The study, published today in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, says despite smoking halving among Australia's general population over the past 20 years there has been little change in smoking rates among people with psychiatric disabilities.
Study author Kristen Moeller-Saxone from the University of Melbourne's Melbourne School of Population Health, says smoking rates remain high even though three quarters of those involved in the study said they wanted to quit or cut down on cigarettes.
Moeller-Saxone's study surveyed 280 clients of a psychiatric support service - most of whom had schizophrenia - in Melbourne's northern suburbs.
It found that found that more than six in 10 (or 62 per cent) of those surveyed smoked, compared to fewer than two in 10 (16 per cent) members of the general population.
It also found that smokers with mental illness consumed 50 per cent more cigarettes a day than the general population, averaging 22 cigarettes a day; the heaviest smokers in the group smoked up to 80 cigarettes in a day.
Almost three in five (59 per cent) said they wanted to quit smoking, the study found.
One in 10 (12 per cent) had successfully given up smoking; and smokers with mental illness were almost three times more likely to consume illegal tobacco.