Reilly calls for packet of 20 cigarettes to cost €20

Minister for Health unveils his latest move in the war on tobacco

Minister for Health James Reilly attending the first Healthy Ireland Coucil meeting in Dublin Castle on Thursday. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Minister for Health James Reilly attending the first Healthy Ireland Coucil meeting in Dublin Castle on Thursday. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Minister for Health James Reilly has called for the price of cigarettes to be increased to €1 each or €20 a pack, more than twice the current price.

Unveiling his latest move in the war on tobacco, Dr Reilly said this would ensure that people “think long and hard before they drag long and hard”.

A pack of 20 cigarettes costs about €9.40, according to the Irish Tobacco Manufacturers Advisory Committee.

Addressing the inaugural meeting of the Health Ireland Council, he reiterated his aim to cut smoking rates to under 5 per cent by 2025. Currently, 22 per cent of the population smoke, down from 29 per cent a decade earlier when the smoking ban was introduced.

Dr Reilly also hinted at a ban on junk foods in vending machines used by young people, and said he was “well disposed” to a tax on drinks to which sugar has been added. “We’ve got to make the right things to do, the easy thing to do” in relation to healthy eating, he said.

The director general of the World Health Organisation, Margaret Chan, congratulated Dr Reilly and the Government on its “courageous” tobacco-control policies. “We will do everything possible to support your efforts,” Dr Chan said, specifically referring to the impending legislation on plain packaging for cigarette packets. The tobacco industry, which is expected to mount a legal challenge to the proposed measure, would offer determined and ruthless opposition, she warned.