A former minister for health has called on major supermarket chains to stop selling cigarettes.
Dr James Reilly said that he would like to see the likes of Tesco, SuperValu, Dunnes Stores and other big retailers stop selling tobacco products since they were “supposed to be providers of food and nourishment and nutritional goods,” reports The Irish Times.
Reilly, speaking at the Seanad, was introducing a proposal to ban smoking in places where food is served outdoors, which was unanimously accepted.
He said supermarkets "should take the lead and stop selling” cigarettes.
Reilly, a GP, also called for a change in licensing laws “so we don’t have any longer this situation where one licence covers all your outlets”.
He said that the issue was personal for him due to the fact that his father had a stroke and was left blind for the last 14 years of his life due to smoking.
Reilly’s brother was a public health doctor who died of lung cancer at the age of 60, and, more recently, his brother-in-law also died of lung cancer at the age of 62.
“So for me this is personal and for me it is professional as a doctor having seen all the suffering I’ve seen and as politician for me it has to be one of our main political ambitions to create a tobacco-free society,” Reilly said.
This would mean reducing the prevalence of smoking to less than 5% by 2025, down from the current rate of 18%.
“I believe we’re winning because young people between the ages of 12 and 17 in recent surveys, less and less of them are smoking,” said Reilly, who also introduced plain packaging on tobacco products in Ireland.
“It is the only legal product that we know of that when used as directed by the manufacturer will kill one in two of its habitual users,” he said, adding that some 6,000 Irish men and women die every year as a direct result of smoking.
© 2018 Checkout – your source for the latest Irish retail news. Article by Kevin Duggan. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.