More smokers now than before 2004 ban
MORE PEOPLE are smoking now than before the ban on smoking in public places was introduced six years ago, the Dáil has heard.
Minister of State for Health Áine Brady pointed to figures showing that 29 per cent of the population smoked despite the ban, the abolition of packs of fewer than 20 cigarettes, the ending of in-store displays and advertising, and the cost of cigarettes, which at € 8.55 a pack “are the highest in the world”.
However, Fine Gael health spokesman Dr James Reilly said the 29 per cent was 2 per cent more than those who smoked before the ban was introduced in 2004. Referring to figures from the Irish Cancer Society, he said: “Tobacco kills more people in Ireland than road accidents, suicide, drugs, farm accidents and Aids combined. It causes 30 per cent of all cancers, including 95 per cent of all lung cancers”.
He criticised the Minister for failing to implement legislation passed 18 months ago to “print pictorial warnings on cigarette packets to help smokers visualise tobacco-related illnesses”.
Ms Brady said there was a legal difficulty with the warnings which had not yet been resolved.
They were both speaking as the Dáil passed the Public Health (Tobacco) (Amendment) Bill, introduced to allow for the amalgamation of the Office of Tobacco Control into the HSE.
Jimmy Deenihan (FG, Kerry North) noted with alarm the number of young girls smoking. “Unless there is a proactive and aggressive approach in our primary and post-primary schools to point out the physical and mental health effects of smoking, we will continue to lose the battle.”
Labour health spokeswoman Jan O’Sullivan said young people were not concerned with “cardiovascular or any other type of disease”, but “they might think about effects such as smelly breath or cost.
“These issues are more likely to sway young people. The emphasis in advertising should be on these areas.”
Sinn Féin health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin described tobacco smuggling as a “huge and growing problem” and anyone involved, whether “criminal bosses or people selling cigarettes from their homes to young people, must be condemned.
“They should be made accountable under the law.”
Maureen O’Sullivan (Ind, Dublin Central) noted that “in Australia, following the imposition of a 25 per cent increase in the price of cigarettes in April 2010, statistics showed that the prevalence of smoking fell considerably”.