World No Tobacco Day 2014 – RCPI urges government to implement further tax increases on tobacco products in Budget 2015

On 31 May 2014, World No Tobacco Day, RCPI urged the government to implement further tax increases on tobacco products in Budget 2015 to reduce smoking prevalence and to save lives.

Dr Pat Doorley, chair of the RCPI Policy Group on Tobacco, said, “The World Health Organisation’s message is clear. Raise Tobacco Tax- Lower Death and Disease. Raising taxes on tobacco is a proven measure to reduce smoking prevalence and tobacco related deaths.

“Tobacco is the most deadly consumer product ever marketed. It is a lethal addictive drug which kills when used as intended. 5200 people die in Ireland each year as a result of its use. Tobacco smoke affects virtually every organ in the body and leads to serious and fatal cardiovascular and respiratory disease as well as lung cancer and other cancers.”

“The health risks of smoking may even be worse than we thought. For example, the latest US Surgeon General report highlighted the role of smoking in diabetes development and vision loss.”

“Tobacco taxation is the single most effective means of reducing smoking prevalence and it is particularly effective among younger people and children because they are more price sensitive. It is also more effective among lower socioeconomic groups who are disproportionately killed by tobacco. In the lead up to the budget there will be arguments that raising tobacco taxes lead to increased consumption of untaxed cigarettes. We note that in some years when Ministers have not increased tobacco taxes the industry itself has increased the price. The appropriate response to consumption of untaxed cigarettes is to increase enforcement and prosecutions, and to impose more severe penalties; it is not an excuse to maintain or decrease excise duties.”

Dr Pat Doorley is chair of the Policy Group on Tobacco of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. Among the recommendations of their policy statement of March 2014, the group has called for increases in taxation of tobacco products, a ban on smoking in cars when children are present and the introduction of standardised packaging for tobacco products.