THE Government's attempts to cut smoking rates and introduce a smoke-free Ireland have been slated this week by Independent South Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae as 'outrageous', 'idiotic' and a 'shambles'.
Deputy Healy-Rae made his comments in response to a Government proposal to increase the application charge for retailers wishing to sell tobacco products from €50 to €500.
The proposed increase, due to come into effect in 2014, is connected to the Tobacco Free Ireland project which was approved by the Government in July.
"While we would all be very grateful to see no more young people ever again start smoking, at the same time, it is idiotic of the Government to think they will preside over introducing a smoke-free Ireland at any time in the future," Deputy Healy-Rae said.
"All the Government's efforts will end up in succeeding in doing is driving the sale of tobacco and tobacco products underground, which will result in less control, further danger to the public and the loss of revenue to the State," he added.
The Independent TD called on Minister for Health Dr James Reilly to concentrate instead on promises and commitments made before entering Government.
"He is now himself presiding over a shambles, whereby this year they secretly arranged to reduce medical cards by over 40,000 without having any care or regard for what this would mean to people," he said..