and the Drug and Alcohol Nurses of Australasia. 

He goes on to discuss a recent RCT which showed vaping to be nearly twice as effective as nicotine replacement therapy in patients (N=886).  

Concluding part 1 of this presentation, Prof Mendelsohn discusses the evidence now available to support the use of e-cigarettes in helping people to quit smoking. 

Take-home Points: 

  • Patients are more likely to die from their smoking habit, than from their drug, alcohol, or mental health problem. 
  • Quitting smoking should be an integral part of the treatment of addiction and mental health problems. 
  • Vaping is the most popular method of quitting smoking because it replicates the habit which no other treatment does. 


Learn more

  1. Smoking – Research Studies and Risks Associated With Vaping – Prof Colin Mendelsohn