There are an estimated 80,000 fewer smokers in Ireland today then there were three years ago, the latest findings from the Healthy Ireland survey have found.
According to the results, prevalence of smoking has fallen from 23% in 2015 to 20% in 2018 - that is an estimated 80,000 people.
In the last 12 months, 40% of smokers have made an attempt to quit., while 23% of smokers said that they found the new plain packaging with health warnings as a good motivation to quit.
However, smoking prevalence did tend to be higher in poorer areas. Some 26% of people smoked in deprived areas compared to 16% in more affluent areas.
When it came to alcohol, 37% of drinkers said that they binge drink on a typical drinking occasion. Like smoking, binge drinking prevalence tended to be higher in poorer areas, with 43% in these areas more likely to binge drink compared to 33% in more affluent areas.
Some 8% of drinkers admitted that they have failed to do what was expected of them because of their drinking.
Meanwhile people in poorer areas are also more likely to have a long-standing illness (33%) compared to those in more affluent areas (24%).
"It is very obvious that some groups in our society still have a greater risk of poor health. We need to find better ways of reaching out to these people and helping them to live healthier lives," commented the Minister of State for Health Promotion, Catherine Byrne, at the launch of the findings.
The Healthy Ireland surveys began in 2015 and these latest findings are based on interviews with over 7,000 people aged 15 and older, who were surveyed between September 2017 and June 2018.
Other key findings include:
-74% of people have visited a GP in the last 12 months, while 8% have used an out-of-hours GP service
-10% have used an Emergency Department in a public hospital
-25% received the flu vaccine during the previous winter. This figure increased to 66% among those over the age of 65 years
15% of young people under between 15 and 24 consume sugar sweetened drinks on a daily basis
-47% have visited a dentist in the last 12 months.
"The data from Healthy Ireland surveys are being used to underpin policy development and implementation, to monitor, measure and evaluate progress in implementing various elements of the Healthy Ireland Framework, as well as to meet many international reporting obligations, including to the OECD, the EU and the WHO," the Department of Health stated.