A survey shows the number of smokers has dropped by an estimated 165,000 over the last five years.
The findings are contained in the latest Healthy Ireland Survey from the Department of Health. The survey shows that 17% of the population are smokers, down from 23% in 2015, a small but significant drop.
The study also appears to justify the decision to force tobacco manufacturers to introduce plain packaging as one in four smokers of the 7,500 surveyed said the plain packaging with health warnings that was introduced last year had encouraged them to stop.
That’s the good news, but the not so good news is that smoking rates among the 25 to 34 age group remain highest. They are also high among people who are unemployed or living in deprived areas. In addition, 9% of parents who participated in the survey smoke.
Health Minister Simon Harris was quick to take credit for the good news, declaring: “This shows that our multi-pronged approach, with legislation, support for smoking cessation, and policies to denormalise smoking in our society, is bearing fruit and we are heading in the right direction to being a tobacco-free Ireland.”
Credit must be given for the drop in overall numbers but the fact that we are rearing another generation of smokers means we still have a long way to go.