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Are you one of the 14,000 people just DYING for a cigarette?; SHOCK DEATH TOLL FROM SMOKING.

Byline: FIONA WYNNE

MORE than 14,000 Irish people die from smoking-related diseases each year, figures revealed yesterday.

Around 7,000 die from cancer and another 7,000 from other heart and lung illnesses.

The statistics were released by the Office of Tobacco Control (OTC) during a seminar to discuss the best way to discourage people from smoking.

There are currently more than 1.3 million smokers in Ireland.

The report, based on data for 2000, showed nearly EUR1.9billion was spent on cigarettes that year.

It also confirmed that most smokers started the habit as teenagers and that people on low incomes were 50 per cent more likely to smoke.

OTC spokeswoman Valerie Robinson told the Irish Mirror: "A number of experts spoke at the seminar and they came to the conclusion that increasing the price is the best way to beat smoking.

"A report by the Women's Health Council a couple of weeks ago revealed Ireland has one of the lowest life expectancies in the EU.

"Women here have the second highest mortality rate from cancer in Europe, with an age expectancy of about 78. The average age for a man to die is about 73. A lot of these deaths are attributed to smoking."

Dr Fenton Howell, chairman of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), described the figures as "shocking".

He added: "We know a huge number of people die from smoking related illnesses and if there was the same number of deaths from anything else there would be tribunals set up all over the country.

"What we need is legislation and we need it urgently.

"The government are the only people who have the power to bring this in and the only way to reduce the number of deaths is to increase the price and ban smoking in pubs and offices."

Norma Cronin, anti-tobacco consultant at the Irish Cancer Society, said smokers can lose up to 15 years of their life.

She said: "There are thousands of deaths from lung cancer each year and 95 per cent of these people are smokers.

"Around 30 per cent of all cancers are smoking-related so there are a lot of unnecessary deaths. Nearly one third of the population smoke, and this number hasn't dropped in at least 10 years, even though the price of cigarettes has soared.

"Obviously they are still too affordable. Young people today have a much greater disposable income than they had in the past."

IF you are interested in beating the habit, the Irish Cancer Society offers a CallSave quitting helpline on 1850 201 203.

CAPTION(S):

STUB IT OUT: Price hikes have been demanded; DEADLY: One in three smoke
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Title Annotation:Leader
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 28, 2002
Words:445
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