Dramatic drop in smoking in Ireland

Nearly a 70% drop in the number of 15 and 16 year olds smoking in Ireland

Written by Grainne Jones


The rate of 15 and 16 year olds smoking has dropped by 68% since 1995, a new study has revealed.

The study that began in 1995 tracked the rate of smoking in teenagers and has noted a sharp decrease in the amount of young people smoking.

In 1995, 41% of 15 and 16 year olds in Ireland smoked, whereas the number dropped to only 13% in 2015.

Highlighting the risks of smoking

The Director of the Tobacco Free Research Institute Ireland, Professor Luke Clancy, said that the reason smoking has decreased is because of efforts to highlight the risks of smoking.

Risks of smoking

  • lung disease and cancer
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • tooth and gum problems
  • brittle bones
  • difficulty becoming pregnant or staying pregnant
  • damage to unborn babies
  • low sperm count in men

By using graphic warnings, banning smoking advertising, and having smoke-free areas, people have become less likely to begin smoking.

The use of plain packaging is also being brought in to help reduce the appeal of cigarettes.

Ireland introduced plain packaging on cigarettes in early 2018, and by September all cigarettes must be sold in plain packaging.

Young people are more likely to smoke because they have friends who do, or because of easy access to cigarettes.

Clancy said that increasing “efforts to highlight the risks involved in smoking” and having positive parental involvement, can prevent smoking in young people.

Tobacco Free Ireland

According to Professor Clancy “close to 6000 of our citizens die annually from tobacco related disease – we must continue to focus on reducing this dreadful statistic”.

In 2013, the Department of Health developed a policy called “Tobacco Free Ireland” which aimed to see less than 5% of the population smoking by 2025.

“The results of this study suggest that smoking in this age group can achieve the Tobacco Free Ireland strategy of less than 5% prevalence by 2025,” Clancy added.

More quitters than smokers

The study said that people who start to smoke at a younger age will find it harder to quit than people who begin later in life.

According to Quit.ie, over 5000 people have managed to quit smoking so far this year. There are now more quitters than smokers in Ireland.

For more information about quitting, visit Quit.ie, text QUIT to 50100, or call 1800 201 203.

Our work is supported by