RCPI Policy Group on Tobacco calls for budget measures to encourage people to quit smoking

The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland Policy Group on Tobacco, chaired by Prof Des Cox, has issued its pre-Budget submission with recommendations for Government on how to achieve a tobacco-free Ireland.  

Prof Cox, a Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine, said: “In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, it is even more important that we strongly encourage people to quit smoking. There is now robust evidence that smokers are at a higher risk of severe complications with COVID-19 infection. Smokers are more likely to be hospitalised and have more severe outcomes compared with non-smokers.”

“There is also evidence that smokers have a more prolonged recovery from COVID-19 and are more likely to experience long term effects including neurological disability.  In addition, the very act of smoking itself involves fingers touching lips which increases the possibility of viral transmission.”

The group is calling for:

  • A minimum of €1 increase on a packet of 20 cigarettes and a proportionate increase on related products, with a ring-fencing of revenue generated for funding health services.
  • An elimination of the price differential between roll your own products (RYO) and cigarettes.
  • Introduction of an environmental levy on tobacco products.
  • Increased funding for anti-smuggling measures to ensure the price increases have the desired result of reducing smoking prevalence.
  • A substantial increase in funding for advertising campaigns promoting an anti-tobacco message.

Prof Cox also said: “We also recommend that significant funding be ring-fenced for research. We need innovative approaches, supported by research, to reach the Government’s 2025 target of 5% for smoking prevalence. We want to see the creation of a research fund of approximately €500,000 over the next five years for the purpose of generating new tobacco control measures. This should include research into e-cigarettes to understand their potential harms and benefits as smoking cessation tools.”

Read the full pre-Budget submission below. 

RCPI Policy Group on Tobacco 2020 Pre-Budget Submission