Let’s use a carrot instead of a stick to curb smoking

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Nobody will ever mistake me for a smoker – or indeed an advocate or apologist for the tobacco industry – but even I had to feel a little bit sorry for the persecution of cigarette addicts on both sides of the Irish Sea over the last few weeks.

First off, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wants to introduce a rising age limit on buying cigarettes. This would mean that those who were currently 14 would never be able to buy fags legally, because every year they get older the threshold also pushes up a year to keep them perennially out of the loop.

He did this as a sort of political three card trick, as he announced that he’d abandoned the rest of the high-speed rail network to save £36 billion and effectively ensure that Britain’s economic power base remains south of Birmingham.

And while his stated aim is a laudable one – to cut cancer deaths by a quarter and protect children – it’s an utterly futile exercise.

Can you imagine, for example, a grown adult being asked for identification to prove they’re 45 and not 44 when they ask for a packet of twenty?

Anyway, if Rishi lived in the real world, he’d know that there’s a whole world under the radar where you can illegally buy all the cigarettes you want to.

And you can also fill your suitcase and your lungs when you go abroad on your holidays.

On this side of the Irish Sea, the Irish Heart Foundation has come up with a proposal that would mean a single cigarette would cost €1 by 2025 if the Government adopts health recommendations in the next two Budgets.

That would be €20 for twenty fags in two years’ time – or €140 a week for someone with a twenty-a-day habit.

In fairness, we’re most of the way there already, because getting to twenty quid would only require a rise of just over three euro in the next budget after the pack of twenty was hit for another 75 cent in the recent one.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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