Press Release

Minister Brady announces publication of detailed research on smoking patterns in Ireland

Ms Áine Brady T.D. Minister for Older People and Health Promotion, today (Tuesday 16th June, 2009) announced the publication of a further analysis of the data from SLÁN 07 (National Survey of Lifestyle, Attitudes and Nutrition) entitled “Smoking Patterns in Ireland: Implications for policy and services”. This Report, prepared by the Division of Population Health Sciences in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, provides a detailed picture of tobacco use in Ireland.

Almost half of all respondents had smoked cigarettes at some point in their lives and 29% reported being current smokers. Smoking was more common among younger adults.

“The findings in this Report demonstrate the scale of the challenge presented by tobacco use in Ireland. Smoking is responsible for over 6,500 deaths each year and it is of great concern that 35% of those aged 18-29 continue to smoke.” Minister Brady said.

There are opportunities for targeting smoking cessation interventions according to Professor Ruairí Brugha of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. “The 23% of men and 16% of women in Ireland who have quit smoking mean that a lot of future disease and death has been averted. Almost three quarters (72%) of smokers had attended a GP in the previous year, while only 38% of smokers reported that a ‘doctor or health professional’ had discussed ways of giving up smoking with them. It is important that health service providers are supported to use every opportunity to encourage people to stop smoking.” Professor Brugha said.

Read the Smoking Patterns in Ireland Report.

Professor Ruairí Brugha, Division of Population Health Sciences, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland is available to take queries from the media in relation to the Report. Professor Brugha can be contacted at rbrugha@rcsi.ie

  • This report, which was commissioned by the Department of Health and Children, is part of a series based on the main SLÁN 2007 survey which was carried out by a research consortium involving NUI, Galway, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, the Economic and Social Research Institute, and University College Cork. It involved face-to-face interviews with a nationally representative sample of 10,364 respondents.
  • Almost half of all respondents (to SLÁN 07) had smoked cigarettes at some point in their lives and 29% reported being current smokers. Smoking was more common among younger adults.
  • Overall, rates of smoking decreased from 33% in 1998 to 27% in 2002, with similar rates of reduction for men and women, across all ages and all social class groups. There was no significant change in smoking rates between 2002 and 2007 (29%).
  • While more men than women smoked in 2007 (31% compared to 27%), more men than women had succeeded in quitting (23% compared to 16%). Lung cancer incidence rates continue to increase in women, while beginning to fall among men.
  • Women were more likely than men to fear negative consequences of quitting smoking, such as gaining weight.
  • A recent survey of Irish children aged 9-17 years showed a widening gap between 15-17 year-old boys and girls: girls were more likely to smoke than their male counterparts of similar age and this was apparent across social classes.
  • On the subject of giving up smoking, 9% of smokers were actively trying to quit; 17% were planning to quit; 33% were thinking about quitting but had no plans; and 41% were not thinking of quitting. Younger respondents and those in higher social class groups were most likely to have attempted to quit in the last year.
  • Most respondents had some rules in their homes about smoking.
  • Three-quarters of smokers and non-smokers had attended a GP in the previous year. Only 38% of current smokers who attended a GP or other health professional in the last year reported that the professional had discussed quitting smoking with them during the consultation.
  • There was a strong association between negative mental health and smoking. Those who smoked were 2-3 times more likely than those who did not smoke to report psychological distress or to be assessed as having a generalised anxiety disorder.