OBJECTIVES: The study examines trends in smoking among Irish adolescents aged 15-16 years between 1995 and 2015 and the factors associated with their smoking behaviours between 2007 and 2015.
METHODS: Data were obtained from the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs Ireland between 1995 and 2015. To examine the gender gap, two-sample proportion tests were used. Multivariate logistic regression was performed to examine the factors associated with smoking behaviours. Dependent variable is whether a respondent is a smoker in last 30 days. Independent variables include gender, survey years, perceived ease of access to cigarettes, perceived risk of smoking, perceived relative wealth, parental monitoring, maternal relationship, family structure, truancy and peer smoking.
RESULTS: Smoking prevalence has dropped from 41% in 1995 to 13% in 2015. The prevalence was much higher among girls than boys in 1995. The gender gap was closed by 2015. Multivariate regression results show that peer smoking, perceived access to cigarettes, perceived risks of smoking, parental monitoring, truancy, maternal relationship, perceived relative wealth and family structure were all significantly associated with adolescent smoking, and some of the factors had different effects for female and male students.
CONCLUSION: Ireland has successfully achieved a considerable decrease of adolescent smoking from 1995 to 2015, during which various tobacco control policies have been implemented. In addition, the gender gap on adolescent smoking has been closed during the period. Adolescent smoking could be further improved through strengthening enforcement on adolescent access to cigarettes and maintaining a high-intensity tobacco control media campaign targeting adolescents. Parents could also contribute by enhancing monitoring.