The number of Irish people who smoke is still quite high, according to a consultant in public health medicine.

Dr Paul Kavanagh, who is an adviser to the HSE’s Quit programme, said more than one in five people aged 15 or over in Ireland are smokers.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he said this figure increases to one in three of 25 to 34-year-olds.

Dr Kavanagh welcomed the fact that there had been a reduction in the number of smokers in Ireland compared to 20 years ago, when one in three people smoked, but said the numbers are still quite high.

"There's about half a million quit attempts in Ireland each year, and unfortunately one in two people go it alone, they go cold turkey", he said.

"The HSE were able to offer free, accessible and effective support services across the country. They're available online, over the telephone and face-to-face.

"Those services work compared with going cold turkey. People who use those services can increase their odds of becoming smoke free by twofold."

Dr Kavanagh said people who use medication to support their quit attempt, something such as a stop smoking medication or nicotine replacement therapy, can increase their odds of becoming smoke free by three to fourfold.

He acknowledged that nicotine replacement therapy is a lot more expensive in the Republic of Ireland than it is in Northern Ireland.

However, he said that someone who is smoking 10-20 cigarettes a day is spending around €2,000-€4,000 a year, so the investment upfront in something like nicotine replacement increases their likelihood of becoming smoke-free and saving money long-term.