Data released by Ireland’s Department of Health from the Healthy Ireland Survey 2021 has indicated that smoking rates have risen from 17% to 18% over the last two years. Commenting on the figures, Vape Business Ireland (VBI) said that this increase in smoking rates could be attributed to continued dismissal of proven harm reduction options like vaping, adding that this is first-hand evidence that the State’s strategy to achieve a Tobacco Free Ireland by 2025 is failing.

VBI National Spokesperson, Eoin O’Boyle, said that this data contrasts with figures from the UK, where tobacco harm reduction (THR) has been fully embraced. “Today’s results represent a significant blow to the Government’s ambition of a tobacco free society by 2025. The likely failure to meet this target can be partially attributed to continued dismissal of proven harm reduction options like vaping by our public health bodies. This is in direct contrast to the UK where smoking rates have been in long run decline, a trend supported by a pragmatic approach of adopting and promoting vaping as a less harmful alternative to smoked tobacco.”

“While it’s encouraging to see 44% of smokers attempt to quit last year, only one in four quit attempts were successful. This must call into question the effectiveness of supports and the information, or lack of, on all options available to those trying to move away from smoking. If more extensive public information on all proven harm reduction options including vaping was provided by our health bodies, it would go long way to help increase the number successful quit attempts achieved,” added O’Boyle.

The 2021 Healthy Ireland Survey

VBI summarized the 2021 Healthy Ireland Survey findings as follows:

  • “4% of the population currently use vaping products, down 1% on the 2019 figure.
  • 6% of current smokers and 3% of non-smokers in the population vape.
  • Among the non-smokers, vaping products are used by 10% of ex-smokers and less than 1% of those who have never smoked.
  • 18% who tried to quit smoking in the last twelve months used vaping during this quit attempt.”

Tobacco prices

Earlier this year, an increase in cigarette prices equating to an extra 50c per packet was announced as part of the country’s budget for 2022. The Journal highlighted that this is the sixth year in a row that the duty on a packet of 20 cigarettes has increased by that amount, and this latest increase will equate to a pack now costing a staggering €15.

Ireland’s Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe said that this price increase aims to discourage smoking and therefore support local public health policy goals. However, the Irish Heart Foundation had argued that the increase falls short of tackling tobacco use among young adults.The group had previously suggested a price increase of up to €20 by 2025, which would be achievable by a €2 hike this year, while with regards to vaping products, they believe that an excise tax of 6c on e-liquids would be appropriate.

The tobacco and nicotine bill

Meanwhile, the recent Public Health (Tobacco and Nicotine Inhaling Products) Bill, proposed a ban on the sales of tobacco products from temporary premises, at events or locations intended for children and also forbid the sales of tobacco or nicotine inhaling products by people under 18. During discussions related to the ban, Siobhain Brophy from the Tobacco & Alcohol Control Unit told the Oireachtas (or legislature of Ireland) Health Committee that since 38% of people who try to quit smoking use e-cigarettes, banning them would have negative consequences.

Northern Ireland Bans Smoking in Cars with Children

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