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Public and environmental health
Tobacco Free Ireland is an Irish Government policy which demands that the prevalence of tobacco smoking in Ireland be less than 5% by 2025. From 1995 to 2015, teen smoking decreased from 41% in 1995 to 13.1 % in 2015, and SimSmoke modelling suggested that the 5% 2025 target was achievable in that group (1). But, in 2019, current smoking (smoked in the past 30 days) increased overall from 13.1% in 2015 to 14.4% in 2019, with the increase being greater in boys than girls (16.2%) vs (12.8% ) (2). This threatens the Tobacco Free Ireland endgame and we drew on data from two waves (2015 and 2019) of the Irish ESPAD (European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs) to analyse the use of tobacco products by teenagers and offer an explanation for the change.
Descriptive statistics were used to show differences in sample characteristics from the two waves of the survey (2015 and 2019). Adjusted incidence risk ratios (IRR, 95% confidence intervals (CI)) for current smoking were estimated using a Poisson regression analysis and are shown for all respondents and, separately, by gender, with p-value of less than 0.05 considered statistically significant. All statistical analysis was conducted using STATA version 16, presented in Table 1.
We saw an increase in current cigarette smoking associated with an increasing use of e-cigarettes. Other associated factors did not deteriorate between 2015 and 2019, and access to cigarettes was perceived to have become more difficult during that period. We suggest that our findings highlight the negative impact that increased youth e-cigarette use had on current teenage cigarette smoking. We further suggest that this increase in e-cigarette use by teens poses a threat to the Tobacco Free Ireland policy goal of a smoking prevalence less than 5% by 2025 (1).
Sunday S, Hanafin J, Clancy L. Increased smoking and e-cigarette use among Irish teenagers: A new threat to Tobacco Free Ireland 2025. ERJ Open Res 2021; DOI: 10.1183/23120541.00438-2021
Department of Health, RCDHT Grant 184