DESPITE tough economic times, Irish smokers are turning to cigarettes more and spending more on their habit, research shows.
Smokers here now smoke around 23 cigarettes every day, 10 more than last year, and are spending more than €3,500 a year on their habit — €1,500 more than last year.
Aviva Health Insurance found that almost a quarter of those participating in their online health check are smokers, with more women (25%) than men (22%) smoking.
The research also shows that women are smoking double the amount of cigarettes compared to men, an average of 12 more.
The figures tie in with predictions that the risk of lung cancer is set to increase by 59% for men and 136% for women.
According to the research, Longford has the highest number of smokers in the country, with 305 of respondents admitting that they smoked.
Monaghan had the lowest number of smokers for the second year in a row with only 165.
Meanwhile, a smokers’ lobby group said the next government should respect the country’s one million adult smokers.
Forest Éireann wants a relaxation of the smoking ban and greater respect for those who smoked.
Spokesperson John Mallon said they wanted public houses to provide smoking rooms so that adults could smoke in greater comfort.
He felt that the anti-smoking movement had gone too far and, unwittingly perhaps, some well meaning campaigners were making many smokers’ lives a misery.
“We support restrictions on public smoking but to ban smoking in every bar without exemption was unnecessary and draconian,” said Mr Mallon.
The lobby group has also called for a cut in tobacco duty to tackle smuggling and reduce the temptation to buy tobacco abroad.
“Government policy has created an enormous black market. Tobacco control? You’re kidding. Criminal gangs sell cigarettes to anyone, including children,” he pointed out.
Mr Mallon said their manifesto was not just about smoking, it was about excessive government intervention in people’s daily lives.
“What next? Will it be alcohol, sweets, crisps or fizzy drinks,” he asked. “If people do not fight for their rights, a host of other restrictions will surely follow.”
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