Responding to today’s Budget Statement by Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe, Irish Heart Foundation Head of Advocacy, Chris Macey said:
“The Irish Heart Foundation welcomes the continuing policy of annual price hikes on cigarettes which have spearheaded an historic reduction in smoking rates particularly among young people in Ireland.
“But much more needs to be done to drive down smoking to the Tobacco Free Ireland target of 5%, which equates to 200,000 smokers by 2025. And the failure to announce more significant tax increases in tandem with much greater investment in quit services brings into question the Government’s commitment to even trying to achieve one of its flagship national health policies.
“The number of smokers in Ireland has fallen by 80,000 over the last three years, but we need further reductions of 100,000 every year up to 2025 to meet the Government target. We believe that increasing the price of a pack of cigarettes to €20 by then, in addition to an immediate quadrupling of investment in quit services to at least €50 million a year are essential to achieving such a sizeable reduction in smoking rates.
“Meanwhile, the failure to ringfence revenue collected from the sugar sweetened drinks tax or to increase funding for Healthy Ireland is a dereliction of the State’s duty of care to children when its own research estimates that 85,000 of today’s children on the island will die prematurely due to overweight and obesity.
“This raises the question as to whether the tax is a health measure, or just another revenue raiser to boost the State coffers whilst the Government fails yet again to resource crucial measures in the national obesity plan.”