Press Release

When a smoker successfully quits, everyone wins – Minister Corcoran Kennedy

HIQA Health Technology Assessment of smoking cessation interventions published

Minister Marcella Corcoran Kennedy said today (Monday) that when a smoker successfully quits, everyone wins. The Minister was speaking as she welcomed the publication of the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) Health Technology Assessment (HTA) of smoking cessation interventions. The report found that all interventions are effective at helping people quit smoking, and are cost-effective when compared with unassisted quitting.

As part of the Government’s tobacco policy, “Tobacco Free Ireland”, the Department of Health requested HIQA to undertake a HTA of the clinical and cost-effectiveness of pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical smoking cessation products and services.

Welcoming the assessment, Minister Corcoran Kennedy said “There are over 850,000 smokers in Ireland, and most of them want to quit. The sad reality is that unless they do then one in every two will be killed by a tobacco related disease. Most of those who try to quit do so on their own, without accessing evidence based methods, and unfortunately many of these quit attempts end in failure. We know that interventions to help people quit smoking work.”

“This assessment by HIQA is a key piece of work and I want to commend them, their Expert Advisory Group and all of those who made submissions in the public consultation process. This study provides the evidence for the development of national clinical guidelines on smoking cessation interventions, which my Department and the HSE are engaged in. It will also inform policy decisions about potential improvements to the provision of smoking cessation services in the public health service”.

Minister Corcoran Kennedy said; ” We have a responsibility to ensure that when we encourage smokers to make that quit attempt, our health services provide them with the best possible chances of success. When a smoker successfully quits, the smoker wins, their family and friends win, their community wins and the health services win.”

The HTA, as well as dealing with the broad population of smokers, also provides advice in relation to pregnant women who smoke and smokers with mental health problems.

Minister Corcoran Kennedy said, ”We need to recognise that not all smokers are the same. Pregnant women who smoke and want to quit cannot benefit from some of the medications that the general population can avail of because of their pregnancy. Hence it is vitally important that our maternity services provide the necessary psychological supports for quitting, as set out in the National Maternity Strategy. We also need to pay special attention to those smokers using our mental health services. High intensity interventions combining the use of medications and behavioural support have been shown to improve quit outcomes. Smoking cessation needs to become an integral part of their care plans.”

The report is available from the HIQA website here

Note to editors

  • Smoking kills at least 1 in every 2 smokers in Ireland. This translates to just under 6,000 deaths annual from tobacco related diseases.
  • The current smoking prevalence is 23%, daily 19% and occasional or less than daily 4%
  • Given the higher risk of disease and death in smokers, the economic cost of smoking in Ireland is substantial. In 2013, the estimated cost to the healthcare system was over €460 million, the cost of lost productivity was over €1 billion, and the cost of loss of welfare was over €9 billion. Smoking cessation substantially reduces the risk of developing most of the smoking-related diseases and reduces the risk of death.
  • The Government’s tobacco policy, Tobacco Free Ireland sets out a suite of measures to reduce smoking prevalence in Ireland. One of the recommendations in that policy is as follows: “Examine evidence (national and international) regarding outcomes of the use of NRT and other approaches.”
  • The Department of Health requested the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) to undertake a health technology assessment (HTA) of the clinical and cost-effectiveness of pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical smoking cessation products and services.
  • Health technology assessment (HTA) is a multidisciplinary research process that collects and summarises information about a health technology. The information can cover a range of fields, including clinical effectiveness and safety, cost-effectiveness and budget impact, organisational and social aspects, and ethical and legal issues. The information is collected and presented in a systematic, unbiased and transparent manner.