Wicklow People

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Government spends €2bn tax revenue from cigarettes on smoking-related illnesses


The Government rakes in an estimated €2 billion a year in tax revenue from cigarettes but roughly the same amount is spent on treating illness caused by tobacco.

Irish people puffed their way through 5.4 billion cigarettes in 2011, making smoking a lucrative habit for the Government.

Figures from the Revenue Commissioners show that almost 80% of the price of a €9.30 packet of cigarettes goes to the State through VAT and excise duty.

Ireland has one of the highest tax takes on cigarettes in Europe, surpassed only by the U.K. and Norway.

Most of the revenue from cigarettes is ironically spent on treating people who have developed smoking-related illnesses.

The Irish Heart Foundation has called for more money to be spent on smoking cessation services.

It points out that over 100 times more is spent on treating sick smokers than helping them to quit.

The Foundation's Head of Advocacy said that by putting more resources into quit services, the Government could reduce the daily toll of 14 deaths from tobacco-related illness and the 36,000 smokers who are admitted to hospital each year with illness.

At present, illness caused by tobacco costs the State up to €2 billion a year - that's €2,000 for every smoker in the country.

But less than €15 annually is spent helping each of Ireland's one million smokers to quit.

The vast majority of this goes towards medications while community cessation services are inadequate in many parts of the country.

There is no smoking cessation officer in County Wexford as the person who held the post was redeployed and is not being replaced.

'Not enough is being done to help smokers quit,' said Mr. Macey.

'We know that 80% of Irish smokers want to quit. Unfortunately, most are left to go it alone when they try and that means they are more likely to fail,' he said.

'Support services such as cessation clinics, quitlines andmedications double a peson't chances of giving up smoking for good.'

Health concerns are the main reason why smokers want to quit, according to data from the National Smokers' Quitline. The second most common reason is the financial drain and the third is concerns about the impact of smoking on family and children. The main reason for not giving up is the smoker's nicotine addiction.

QUIT is a HSE health education campaign aimed at encouraging smokers to quit in a bid to reduce the number of smokers in Ireland.

The campaign centres on the fact that one in every two smokers will die of a tobacco related disease. Research from QUIT show that most smokers, eight out of ten, want to kick the habit and that four out of every ten smokers try to quit each year. Unfortunately for many their addiction to nicotine can be very difficult to overcome. Difficult but not impossible.

Of those who have quit 35 per cent quit on their first attempt and overall half of them succeeded after their second attempt. The trick is to keep trying.

QUIT offer phone support to quitters via the National Smoker's Quitline (1850 201 203) which is run in conjunction with the Irish Cancer Society. There is also a dedicated website, www.quit.ie and a Facebook page, www.facebook.com/HSEquit, which offers information and advice to take smokers through the first important weeks and months.

In addition smoking cessation services are provided by the HSE in locations nationwide, in hospitals and in primary care. GPs, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals also play a key role in helping smokers to quit.

After one month your skin will be clearer, brighter and more hydrated.

After three to nine months your breathing will have improved and you will no longer have a cough or a wheeze. Your lung function could see a ten per cent improvement.

After one year the risk of heart attack and heart disease will have fallen to about half that of a smoker and after ten years the risk of lung cancer will have fallen by half.

After 15 years the risk of heart attack and heart disease will be the same as someone who has never smoked.

Research into smoking who quit smoking before the age of 35 have a life expectancy that is only slightly less than people who have never smoked while those who quit before they are 50 years old reduce their risk of dying from a smoking related disease by 50 per cent.