Young people highest users of e-cigarettes

By June Shannon Policy News   |   5th Dec 2022

Healthy Ireland Survey 2022 shows smoking prevalence remains unchanged

Young people under the age of 25 are more likely to use e-cigarettes than any other age group, the latest Healthy Ireland Survey has found.

According to the results of the 2022 Healthy Ireland Survey, usage of e-cigarettes is highest among those aged under 25 with 6 per cent in this age group currently using them. This compares to 3 per cent of the general population reporting to have used e-cigarettes, with a further 3 per cent reporting have tried them in the past but no longer using them.

Overall, the results found that smoking prevalence remains unchanged since the 2021 survey with 18 per cent of the population being current smokers, 14 per cent smoke daily and 4 per cent smoke occasionally.

The survey also found that 25- to 34-year-olds are the age group most likely to smoke, as was the case in all survey waves between 2015 and 2019.

Commenting on the results Mark Murphy, Advocacy Officer with the Irish Heart Foundation said, “unfortunately, we have seen yet another year of no further progress in reducing the rate of smoking among the general population, meaning that nearly 1 in 5 people nationwide continue to smoke. What’s most worrying however is that we have seen a significant jump since last year in smoking among 25-34-year-olds. Evidently, we cannot continue on our current trajectory and the government needs to do much more to deter initiation and support those already smoking to quit.”

“Moreover, given the gateway effect that e-cigarettes pose to eventual smoking, the fact that those under 25 years of age are the highest users of e-cigarettes is concerning. To halt and reverse these deeply alarming trends, bold measures such as increasing the legal age of sale of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21, and vastly increasing resources to cessation services, are urgently required. Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death in Ireland and the government must do everything in its power to protect people from the harmful dangers of smoking,” he added.

" The fact that those under 25 years of age are the highest users of e-cigarettes is concerning."

Mark Murphy, Advocacy Officer , The Irish Heart Foundation

The 2022 survey also found that 67 per cent of people have consumed alcohol in the previous six months, an increase of 1 per cent since 2021. Those aged 15-34 were most likely to have consumed alcohol in the last six months.

According to the results, 32 per cent of those who consumed alcohol in the previous 6 months were considered binge drinkers. This is higher than was measured in 2021 (22%) but remains behind the levels of binge drinking measured in 2018 (37%). This means that 22 per cent of the population (aged 15+) are categorised as binge drinkers, compared with 20 per cent in 2021, and 28 per cent in 2018.

Commenting on the survey findings, the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Breda Smyth, said, “I would really encourage smokers to visit the HSE’s Quit website for advice and support for quitting smoking. Similarly, the HSE’s Ask About Alcohol website has lots of helpful information and resources for anyone concerned about alcohol and other drugs, including advice for parents on how to raise these topics with their children.”

The Healthy Ireland survey is run on an annual basis  and gives an up-to-date picture of the health of the nation and reports on many lifestyle behaviours, including smoking, alcohol consumption, weight, oral health and utilisation of health services. It is funded by the Department of Health and conducted by Ipsos.

The 2022 Healthy Ireland survey is the seventh set of findings from the survey and adds to the data collected in the previous surveys published from 2015 – 2021. A representative sample of 7,455 people aged 15 and older living in Ireland were interviewed between November 2021 and July 2022.

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