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Home > Adult smoking in Ireland: findings from the Healthy Ireland Survey and the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing.

Millar, Sean (2018) Adult smoking in Ireland: findings from the Healthy Ireland Survey and the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 67, Autumn 2018, p. 8.

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Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in Ireland, with over 100 people dying from diseases caused by tobacco use each week; this represents almost one in five of all deaths.1 The Health Service Executive (HSE) has recently published a report detailing findings from an Irish study that examined smoking behaviours in Ireland among adults aged 15+ using data from the Healthy Ireland Survey and The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA).2 Key findings from the report are discussed below.


Characteristics of adults who smoke in Ireland

It was found that one in five Irish adults smoke daily, which equates to approximately 714,000 current adult smokers in Ireland. The highest prevalence of current smoking was among 25–34-year-olds. Male subjects were more likely to smoke and to have begun smoking at an earlier age than females. Individuals who were current smokers were also more likely to be single, unemployed or in a routine manual occupation.


The impact of smoking on health and wellbeing

Results from both surveys showed that people who smoke are more likely to self-report poor health – both poorer physical health and mental health. The prevalence of smoking-related chronic diseases was found to be highest among ex-smokers. In addition, among all people who smoke, the prevalence of these diseases was related to the amount smoked. It was also found that survey participants who smoke experience limitations in activities of daily living as a result of their smoking, particularly in later life and that, again, the prevalence of limitations is related to the amount smoked. The study also found that people who smoke are more likely to utilise healthcare services, at all ages.


Intention to quit smoking and smoking cessation

Encouragingly, results from the surveys indicate that two in three people who smoke wish to quit smoking. Odds ratios showed that factors associated with wishing to give up smoking included being under the age of 35 (1.6, 95% CI: 1.3–2.0), being married (1.3, 95% CI: 1.0–1.5), having a tertiary-level education (1.6, 95% CI: 1.1–2.4), and having an occupation of a non-routine/non-manual nature (1.3, 95% CI: 1.0–1.6). Almost one-half of those attempting to quit smoking used willpower alone; e-cigarettes and nicotine products were the most common methods among those who used smoking cessation aids. Similar to subjects who demonstrated an intention to give up smoking, successful quitters were also more likely to be young, educated to levels higher than primary level, and to have occupations of a non-routine/non-manual nature.



The authors concluded that the study provides a better understanding of the demographic factors independently associated with current smoking and that this might enable policymakers to adopt more targeted approaches to combat smoking. In addition, the study provides keen insights into the factors associated with quitting and remaining smoke-free. The HSE will consider these results in the context of its State of tobacco control3 report to better understand the challenges and priorities for its Programme Plan 2018–2021. 


1  Department of Health (2013) Tobacco free Ireland: report of the Tobacco Policy Review Group. Dublin: Department of Health.

2  Sheridan A, O’Farrell A, Evans D and Kavanagh P (2018) Adult smoking in Ireland: a special analysis of the Healthy Ireland Survey and The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA). Dublin: Health Service Executive.

3  Health Service Executive (2018) The state of tobacco control in Ireland: HSE Tobacco Free Ireland Programme, 2018. Dublin: Health Service Executive.

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Tobacco / Nicotine
Intervention Type
Screening / Assessment
Issue Title
Issue 67, Autumn 2018
November 2018
Page Range
p. 8
Health Research Board
Issue 67, Autumn 2018

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