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."
After I quit smoking, I found that the greatest immediately obvious benefit was the money that was no longer literally going up in smoke (1 pack/day is over $2k/year). Food tastes better, but that's a mixed blessing if you don't have enough will power left over from quitting, to avoid overeating. I miss smoking from time to time, but not enough to start it up again. For those considering giving it up, I'll say that for me, cold turkey wasn't nearly as bad as I'd been led to expect.