Anti-smoking group, ASH Ireland, has criticised the government’s decision not to raise the price of cigarettes more in Budget 2012.
From today, a pack of cigarettes will increase in price by 25c, however this is not enough to encourage people to give up smoking or to discourage young people from taking up the habit, ASH has claimed.
It also insisted that concerns that a major price increase would lead to a rise in the smuggling of cigarettes ‘are misguided and used as a red herring by the tobacco industry’. Smuggling needs to be tackled as a ‘separate and very serious criminal issue’, it said.
According to ASH chairman, Dr Brian Maurer, the failure of the government to deal with this issue is serious ‘and is confounded by its lack of commitment to dealing with the crime of cigarette smuggling‘.
“Tobacco use is responsible for more deaths from heart and circulatory disease, cancer and respiratory illness than any other cause. The cost to the state of smoking related illness is well over €1 billion,” he explained.
He said that ASH, along with the Irish Heart Foundation and the Irish Cancer Society, had recently made a submission to the government outlining a strategy to combat both tobacco use and tobacco smuggling, however the government ‘failed to take the appropriate actions’.
“This submission will be published shortly and it is to be hoped that increased public awareness of the issues involved and the potential solutions will cause the government to change its mind,” Dr Maurer added.