Smoking is costing the Irish economy €365m a year, says Minister of State for Health Róisín Shortall, according to the Irish Times.
Currently, 29 percent of the Irish population smokes, and if that number does not go down, it will cost health services more than €23 billion over the next decade.
“That would pay the entire cost of running our health services for almost two years,” the Minister told the Dáil.
Ms Shortall was introducing the Public Health (Tobacco) (Amendment) Bill, legislation to allow graphic pictorial and text warnings on cigarette packets to illustrate the health consequences of smoking.
Smoking was the “greatest single cause of preventable illness and premature death in Ireland”, killing more than 5,700 people a year, she said.
The bill would make it obligatory for cigarette and tobacco packets to carry one of 14 images illustrating the health consequences of smoking.
The Minister stressed full color-picture based health warnings on tobacco products.
“Pictorial health warnings on tobacco products make them less attractive and target smokers by providing them with information on tobacco-related health risks," she said.
International research indicates that “smokers are more likely to remember a health consequence of smoking, when smoking, if they have seen a picture."