Home > Decline in adolescent smoking in Ireland and associated factors.

Millar, Sean (2018) Decline in adolescent smoking in Ireland and associated factors. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 67, Autumn 2018, p. 9.

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Policies designed to discourage adolescents from smoking have been at the forefront of tobacco prevention in recent years. In Ireland, the Tobacco free Ireland report of 2013 stated that the protection of children must be prioritised with regard to initiatives outlined in the policy.1 A number of studies have been conducted regarding interventions for preventing adolescent smoking, including research evaluating policies to restrict access and raise awareness of risk. While some studies have examined perceptions of risk and its association with smoking, other studies have investigated correlates in the domestic and social sphere. These include associations with parental monitoring, relationships with parents, family structure, truancy from school, and peer smoking.


A recent Irish study examined trends in smoking among Irish adolescents aged 15–16 years between 1995 and 2015 and factors associated with smoking behaviours.2 In this research, published in the journal BMJ Open, data were obtained from Irish waves of the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD). Multivariate logistic regression was performed to examine the factors associated with smoking behaviour. Smoking behaviour was defined as having smoked in the last 30 days. Independent variables examined included gender, survey years, perceived ease of access to cigarettes, perceived risk of smoking, perceived relative wealth, parental monitoring, maternal relationship, family structure, truancy, and peer smoking.


The study found that smoking prevalence among adolescents has dropped from 41% in 1995 to 13% in 2015. The prevalence was much higher among girls than boys in 1995 (44.9% vs 36.7, p<0.001). However, this gender gap was closed by 2015 (12.8% for females and 13.1% for males). Odds ratios from multivariate regression results demonstrated that peer smoking (18.9, 95% CI: 11.4–31.2), perceived access to cigarettes (1.4, 95% CI: 1.0–2.1), perceived risks of smoking (1.9, 95% CI: 1.6–2.3), parental monitoring (3.2, 95% CI: 2.3–4.6), truancy (2.8, 95% CI: 1.9–4.1), maternal relationship (1.8, 95% CI: 1.4–2.4), perceived relative wealth (1.3, 95% CI: 1.0–1.7), and family structure (1.6, 95% CI: 1.1–2.2) were all significantly associated with adolescent smoking, with some of the factors having different effects for female and male students.


The authors concluded that Ireland has successfully achieved a considerable decrease in adolescent smoking from 1995 to 2015. Further improvement might be attained through strengthening enforcement of adolescent access to cigarettes and maintaining a high-intensity tobacco control media campaign. Parents could also contribute by enhancing monitoring.


1  Department of Health (2013) Tobacco free Ireland: report of the Tobacco Policy Review Group. Dublin: Department of Health. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/20655/

2  Li S, Keogan S, Taylor K and Clancy L (2018) Decline of adolescent smoking in Ireland 1995–2015: trend analysis and associated factors. BMJ Open 8(4): e020708. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/28946/

Item Type
Publication Type
Drug Type
Tobacco / Nicotine
Intervention Type
Harm reduction, Screening / Assessment
Issue Title
Issue 67, Autumn 2018
November 2018
Page Range
p. 9
Health Research Board
Issue 67, Autumn 2018

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