lhsi writes "A recent publication on the British Medical Journal finds that stopping smoking improves mental health: "Change in mental health after smoking cessation: systematic review and meta-analysis" (CC BY-NC 3.0).
A lot of smokers claim that smoking has mental health benefits; reducing depression and anxiety, and for relaxation and relieving stress. However the study suggests this is likely mis-attributing the ability of cigarettes to abolish nicotine withdrawal as a beneficial effect on mental health. The study notes that some health professionals are reluctant to recommend stopping smoking as a way to help mental health problems due to the fear that it might make things worse, but this study suggests that it actually would help.
The main conclusion of the study:
Smoking cessation is associated with reduced depression, anxiety, and stress and improved positive mood and quality of life compared with continuing to smoke. The effect size seems as large for those with psychiatric disorders as those without. The effect sizes are equal or larger than those of antidepressant treatment for mood and anxiety disorders."
However, It has been shown that smoking a tobacco pipe has stress lowering effects as well as BP lowering effects. Please don't lump us pipe smokers in with the cig crowd. Taking the time to stop and smoke a pipe is one of the most therapeutic and stress reducing things I have done. I don't plan to quit any time soon.
As a former pipe smoker, it's more of a relax-after-work activity than regular cigarette smoker experience, which is sprinkled throughout the day. So culturally, it's different, it's set-aside time that by itself is relaxing.