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News / May 6, 2008

Cigarette smoking on the rise

by Guy Hiscott

Despite the ban on smoking in public places, the National Health and Lifestyle Survey (SLÁN) reports that there has been an increase in the number of smokers between 2002 and 2007.

In 1998, rates were at 33%, decreasing to 27% in 2002 but then increasing to 29% by 2007.

Professor Hannah McGee of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, who was part of the research team, said the increase was not statistically significant but it was disappointing that the reductions between the first and second SLÁN surveys had not continued.

She said: ‘We are delighted as a cross-institutional team to deliver SLÁN 2007, the largest national health and lifestyle survey of adults undertaken in Ireland to date. It builds on two previous surveys to provide a profile of health since 1998. While many of the findings provide sombre reading, they give vital direction for policy and service developments in the coming decade.’

The Minister for Health Promotion and Food Safety, Mr Pat The Cope Gallagher TD, said: ‘The SLÁN 2007 study provides invaluable data for policy development and programme planning on a range of lifestyle-related health behaviours in the Irish population. More importantly, SLÁN 2007 allows us to identify trends and monitor changes in population behaviours, thus better informing our priority-setting decisions at national level. While people make their own lifestyle choices, it is only through more and better information that we can better understand the health behaviours of the population and provide the necessary advice and support to them.’

SLÁN 07, which is the third in a series of lifestyle and behaviour studies of the Irish population, was commissioned by the Department of Health and Children and was carried out by a consortium involving the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, the Economic and Social Research Institute, University College Cork and the National University of Ireland Galway. The study involved face-to-face interviews with 10,364 adults along with a sub-study on body size of 967 younger adults (18-44 years old) and a more detailed physical examination of 1,207 adults aged 45 and over.