Almost one in five Irish people smoke, but more than 80 per cent of smokers intend quitting – with more than half saying they plan to do so in the next three months – according to a recent survey.
An Ipsos MRBI survey of 1,000 people aged 15 or over, carried out on behalf of the Irish Cancer Society, found 19 per cent of those surveyed were smokers.
However, 81 per cent of that cohort said they planned to give up smoking in the future, with 57 per cent of those who wish to quit saying they planned to do so within the next three months.
The main reason given by smokers planning to quit was concern for their future health, an incentive cited by 71 per cent of smokers surveyed.
The expense of tobacco was the second most frequently cited reason with 31 per cent of smokers saying that cost was a factor in their decision to give up tobacco.
When broadened to include non-smokers, the survey found that 62 per cent of respondents were in favour of a price increase on cigarettes although, unsurprisingly, current smokers were significantly less likely to support a price hike.
The wider survey found that almost two-thirds, or 64 per cent, of respondents were in favour of the introduction of plain packaging.
A Bill on the introduction of plain packaging – which, if passed, will mean all tobacco packaging will be a uniform "dark, drab brown" colour, while brand names will have a uniform typeface, size and colour – is currently before the Dáíl. It has been strongly resisted by the tobacco industry which claims that it will make it easier for criminals to produce counterfeit products.
Yesterday, the Irish Tobacco Manufacturers’ Advisory Committee released the results of a study carried out for it by market research company MS Intelligence, which examined discarded tobacco packaging in 22 Irish towns and suburbs to ascertain whether Irish taxes had been paid on the products.
It found that a third of tobacco packaging discarded in three areas – Leixlip, Ennis and Tallaght – came from “non-Irish duty paid” products which encompasses tobacco produced legally in other counties and brought into Ireland either through legal means or through smuggling as well as counterfeit product.
An average of 28.3 per cent of packaging – discarded on the street or disposed of in public bins collected in two separate two-week periods in the second and fourth quarters of 2013 – was “non-Irish duty paid”, according to the study.
A spokesman for the manufacturers’ advisory committee said tobacco control measures including the proposed plain packaging Bill were not addressing the “big problem . . . the ease of access to and availability of illegal tobacco”.
Speaking in the Dáil in January, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said an annual survey undertaken for Revenue by Ipsos MRBI in 2012 found 13 per cent of cigarettes consumed in Ireland were illicit.
He said the survey methodology, unlike other methodologies such as empty-pack surveys, distinguished between legal personal imports and illicit cigarettes.