Cigarette Smoking Prevalence in Ireland

Smoking in Ireland 2014: Synopsis of Key Patterns and Trends

Smoking in Ireland 2015: Summary

 Smoking in Ireland 2016: Half year update


The HSE monitors cigarette smoking prevalence and behaviour (monthly up to March 2016, now quarterly) to gain a detailed picture of smoking patterns in Ireland and to identify trends in this pattern. This information is useful for informing policy decisions. The data are compiled from a monthly quota survey conducted on Ipsos MRBI's Omnipoll, a telephone omnibus survey.  The data consist of a collection of 1,000 respondents per month from July 2002 to date. The research is conducted among Irish adults aged 15 years and over. The data are weighted by gender, age, social class and region.

Cigarette smoking prevalence is analysed under a number of demographic classifications to further our understanding of smoking behaviour. Cigarette consumption data is also presented. Smoking prevalence rates and smoker demographic characteristics are presented as 12 month averages in order to provide more stable estimates. Trends over time are presented as 12 month moving averages in order to give a better picture of the underlying trend. Minor discrepancies between prevalence figures and trend figures reflect these different methods of calculation.

Note: Tracker has changed to a quarterly survey since March 2016

Methodological Changes to Survey

Prior to May 2008, the Ipsos MRBI telephone omnipoll was conducted with respondents via landline telephone numbers only. From May 2008 the data collection methodology was updated to reflect changing demographics and telephone usage patterns in Ireland. The sample population is now drawn from a combination of both landline and mobile phone numbers. While the questionnaire and quota controls are unchanged, some population subgroups that may previously have been difficult to contact are now better represented in the sample.

This change in sampling method resulted in an increase in prevalence (of about 3%) from May 2008 on. The pre-May 2008 data have therefore been re-calibrated* to allow for trend analysis, with the caveat that calibration may not restore strict comparability. The prevalence rates presented prior to May 2008 therefore differ from those previously published with respect to magnitude (but not trend pattern).

*Technical note

To re-calibrate the trend data, the data were seasonally adjusted and then the six months of data prior to the change were compared with six months of data after the change in order to isolate the impact of the change in methodology. The smoking prevalence figures prior to May 2008 were subsequently adjusted accordingly, on the assumption that the change in sampling approach was the only difference in smoking prevalence between the two 6 month periods.


Cigarette Smoking Prevalence: Refers to self reported use of cigarettes in the population (based on the proportion of survey respondents who answer yes to the question: "Do you smoke one or more cigarettes each week, whether packaged or roll your own?")

Weighted Data: Quota controls on the sample are set to ensure each demographic group is interviewed in proportion to its representation in the overall population. When quotas are underachieved or overachieved, weightings are applied to align the sample's final demographic profile with that of the overall population.

12 month moving average trend: The 12 month moving average is used for showing trends over time in order to provide more stable rates and to give a clearer representation of the underlying trend. It is calculated for each month by getting the average of the data value for that month together with the previous 11 months' data values, and so on. This process smoothes out the trend line by removing 'noise' (large month to month fluctuations).


Social Class Categorisation

A Professional people, very senior managers in business and commerce, or top-level civil servants

B Middle management executives in large organizations; Principal Officers in local government and civil service; top management or owners of small business concerns, education and service establishments

C1 Junior management, owners of small establishments and all others in non- manual positions

C2 All skilled manual workers and those manual workers with responsibility for other people

D All semi skilled and unskilled manual workers

E All those entirely dependent on the state long-term; those unemployed for period exceeding 6 months

F Farmers or farm managers

(Source: AIMRO Standard Guide for Social Class)


Smoking in Ireland 2013: Synopsis of Key Patterns and Trends


Back to Top