Sunday 20 October 2019

Reilly is right in bid to stub out teen smoking

Health Minister James Reilly got more bouquets than brickbats yesterday when he announced he is to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes. His main target to benefit from the measure are young people who, he believes, are more at risk of being enticed by the pinks and blues which currently adorn packets. Nearly eight in 10 smokers took up the habit under the age of 18.

Dr Reilly has been on something of a crusade against smoking and the tobacco industry since he took office and this measure has only been adopted by one other country, Australia, to date.

As a GP, he has seen the devastating health effects of the addiction and he has also suffered on a personal level, losing his brother, who was also a doctor, to lung cancer.

Of course, Ireland was a European leader when a previous government decided to ban smoking in public places. A recent study estimated this has saved more than 3,000 lives.

Dr Reilly is convinced that deglamorising smoking even more will protect even more people from becoming ensnared.

However, despite the congratulations, there also came the caution from the tobacco manufacturers that it will create even more opportunities for smuggling.

Retail newsagents also added their calls not to proceed, saying one in four cigarettes smoked in Ireland is illegal.

Regardless of their protests, the protection of public health comes first. And Dr Reilly correctly pointed out, the way to tackle smuggling is with better enforcement.

But, if it is the case that retailers are losing 30pc of sales due to smuggling, then it is imperative this crackdown needs to be intensified.

Irish Independent

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