Survey shows smoking up since 2002


Smoking rates have increased since 2002 despite the introduction of the smoking ban in public places, according to a study published today.

The number of people who said they were smokers fell from 33 per cent in 1998 to 27 per cent in 2002 but increased to 29 per cent last year, according to the Survey of Lifestyle, Attitudes and Nutrition (SLÁN) in Ireland, published by the Department of Health.

Younger people were more likely to smoke (35 per cent of those aged 18-29 years), as were those in lower social class groups and almost one in 10 smokers were actively trying to quit. Some 41 per cent were not planning to quit, according to the survey.

Most respondents to the survey (82 per cent) had some rules about smoking in their own homes – 59 per cent did not allow smoking anywhere inside their home, with an additional 23 per cent said smoking was allowed only in certain places or at certain times.

Smoking in public places and work areas was banned by the Government in 2004.

Twenty two per cent of respondents to the survey, conducted last year, said they were “physically inactive”. “Physically active” is defined as taking exercise or sport two or three times a week for 20 or more minutes at a time or engaging in more general activities, such as walking, cycling or dancing, four or five times per week accumulating to at least 30 minutes per day.

More than half the respondents (55 per cent) reported being physically active, with 49 per cent having been physically active for more than 6 months. Almost one-quarter (24 per cent) reported some activity but not at the level great enough to be considered “physically active”.

Of the physically inactive respondents, less than half (41 per cent) were thinking about becoming physically active in the next 6 months.

The document said it was a major concern that there was the overconsumption of foods high in fat, sugar and salt. The majority of respondents (86 per cent) consumed more than three daily servings of these types of foods.

Since 1998, the percentage of respondents consuming the recommended 6 or more daily servings of cereals, breads and potatoes has decreased, from 40 per cent to 36 per cent in 2002 and to 26 per cent last year.

Since 2002, there has also been a decrease in the percentage of respondents consuming the recommended three daily servings of milk, cheese and yoghurt products, from 22 per cent in 1998, to 23 per cent in 2002 and 20 per cent in 2007.

However, the percentage of respondents consuming at least four daily servings of fruit and vegetables has increased from 56 per cent in 1998 to 68 per cent in 2002 and to 77 per cent in 2007.

The survey is the third such study, having previously been conducted in 1998 and 2002. Slán 2007, published today, follows on from the two previous surveys which used postal questionnaires – in 1998, involving 6,539 respondents with a 62 per cent response rate, and in 2002, involving 5,992 respondents with a 53 per cent response rate. This year’s survey involved 10,364 respondents with a 62 per cent response rate.