Action on Smoking

The tobacco crisis

Since the workplace smoking ban in 2004, Ireland has led European countries in adopting anti-smoking legislation. The efforts of successive governments mean that the smoking rate is Ireland has fallen from 29% to 22%. However, smoking is still the largest cause of preventable death and disease in Ireland, killing half of all lifetime users so we still have a lot of work left to do. We are particularly concerned that poorer people and young women are smoking more than any other group.

Facts about tobacco:

  • Tobacco is the single largest cause of preventable death and disease in Ireland, killing half of all lifetime users.
  • 5,200 people in Ireland die from smoking related illness each year. That means that 14 people a day die because of smoking each day.
  • 70% of smokers want to quit.
  • 3% reduction of the smoking rate would result in annual healthcare savings relating to lung cancer, chronic heart disease, stroke and COPD of€2.2 million by 2020 and €4.5 million by 2030.
  • Smoking causes a third of all cancers and 9 out of 10 lung cancers.
  • Treating a smoking addiction is cost-negative: it costs the State €1 billion a year to provide services to smokers;
  • We won’t tackle cancer if we don’t tackle smoking.

Smoking is a crisis that needs to be addressed now.

Recommendations for a National Tobacco Strategy

  • Current services for quitters must be provided under one central, national body.
  • We need to keep tobacco prices high.
  • Reimbursement for treatments that help people quit should be increased.
  • Healthcare professionals should be trained to help people quit.
  • The general public should be educated through mass media campaigns.
  • The Tobacco Control Framework (HSE) needs targets to treat dependence and provide support service for quitters.
  • Ireland has ratified the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). We need to use the guidelines contained in Article 14 to meet our obligations under the Framework.
  • New legislation that includes tough penalties for tobacco smuggling in Ireland is urgently required.

Plain or standardised packaging in Ireland

Did you know that the tobacco industry’s biggest growth area is amongst children?

Find out  how a new law introducing plain packaging into Ireland will protect children's health.

Find out more

Making Ireland smoke-free

We work to reduce the number of people who smoke in Ireland. This is how we do it.

The Irish Cancer Society is a force of change, presenting new ways to encourage and support people who are ready to quit smoking and to prevent people from ever starting.

We do this by working with politicians to develop ground-breaking laws to bring the smoking rate down. We also provide help and advice to smokers through the National Smokers Quitline. We believe that tough legislation while supporting smokers in their quit attempts, go hand in hand.

Our recent tobacco advocacy campaigns have focussed on:

  • The price of tobacco products
  • Controlling smuggled cigarettes through Irish borders
  • The workplace smoking ban
  • Abolishing the sale of cigarettes in 10-packs
  • Graphic warnings on cigarettes
  • Banning smoking in cars
  • Supporting people to quit smoking
  • Reducing the number of young people who smoke
  • Deglamourising smoking

We know that 70% of smokers want to quit. Our role is to make it easier for them by thinking of new ideas, new legislation and new approaches that will help them make this quit attempt, a successful quit attempt.

Get involved

To find out how you can get involved in the fight against tobacco, contact the Irish Cancer Society Advocacy team on or on 01 231 0500.