WHO urges Government to tackle smoking
29 January 2009
The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged Ireland to do more to tackle what it called the “tobacco epidemic”.
It is estimated that some 29 per cent of Irish people smoke and tobacco-related illnesses kill 6,000 people in Ireland each year.
The director of the WHO’s Tobacco Free Initiative Dr Douglas Bettcher said today the Government must implement more effective tobacco control policies to help cut the smoking rate.
Dr Bettcher is in Dublin to deliver an address at the Irish Cancer Society’s annual Charles Cully Memorial Lecture lecture.
Speaking before the lecture, he praised Ireland for adopting the “revolutionary” ban on smoking in public places and workplaces in March 2005. However, he said the Government must do more to protect people from the dangers of smoking. “Political will to adopt more progressive tobacco control policies is crucial in this regard,” he said.
The WHO provides technical assistance to enable countries to implement the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Ireland signed the convention in September 2003.
The convention encourages six tobacco control measures, including monitoring tobacco use and prevention policies; protecting people from tobacco smoke; offering help to quit smoking; warning about the dangers of tobacco; enforcing bans on tobacco advertising; promotion and sponsorship and raising taxes on tobacco.
The Irish Cancer Society said it plans to lobby Government for a €2 increase in the price of a pack of cigarettes as part of a five-year strategy to help cut the number of young people smoking.
“Evidence shows that increasing the price of cigarettes encourages smokers to stop smoking and deters young people from starting to smoke,” said the ICS health promotion manager Norma Cronin. “A price increase also sends a strong signal of the Government’s intention to reduce smoking.”
The ICS will also put pressure on the Government to increase spending on tobacco control initiatives and the National Smokers Quitline.
It also wants photo warnings of the effects of smoking to be displayed on cigarette packs and for the advertising of tobacco products to be banned by July.
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