Smoking death toll nearly 6,000 this year, campaigners claim

Almost 6,000 people died from smoking this year in Ireland, campaigners said.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Ireland called on people to consider quitting in the new year.

Overall, the number of smokers has fallen but ASH said 5,900 tobacco users died in 2016.

Dr Patrick Doorley, chairman of ASH Ireland, said: "The new year is a good time for people to consider quitting smoking and I encourage them to do so. Many people quit for good at this time each year.

"For most people they will make a number of attempts before finally quitting - so I would encourage those who have tried before to try again."

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said close to 6 million people will die worldwide because of smoking this year, with 600,000 of those being victims of passive smoking.

ASH Ireland says a 20-a-day smoker spends just over 4,000 euro on cigarettes each year.

Dr Doorley added: "The overall cost of smoking in Irish society is also quite significant; costing the state well over €1.6bn annually, with €506m spent on direct healthcare costs. Quitting is all positive - there are no downsides.

"As nicotine is addictive smokers must be determined to quit - and thousands of people manage to do so each year."

In Ireland, a law covering the plain packaging of tobacco products is due to be completed in the new year.

The campaign chief added: "It is vitally important that the Government then push ahead and get the plain packs on the shelves as a matter of urgency."

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