Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has today (Wednesday) said that the upcoming Budget presents an opportunity to assist smokers to quit.
“For many, the battle to quit smoking is something they grapple with all year around. New Year, birthdays and Budget time are all milestones throughout the year when smokers regularly make a pact with themselves to give up smoking.
“Giving up, especially after years of smoking, poses a significant challenge. A considerable amount of willpower is required, as is a dramatic change in habit. This ensures the best chance of success. To assist those who are attempting to make this positive change, proper support systems need to be in place. Initiatives such as the National Smokers’ Quitline, which is supported by the HSE, together with websites such as www.quit.ie and associated campaigns aim to educate smokers about the impact smoking is having on their lives and encourages them to quit.
“Increasing the cost of cigarettes in the upcoming Budget and investing all savings made into cessation programmes could assist hundreds in their goal to quit. There is a concern, however, that a rise in the cost of cigarettes fuels the smuggling trade which ends up costing the Exchequer in the end. Figures from the Irish Heart Foundation suggest that it is possible to increase the cost of cigarettes while, at the same time, tackling the underground trade.
“It suggests that while the cost of cigarettes in the UK rose by 77% between 2001 and 2011, the level of smuggling fell from 21% to 9% during the same time. I have written to the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan TD, to ask about the revenue that could be generated by a budgetary increase on cigarettes, which could perhaps then be ringfenced for anti-smoking campaigns and support services. I have also asked the Minister about the possibility of imposing a profit tax for tobacco companies or whether an individual sector taxation could realistically be introduced.
“Smoking is costing us dearly every year, both in real terms, as our healthcare services struggle to deal with smoking related illnesses, and in human terms, as one in every two smokers die of a tobacco related disease.”