Despite the fact that this country has some of the most expensive cigarettes in the world and very tough anti-smoking laws, a large proportion of our population still smokes tobacco to the detriment of their health.
In other words, cost is not the big, prohibitive stick that many of the experts consider it to be.
Now, Health Minister Leo Varadkar has received Cabinet approval for the outline of a proposed Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015. The Bill is aimed at reducing binge drinking by curbing cheap alcohol sales.
If the proposed changes were imposed, at worst it would mean that a bottle of wine could not be legally sold for less than €8.80 and a can of beer for €2.20. At best, the minimum price for a bottle of wine would be €7.20 and €1.80 for a can of beer.
It is right and proper that the Minister should address the scourge of binge drinking but if higher prices haven’t stopped smokers why do they believe that higher prices will stop binge drinking?
Surely, the best way would be to curb the desire for such activity, especially among impressionable young teens, is to increase the level of clever and effective anti drinking campaigns.
Otherwise, the people who make huge profits selling illegal cigarettes will make even more money by selling illegal slabs of beer cans.
At the same time, moderate drinkers who can’t afford to drink in pubs will find it even harder to enjoy a tipple by their own fireside.