People in Connacht and Ulster are least likely to be smokers
PEOPLE in Connacht and Ulster are the least likely to light up - but Dubliners smoke the most in the country, according to a new report.
The smoking rate in the west and north west is 17pc, compared to 21.6pc in Dublin and 19.8pc for Leinster as a whole.
Munster is in the middle ground with a rate of 18.9pc, less than the national figure showing 19.5pc of people over the age of 15 years who smoke.
The HSE report which tracks smoking trends, and found 70,000 quit last year, confirms that 39pc of smokers are in the lowest socio-economic groups, including the semi-skilled, unskilled and unemployed.
A nationally representative survey of 1,000 people is undertaken by Ipsos MRBI for the HSE every month to obtain data on smoking prevalence. It found:
l A higher percentage of men, 21.6pc, reported being smokers than women - 17.6pc.
l Smoking rates were highest among young adults aged 18-34 years, reaching 27.3pc in the 25-34 year old age group.
l Prevalence was lowest among the 15-17 age group at 7.9pc.
l Around 36pc of all smokers light up 11-20 cigarettes per day. Some 59.2pc describe themselves as occasional to light smokers at 10 or less cigarettes per day.
But 4.8pc are heavy smokers. They smoke more than 21 cigarettes a day.
On average smokers have 12.71 cigarettes a day. Meanwhile, overall smoking prevalence has declined from 28.28pc in June 2003 to 19.53pc in December 2014.
Since the tracker began, a higher proportion of men have smoked every year.
Male and female smoking has declined to 21.55pc and 17.59pc respectively.
Commenting on the report, the Irish Cancer Society warned that a special, targeted effort needs to be made in disadvantaged communities so that the health divide between rich and poor does not widen.
"That drop in the smoking rate tells us that everything we've done to reduce the number of smokers is working," said spokeswoman Kathleen O'Meara.
"However, we know that people from poorer communities are more likely to smoke and that smoking accounts for half the gap in life expectancy between a rich person and a poor person. Smoking has been identified as the single biggest cause of inequality in death rates.
"Therefore, when we see that the smoking rate is still much higher in disadvantaged areas, it indicates to us that more needs to be done to help people quit. For instance, the smoking rate amongst Traveller women and men was 52.5pc in 2010 and for homeless people was 90pc in 2013.
"Clearly, exceptional efforts need to be made to achieve the Governments ambitious goal of a 5pc smoking rate by 2025, particularly in disadvantaged or marginalised communities."
She pointed out that early findings from the Irish Cancer Society's 'We Can Quit' pilot programme indicate that with help available in local communities, and designed to meet their particular needs, people have more success in giving up smoking.
'We Can Quit' is an initiative of the ICS in partnership with the Northside Partnership, the Blanchardstown Area Partnership, the HSE and the National Women's Council of Ireland.
"The service offers women a supportive environment in which to overcome the barriers to quitting smoking. The free 12-week programme is group based so that women can join forces with other women as they quit together. Such initiatives hit tobacco where prevalence rates are stubbornly high."