The role of cigarette smoking in epilepsy severity and epilepsy-related quality of life

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Epilepsy and Behavior






Cigarettes; Epilepsy; Quality of life; Seizures; Smoking


Empirical evidence suggests that cigarette smoking is common among individuals with epilepsy. However, little is known about relationship between smoking and clinical features of epilepsy. Thus, the aim of the current study was to examine the differences between smokers (n = 43; 58.1% female, M = 43.4 years, SD = 11.6) and nonsmokers (n = 49; 63.3% female, M = 48.5 years, SD = 15.9) with epilepsy in terms of epilepsy severity (i.e., presence of seizures in the past year, refractory epilepsy status) and epilepsy-related quality of life. As hypothesized, smokers with epilepsy, compared with nonsmokers with epilepsy, were at an increased risk to have experienced seizures in the past year after controlling for the effect of Medicaid status as a proxy for socioeconomic status (odds ratio [OR] = 3.61). Positive smoking status was also associated with lower levels of epilepsy-related quality of life; however, this finding did not remain significant when Medicaid status was taken into consideration. Contrary to the hypotheses, smokers with epilepsy were not at an increased risk of having refractory epilepsy compared with nonsmokers with epilepsy. These findings suggest that cigarette smoking is associated with at least one aspect of epilepsy severity. Thus, in addition to the broader health benefits, smokers with epilepsy should be advised of the increased seizure risk associated with current cigarette smoking. Future work should examine the longitudinal impact of smoking on epilepsy severity, including whether successful smoking cessation ameliorates the seizure risk found in this cross-sectional study. age age