Call for National Tobacco Strategy
Smoking death toll equivalent to two 9/11s or a dozen jumbo jet crashes a year on Irish soil’News release 30 May 2011
- National tobacco strategy urgently needed to tackle the crisis
On the eve of World No Tobacco Day, which takes place on Tuesday May 31st, the Irish Heart Foundation called on the Government to urgently establish a national anti-smoking task force to tackle a crisis that is now costing 16 lives in Ireland every day of the year.
Said Irish Heart Foundation Chief Executive, Michael O’Shea: “Imagine the impact of two 9/11s or a dozen jumbo jet crashes a year on Irish soil and you can begin to picture the devastation that is being caused by smoking in every corner of this country.
“Over 6,000 people die each year from tobacco related illness. That’s over 15 times the number of people killed on the roads. Yet there’s no outcry about smoking, let alone any concerted calls for a strategy to halt such a needless waste of lives.
“At present 29% of Irish adults are smokers – with the figure rising to 35% among 18-29 year olds. That’s the same level as when the workplace smoking ban was introduced. Sadly, we did not follow up on this groundbreaking legislation and the failure to tackle tobacco smuggling, to impose increased tobacco taxes and to use this money to help the vast majority of smokers to quit through workable cessation policies has cost thousands of families the life of a loved one.
“The economic cost of inaction has also been high – the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan with the Department of Health, estimates that smoking related illness costs the taxpayer €2 billion a year. Yet just 0.89 cent per person is spent by the State trying to help smokers to quit.
“By establishing a high powered, multi agency task force, a co-ordinated national strategy can be developed that would deliver on all the varied policy responses required to impact on tobacco consumption. Such an approach would have to capability to save lives and taxpayers’ money on a massive scale.”
The national charity fighting heart disease and stroke is calling for an integrated approach to tackle tobacco issues on high price, smuggling, cessation and legislation with input across government departments including Health, Children, Finance and Justice and working with Gardai, Customs, medical professionals, poverty groups and other stakeholders.
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