Two sides to tobacco figures

In your letters page, (Examiner 3/4/’14), Kathleen O’Meara of the Irish Cancer Society (ICS) rejects the latest figures on smuggled tobacco, but she would say that, wouldn’t she?

She states that, “While price plays a role in making a country potentially profitable for smugglers, the primary incentive is the level of detection and enforcement.”

To inform the lady better, profit is the only incentive for the criminal smuggler. Because of the incessant lobbying by the ICS and their colleagues in the Tobacco Control Industry, the Irish smoker pays twice the European average for their legal cigarettes.

She maintains that the Revenue Commissioners in evidence to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children rubbished the fact that plain packaging will increase the rate of smuggled tobacco. This is not true. What they did intimate was that their efforts against the criminals would not change as a result of any increased activity that might result from such a move. Also, because the smugglers do not file tax returns, all data on the high rates of illicit tobacco must, by their nature, be merely estimates or guesses.

Also on the subject of official data, up to late last year the ICS among many others were bemoaning the high rate of smoking in Ireland, believed to be between 29% (SLAN Survey) and 31% (Eurobarometer). Then the new National Office of Tobacco Control, another arm of the Tobacco Control Industry, magically declared early this year that the rate is now down to 21%.

That this announcement should coincide with the tenth anniversary of the smoking ban will have come as no big surprise. It appears that they simply changed the way they collect their figures to achieve the new low number.

Finally, Ms O’Meara suggests that ITMAC statistics should come with a major warning. One could also apply that same attitude towards all of the warnings that come from any member of the Tobacco Control Industry.

Whatever the truth is in this debate, it is undoubtedly the e-cigarette and not the nicotine products that the ICS recommend which will ultimately “encourage” smokers to try to quit their habit.

John Mallon

Forest Éireann

Churchfield

Cork

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