Data recently 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.

The 2021 Healthy Ireland Survey findings were 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.”

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.”

The Tobacco Free Ireland Programme

Meanwhile in response to these stalled smoking cessation rates, the HSE has launched its quit-smoking campaign for 2023. The HSE Public Health medicine lead with the Tobacco Free Ireland Programme, Dr Paul Kavanagh, said that smoking continues to cause harm on a huge scale. “Each week, almost 100 people die and 1,000 people are hospitalised because of smoking-related disease.”

He added that quitting smoking is the single most crucial thing one can do to improve their health. “It’s important we recognise that smoking is an addiction, not a choice,” he said. “And like any addiction, it can be very hard to overcome and start to take back control without the right support.”

Ireland: Continued Dismissal of THR is Maintaining High Smoking Rates 

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