Wednesday 22 May 2019

Reilly wants every cigarette to cost €1 in anti-smoking drive

Minister for Health Dr James Reilly
Minister for Health Dr James Reilly

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

Health Minister James Reilly wants to see each cigarette cost €1 to drive home to smokers the dangers of their habit.

He was speaking at the launch of the "Healthy Ireland" document which aims to improve the nation's lifestyle habits and get all government departments working together to make it easier for people to give up some of their sins.

However, the document, which is not costed, remains largely aspirational except for a commitment that the cabinet committee on social policy will oversee its progress, a high-level implementation plan will be drawn up and a Healthy Ireland Council will be set up.

It promises to involve other agencies, including local government, to promote more green spaces, paths and cycle lanes.

It echoes previous reports such as the task force on obesity, which was largely ignored and the document published last year on alcohol abuse, the recommendations of which have yet to be enforced.

Referring to his crusade to cut down on smoking, the minister, who is known to have enjoyed a cigar in the past, said if each cigarette cost a euro people will "think long and hard before they inhale".

He repeated his intention to bring a memo to Government to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes although no timescale was given.


Junior Health Minister Alex White, who is responsible for promised changes to reduce alcohol consumption, said "in your face" promotions need to be tackled and called for cross co-operation in cutting down exposure to drinks advertising.

But he failed to spell out any precise actions and give any timetable for the changes.

Dr Reilly said it would probably be the end of the decade before alcohol sponsorship of sport is banned.

The document contains 64 actions and several warnings about the slide towards more obesity and increase in chronic diseases.

It notes:

• People are now living longer than ever before but not all are "living those longer lives in good health. Many people here are affected by chronic diseases and disabilities related to poor diet, smoking, alcohol misuse and inactivity."

• Between 2010 and 2020 the number of adults with diabetes is expected to rise by 30pc and the number with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease by 23pc.

The minister said rising levels of child obesity remain a huge concern and repeated his fears that "we may very well be the first generation to bury the generation behind us".

He said his bid to introduce a sugar tax, shot down by Finance Minister Michael Noonan in the last budget, remains on the agenda.

Children the key to a fit and healthy future

Irish Independent

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