22% of Irish people are still smoking, report finds

The annual tobacco free Ireland report indicates that 22% of Irish people are still smoking.

The aim is to have a smoking rate of only 5% by 2025, which would effectively mean Ireland is smoke-free.

The latest initiative is standardised packaging, which came into force at the end of September making us the first EU country to do this.

Catherine Byrne, Minister for health promotion says people need to take health issues on board.

She said: "We are making a real effort this time, to identify with the people smoking, the effects on their health and above all the reality that people are smoking and people need to take the heatlh issues on board."

32,000 people have stopped smoking in the past year and Minister Byrne says the aim with the standardised packaging is to make the health warnings stand out more.

Over 5,000 people die every year from smoking related diseases in Ireland, while around €500m is pumped into treating these diseases.

Minister Byrne says many measures are needed but standardised packaging is the first step.

She said: "I think it is the beginning of a new era in the country around identifying the harm smoke causes to many of our citizens."

Any old packing on the market will be phased out within the year.

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