Cigarette deterrent going up in smoke

The Budget 2017 announced that an extra 50 cents will be added to every packet of cigarettes. Image Credit: Laura Horan

Rihanna, Kristen Stewart, Zayn Malik and Matt Damon are just a few of the world’s most famous celebrities regularly spotted in the media with a cigarette between their lips. Obviously everyone is entitled to choose whether or not to smoke themselves, but is the Irish Government’s decision to raise the price of tobacco products enough to deter young people from making that choice?

Michael Noonan announced many changes to our economic concerns in the budget on October 11th. While many are concerned about the USC rate being reduced by 0.5%, an extra €5 being added to the pension and other social welfare and the minimum wage being raised by 10 cents, less concern has been expressed about the 50 cent increase to the price of cigarettes and tobacco.

From my experience of working in a shop with a tobacco licence, I have seen the average price of a 20-pack of cigarettes go from €9.10 to €11.30 in the past few years. Yet i have never seen a major decrease in sales.

Smokers crave nicotine, just like any other addictive substance. And when it comes down to it, the price doesn’t seem to bother them.

What’s even more concerning is the number of young people smoking. Especially now, with the social welfare being increased, individuals signing on or drawing the dole will source out the extra €6.30 purely because their bodies crave nicotine.

I’m not here to tell anyone that they should or should not smoke, and will not judge anyone for choosing to do so. I do, however, feel that we need to get the serious point across of the many serious health implications smoking can cause.

The ‘QUIT’ advertisements don’t lie when they say that ‘One in two smokers will die of a tobacco-related disease’.

Gerry Collins didn’t give up his remaining time working with the campaign for it to be ignored by future generations.

I have seen, first hand, how lung cancer resulting from excessive smoking has emotionally strained a family. It starts with surgery to remove the tumour from the lung. Hospital visits to assess the surgery wound. Medication check-ups. Cancer screening. Cancer screening again. And again. Until you think everything is fine. Only for cancer cells show up again in the results.

After this the only other choice is radiography. A 182kilometre round-trip, every day for 30 days in a row. Vomiting. Chest pain. Tiredness. Then you’re told it’s okay, that you can go home and live your life as normal. Another cancer screen comes along. Then another. And hey-presto, you’re back to square one.

But by now, the body is too old, too exhausted from treatment, and the only course of action is to let it take over. Take over the lungs. The body. Your time, your family. Your life.

So, even though the government has imposed an extra 50 cents on the price of your packet of cigarettes, and you can afford it. I urge you, to please, just think twice.

Emily Crowley

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