Charity slams Budget 2022 as ‘triple whammy against children’s health’

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The Irish Heart Foundation has slammed Budget 2022 as a ‘triple whammy against children’s health’ and criticised the Government for failing to “sufficiently tackle” increasing youth smoking and vaping.

The Dublin based charity also warned of a “childhood obesity crisis worsened by Covid-19”.

Today, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said the government will be increasing excise duties on a packet of cigarettes by 50c and other tobacco products will also see pro rata price hikes.

In its pre-Budget submission, the Irish Heart Foundation called for commitments to increase the price of a packet of 20 cigarettes to €20 by 2025, requiring an increase of almost €2 in Budget 2022; an excise tax of 6c per ml of e-cigarette liquid and a timetable for a broader sugar tax.

Director of Advocacy, Chris Macey, said “we need to do a lot more to reduce this massive toll of avoidable death and to protect the future health of our children”.

He said: ““Our teen smoking rate is on the rise for the first time in a quarter of a century and there has been huge growth in vaping, which may be fuelling the upsurge in tobacco use.

“In addition, the World Health Organisation predicted Ireland was on course to become the country with the highest obesity rate in Europe even before the pandemic sparked an increase in junk food consumption and reduced physical activity levels.

Mr Macey also said the Government should have incentivised companies to reduce added sugar in food products.

He said: “But the Government has missed the opportunity to address these issues through a more significant increase in tobacco tax, the introduction of tax on e-cigarettes to deter young people from vaping and a broad sugar tax incentivising food companies to reduce the high added sugar content in food products such as sweets, confectionery and breakfast cereals.

“The Government’s own research estimates that 85,000 of this generation of children in Ireland will die prematurely due to overweight and obesity; whilst almost 6,000 people die here every year due to smoking addiction – more than have, sadly, died due to the pandemic.

“Budget 2022 represents a triple whammy against children’s health – we need to do a lot more to reduce this massive toll of avoidable death and to protect the future health of our children.”