No Smoking Day 2021: Tobacco use still Ireland’s biggest chronic public health issue

Respiratory Medicine.

Smoking still Ireland’s biggest chronic public health issue

On National No Smoking Day, the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland Policy Group on Tobacco say that as we emerge from the pandemic and attention moves back to chronic public health issues, there are a number of important issues which need to be addressed regarding tobacco smoking in Ireland.

In an  article for Hospital Professional News penned for World Cancer Day on 4 February this year, Professor Des Cox, Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine and Chair of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland Policy Group on Tobacco, analysed tobacco control in Ireland. He found that despite a decline in current smokers in Ireland from 23% in 2015 to 17% in 2019, smoking is still clearly the biggest chronic health issue in Ireland. 

Speaking today, Professor Cox said: ”On National No Smoking Day, it’s important to highlight that tobacco smoking is one of the few modifiable risk factors for severe COVID-19 infection. Smokers are more prone to developing COVID-19 infection and its severe complications so we should strongly encourage all smokers to quit.”

“While we have made much progress in tobacco control in this country in recent years, the toll of tobacco related deaths, disease and disability is still unacceptably high. Supporting a tobacco free Ireland, the RCPI Policy Group on Tobacco advocates that in order to stamp out tobacco addiction in the aftermath of the pandemic, we need sustained commitment not just from the health services and health professionals but also from government and many elements of civil society.”

Ash Wednesday (17 February 2021) is National No Smoking Day, traditionally a day when people who smoke quit. The HSE’s QUIT service has found that, once again this year, many smokers plan on following this tradition and has some top tips for people who want to ditch the cigarettes for good.

Further reading and helpful resources:

The RCPI Policy Group On Tobacco

HSE Quit Smoking Service

St James Smoking Cessation Clinic

Key Facts on Smoking from the WHO

Article: Professor Des Cox: ‘Tobacco Control in Ireland – The Current Situation’, Hospital Professional News 4 Feb 2021