Ireland risks missing its tobacco-free target date of 2025 by 27 years, the Health Service Executive has warned, writes John Downing for the Irish Independent. The shocking delay puts new pressure on Health Minister Simon Harris to soften his stance on e-cigarettes to help more smokers quit.
The government is committed to being "tobacco-free" – with less than 5% of the population still smokers – by 2025.
But the Health Service Executive (HSE) report says that, based on current trends, this target will not be met until 2052.
At present, 18% of Irish people smoke daily.
Smoking, which includes the effects of second-hand smoke, is deemed responsible for 100 deaths and more than 1,000 hospital episodes every week across the country.
"More of the same may not be enough to affect the step change required to move to the end game," the HSE report says.
Fine Gael's Senator Catherine Noone said the report indicated that a tobacco-free Ireland could still be decades away.
Ms Noone said the report concludes that the state should "continue to scan the horizon to understand and determine policy on the role of e-cigarettes and other new technologies and opportunities for the tobacco end game in Ireland".
She added that using e-cigarettes was "very far from ideal" but may be a "least worst option".
Ms Noone also pointed out that the Healthy Ireland programme says 37% of people who quit smoking last year used e-cigarettes.
In the UK, official statistics show smoking in England has dipped just below 15% for the first time.
[link url="https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/smokefree-ireland-still-34-years-off-as-100-die-every-week-37370531.html"]Full article on the Irish Independent site[/link]