Dramatic reduction in smoking by Irish teens

By June Shannon Heart News   |   4th May 2018

Smoking among 15 and 16-year olds has dropped from 41 to 13 per cent

04 May 2018

By June Shannon

A new study has found that there has been a dramatic reduction in the numbers of teenagers who smoke in Ireland.

According to the new research, smoking prevalence by 15 to 16-year olds here has dropped from 41 per cent in 1995 to 13 per cent in 2015.

For the study, researchers from TobaccoFree Research Institute Ireland analysed data from the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) Ireland.

ESPAD collected comparable data on substance use among 15 and 16-year-old students across Europe to monitor trends within and between countries, including Ireland.

ESPAD Surveys were conducted every four years between 1995 and 2015 and in this period smoking prevalence among 15 and 16-year olds in Ireland dropped from 41 per cent in 1995 to 13 per cent in 2015.

In 1995 smoking prevalence among girls was 45 per cent and in boys it was 37 per cent however the new study has found that by 2015 girls smoked less than boys at 12.8 per cent.

The gender gap on adolescent smoking which had previously seen more girls smoking, had also been closed


Predictors of smoking among school children were found to be: having friends who smoke, parents not knowing where students were on Saturday nights, easy access to cigarettes, skipping school, relationship with the mother and the perception of the risks of smoking. Whereas perceived family wealth or family structure was not significant.

The study concluded that Ireland had successfully achieved a considerable decrease in adolescent smoking from 1995 to 2015 and that the gender gap on adolescent smoking which had previously seen more girls smoking, had also been closed.

Professor Luke Clancy, Director of the Tobacco Free Research Institute Ireland said, “the role of increased efforts to highlight the risks involved in smoking and the positive role that parental involvement can make is clear from the results. Now that we have established these positive influences, we can examine ways of maximising their impact.”

"The reduction achieved represents another nail in the coffin of this vile industry"

Mr Chris Macey, Head of Advocacy , Irish Heart Foundation

“The results of this study suggest that smoking in this age group (15-16-year olds) can achieve the Tobacco Free Ireland strategy of less than 5 per cent prevalence by 2025 – if tobacco control measures continue to be enforced and strengthened. This is now the challenge facing our government and indeed wider society. Close to 6000 of our citizens die annually from tobacco related disease, we must continue to focus on reducing this dreadful statistic,” Prof Clancy added.

Welcoming the results of the study Mr Chris Macey Head of Advocacy at the Irish Heart Foundation said, “The tobacco industry’s business model relies on getting teenagers to take up smoking to replace the thousands who die each year from the habit, or those who manage to quit. The reduction achieved represents another nail in the coffin of this vile industry and shows that if we continue on the current course of strengthening tobacco control measures, Ireland can achieve its goal of becoming tobacco free.”

This study was recently published in the BMJ Open





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