Good news – smoking rates are declining

Good news – smoking rates are declining

Statistics released today in the 2016/17 Health Survey for Northern Ireland show that smoking prevalence has dropped by two percent. Meaning that the percentage of the population here who are smokers is now 20% – the lowest since the survey began in 1983.*

Colette Rogers, Strategic Lead for Tobacco Control at the Public Health Agency (PHA) said: “We, at the PHA, are delighted with this reduction in the percentage of people in Northern Ireland who smoke. Smoking is the single greatest cause of preventable illness, premature death and health inequality throughout Northern Ireland and sadly one in every two smokers will die of a tobacco-related disease so it is very encouraging to see that more people every year are successfully quitting.”

In 2015, the PHA launched the ‘One in two’ stop smoking mass media campaign. The campaign featured Gerry Collins who sadly died of lung cancer as a result of smoking. The main objectives of the campaign were to encourage smokers to make a quit attempt and to avail of the stop smoking support services that exist here.

Colette continued: “We know from our campaign evaluation that this campaign has had a very positive impact on smoking behaviour here and the latest drop in the smoking prevalence rates supports the evaluation findings. The evaluation showed that:

  • Almost one third of current smokers who were aware of the campaign tried to change their smoking behaviour as a result of the campaign with the majority trying to reduce the amount they smoked.
  • And that 23% of ex-smokers who were aware of the campaign said the campaign had encouraged them to quit and 46% saying it helped them stay quit.

“We know that stopping smoking isn’t easy and some people will make several attempts before they quit for good but it is important that they keep trying and that we keep encouraging them to do so and offering support that will help them, on their journey to becoming smoke free.

Collette added: “If you quit and then relapse, accept it, work out why it happened, and focus on how you can avoid it in the future. Different approaches will work for different people; while some might be able to do it with very little support, others find that planning ahead and making use of stop smoking support services can really help make their decision permanent.

“In Northern Ireland there are over 650 free PHA-funded stop smoking specialist services available in a variety of settings such as community pharmacies, GP surgeries and healthy living centres. Studies have found that smokers are four times more likely to succeed in quitting with help from stop smoking services than if they go it alone.”

For more information and useful tips to stop smoking, to order a quit kit or to find your local stop smoking service visit the PHA’s ‘Want 2 Stop’ website at or follow us on Facebook at