Faculty of Public Health Medicine, RCPI calls for action on tobacco, alcohol and sugary drinks in Budget 2013

The Faculty of Public Health Medicine has called on the Minister for Finance to tackle alcohol abuse, smoking and obesity in Budget 2013

The Faculty, representing specialists in public health medicine in Ireland, believes that Budget 2013 can make a significant improvement to Ireland’s health by addressing the harm caused by alcohol, tobacco and sugary drinks through a range of practical, evidence-based measures.

Tobacco

The Faculty is calling for the introduction of a price cap on tobacco products to reduce the “obscene profits the tobacco industry makes by selling poisonous products”.

The Faculty is also calling for a minimum of 60 cents to be placed on a packet of 20 cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Dr Fenton Howell, Faculty spokesperson on smoking, said, “A significant proportion of this tax increase should be used to enhance the funding for the HSE's QUIT campaign and smoking cessation services.”

Alcohol

The Faculty is calling for the introduction of a minimum pricing structure for alcohol and an increase in excise duty, with higher increases on spirits.

Dr Declan Bedford, Faculty spokesperson on alcohol, said, “The extent of our alcohol problem is such that we urgently need to reduce the amount we, as a nation, drink. International research has shown that the introduction of minimum pricing and increases on excise duty is the best way of achieving this.”

The Faculty is also calling on the Government to introduce legislation to give effect to the recommendations contained in the National Substance Misuse Strategy, published in February 2012 by the Department of Health, which provides an overall framework for reducing alcohol harm in Ireland.

Obesity

The Faculty is calling for the introduction of a 20% tax on sugar-sweetened drinks and a subsidy on healthy foods, such as vegetables and fruits.

Dr Catherine Hayes, Faculty spokesperson on obesity, said, “Studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine in October showed that consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks may influence the development of obesity among children, adolescents and adults. There is also an emerging association between sugary drinks and chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and coronary heart disease. A tax on sugary drinks, which are marketed extensively to children and adolescents, could be used to subsidise healthy food choices like fruit and vegetables, and educational campaigns about obesity. We know from our Growing Up in Ireland study that one quarter of children in Ireland are already overweight or obese and it is our responsibility, as a society, to act in the best interests of our children.”

You can download the full pre-Budget submission from the Faculty of Public Health Medicine here.

For further information please contact

Aoife Ní Mhaitiú
Communications Executive
Royal College of Physicians of Ireland
Frederick House
19 South Frederick Street
Dublin 2

Phone 01 8639 770 | 085 850 0080

About the Faculty of Public Health Medicine

The Faculty of Public Health Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland represents specialists in public health medicine in Ireland.

Public Health Medicine is defined as “the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organized efforts of society.”