Tuesday 21 May 2019

Comment: I'd support cigarettes being hiked to €50 a pack if it stopped loved ones smoking

Stock picture
Stock picture
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

There's something very crass about showing someone you love a photo of a clogged artery in your Leaving Cert home economics book in a bid to stop them smoking.

It never worked, unfortunately, just like the graphic health warnings on the front of a box of 20 didn't either.

I've a couple of heavy smokers among my friends and family who inhale close to 80 cigarettes a day and I do a silent cheer every time fags are hiked in the Budget.

Not because I want to see them out of pocket, but because I hope that it might be what finally convinces them to cut back.

See-and-never-forget images of damaged lungs have probably worked for a significant number, but one of the biggest influences on people deciding to kick the habit in recent years has been the fact a pack of cigarettes now costs up to €12.

Smokes are set to rise again in Budget 2019 for the eighth year in a row and it's a price increase I gladly welcome.

It's easy for me to sit on my high horse and preach as I've never been a smoker - and I've never experienced how addictive they are.

Our generation is lucky in that we were educated about the dangers of smoking from an early age, while those who came before us weren't.

Some of the hardest working people I know are big smokers, and I've been told the stress of quitting would impact them more than the cigarettes themselves.

That advice was given down the local pub though, not from a medical professional.

"Did you hear Tommy so-and-so passed away? He smoked from the age of 11 and died a week after giving up the fags. It was the giving up that killed him I'd say".

Well it surely couldn't have been the cigarettes themselves, could it...?

It's good to see the Government trying to tackle the issue but we're still a bit behind other countries.

The Australian government has committed to raising the price of cigarettes to €28.47 (AUS$40) and reducing the number of adults smoking on a daily basis to 10pc.

Plain-packaging rules there insist that 75pc of the front of a cigarette pack is covered by a health warning, and 90pc of the back.

Ireland made history in March 2004 when we became the first country in the world to introduce comprehensive legislation banning smoking in workplaces.

The Government is now also looking to extend the ban on smoking where food is served to include outdoor areas.

A 50c hike here and there is also welcome, but I'd like to see a more dramatic increase.

Of course people will still turn to the duty free and 'rollies', but if we had to pay between €30-€50 for a pack of cigarettes here, it would really convince people to quit.

I'm probably sounding patronising here, especially when I do drink alcohol which has similar detrimental effects on our bodies. But I think everyone in Ireland can relate to having someone you love smoke their health away.

Research here and elsewhere indicates that 1 in every 2 smokers will die of a tobacco-related disease.

Having to watch someone you care about suffer from an illness that was avoidable is heartbreaking, as you will always feel there was more you could have done to help them quit.

The fact of the matter is though, they have to want to do it for themselves.

So, ministers, please keep increasing the cost of the ciggies, as it could end up being the lifesaving push in the back chronic smokers need.

Online Editors

Also in Business