Ireland is now a nation with more quitters than smokers

Those who gave up in January 2019 and have managed to stick to it may be able to avail of reduced life assurance premiums, say experts at Royal London. Figures released today
by the leading protection specialist reveal the substantial difference in the cost of life cover for smokers versus non-smokers, with smokers paying around twice as much for life insurance
than their non-smoking counterparts.

Colette Houton, Underwriting and Claims Lead at Royal London, explained, “Each year thousands of people throughout Ireland aim to give up smoking, with the
beginning of the New Year seen by many as the perfect time to jumpstart their health goals. Statistics from the Healthy Ireland Survey 2019* show that more and more people in the
country are trying to kick the habit. The overall number of smokers in Ireland has dropped from 23% in 2015 to 17% in 2019. The report shows that 46% of those who smoked in the 12
months before the survey made an attempt to quit, and that 25% of those attempts have been successful.

“Given that tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in Ireland each year, with almost 6,000 smokers dying per annum from tobacco related diseases**, the health benefits
of quitting can’t be understated. But there are also significant financial benefits as well. Saving the money previously spent on buying cigarettes might easily spring to mind, but the
thousands in savings that can be made on life cover might not be so obvious to a lot of people.

“Smokers who have managed to give up for more than 12 months and already have life cover in place can potentially avail of a reduction in the cost of their premiums. If you’re an ex-smoker, we recommend that you get in touch with your financial broker to see if you can avail of cheaper rates and start the New Year by saving money on your insurance policy.”

Speaking of the cost analysis, Ms Houton said, “The price differential here is quite substantial. Our experience is that, while many people expect that smokers will pay more in premiums, they don’t actually realise how much more. The Healthy Ireland Survey 2019 found that smoking rates are the highest among the 25-34 years age group – 26% of this cohort are smokers – the age at which most people take out life cover for the first time.”

Royal London says the classification of a non-smoker is based upon total abstinence from any tobacco products in the last 12 months, including the use of e-cigarettes and nicotine
replacement products, such as patches or chewing gum. There must also be an intention to continue to abstain in the future.

Ms Houton commented, “If a person wishes to be re-categorised as a non-smoker, in some cases, they could be asked to complete a cotinine test (smoker test). This is a simple test which involves screening a sample of saliva or urine for tobacco use. If you are a Royal London policyholder who stopped smoking over 12 months ago and would like to be considered for non-smoking terms, you can do so, subject to underwriting terms and conditions, by submitting a Non-Smoker Terms Form.”

Ms Houton concluded, “The number of smokers in Ireland has been decreasing overall, and it would seem that the Government’s campaigns to reduce the number of people smoking, for example through the standardisation of non-branded packaging, are having the desired effect – 25% of those surveyed in the Healthy Ireland Report agreed that the health warnings on packs have made them more motivated to quit in the past month. The HSE’s Tobacco Free Ireland Report 2018^^ contends that, assuming this current downward trend continues and all other factors remain constant, Ireland is on course to be ‘tobacco free’ by 2052, which by their definition means that less than 5% of the population use tobacco products.”

** HSE, Smoking, The Facts
^ as at 18/12/2019

Figures are the best-in-market prices. Age refers to age next birthday. Sum assured in each case €300,000.
^^ The State of Tobacco Control in Ireland: HSE Tobacco Free Ireland Programme 2018