Studies show that, for people living with HIV, smoking is more harmful than HIV itself.

For World No Tobacco Day 2018, HIV Ireland encourages people living with HIV to get informed and educated about the health risks associated with smoking.

 30th May 2018

Every year, on 31st May, the World Health Organisation (WHO) marks World No Tobacco Day, highlighting the health and other risks associated with tobacco use.  The focus of World No Tobacco Day 2018 is ‘Tobacco and heart disease’.

HIV positive people are more likely to be smokers and the smoking prevalence among people living with HIV in Ireland is significantly higher than that of the general population.  35% of people living with HIV in Ireland are current smokers[1], compared with 22% current smokers in the general population[2].  In addition, 53% of HIV positive men who have sex with men (MSM) living in Ireland are current smokers.[3]

Cigarette smoking is one of the most harmful health concerns facing people with HIV today.  There have been several studies worldwide about the impact of smoking on people living with HIV.  A study in Denmark found that current smokers living with HIV had an almost three-fold increased risk of heart attack compared with smokers who do not have HIV.  Another study[4] found that smoking doubles the risk of death for people with HIV taking antiretroviral therapy.

Better treatment options have changed the long-term outlook for people with HIV.  It’s important that people living with HIV get informed and educated about other health risks that can be magnified because of HIV, even if the virus itself is under control with medication.

HIV Ireland has produced new resources and a webpage with factual evidence-based information about smoking and HIV and the health benefits of quitting.  The message on World No Tobacco Day 2018 is if you are HIV positive, and a current smoker, quitting is one of the biggest steps you can take to stay healthy and increase your life expectancy.

There is a lot of support currently available in Ireland to increase your chances of quitting successfully, and you are twice as likely to quit if you reach out and get help and support.  If you are thinking about quitting, or want to quit, visit for more information.

The Department of Health’s Tobacco Free Ireland policy document sets a target for Ireland to be tobacco free by the year 2025 (i.e. with a smoking prevalence rate of less than 5%).  On Thursday 31st May 2018 the HSE Tobacco Free Ireland Programme is holding a conference in Dublin to mobilise and empower key stakeholders at a community level to actively support the drive towards this target.  Minister Catherine Byrne, T.D. will open the conference and HIV Ireland will attend the event to highlight the need for supports for HIV positive people to help reduce the harms associated with tobacco use.

Hard-copy leaflets can be ordered through our Free Resources Service.

[1] Smoking Behaviour among People Living with HIV and AIDS: A Sub-Group Comparison; K. Babineau, S. O’Dea, G. Courtney, L. Clancy, 2014.

[2] Healthy Ireland Survey 2017: Summary of Findings. Department of Health and Ipsos MRBI, 2017.

[3] MISI 2015: findings from the men who have sex with men internet survey. Dublin: Health Protection Surveillance Centre, 2016.

[4] Helleberg M et al. Smoking and life expectancy among HIV-infected individuals on antiretroviral therapy in Europe and North America: the ART Cohort Collaboration. AIDS 28 (online edition). DOI: 10.1097/QAD.0000000000000540 (2014).