woman destroying cigarette
October 9, 2018

Irish Cancer Society Reacts to Budget 2019

9 October 2018: The Irish Cancer Society has reacted to the Budget 2019 announcement today. It has welcomed that the price of cigarettes will increase by a further 50 cents, along with a rise in Minimum Excise Duty (MED) and that funding will be available for the extension of the HPV vaccination programme to boys. 

It has also welcomed moves to lower the amount cancer patients will have to pay under the Drugs Payment Scheme by €10 and to reduce prescription charges by 50 cent for people over 70. However, the Society has expressed disappointment at the decision to retain inpatient charges

Rise in the price of cigarettes
Donal Buggy, Head of Services and Advocacy at the Irish Cancer Society said: “The Irish Cancer Society is pleased that price of cigarettes continues to increase. The price rise will encourage people to stop smoking and ultimately save lives.”

“We have campaigned for increased excise duty and MED over 2018 as regular, sharp increases in the cost of tobacco are the most effective way of getting people to quit smoking and the most effective way of stopping children from taking up smoking. Currently, child smoking at an all-time low of 8%, while overall smoking prevalence is at 22%.”
Mr. Buggy warned that price increases alone would not achieve the target of a Tobacco Free Ireland by 2025.  “Price increases, while hugely important in increasing quit rates, need to be accompanied by readily available supports for smokers to quit.”

Medical costs
Donal Buggy, Head of Services and Advocacy at the Irish Cancer Society said: “Cancer patients bore the brunt of charges introduced and increased over the course of the economic downturn and are still feeling their effects.  Slight reductions in the cost of medication are very welcome, but the Government must go further to ensure the calamitous effects of statutory charges forced on patients undergoing treatment are reversed.”

“We have campaigned to abolish the unfair inpatient charge which sees patients having treatment charged €80 for each treatment session up to a maximum of €800 a year.  Over 6,500 people across the country have signed our petition to scrap the charge and have sent a clear message to Government that this punitive charge is hurting financially vulnerable patients.”

“While this year’s Budget represents some respite for cancer patients and their families, more needs to be done and the Irish Cancer Society will continue to push for reduced out of pocket payments, including the abolition of the inpatient charge, so those facing huge additional bills can get help from the state when they need it most”.

HPV vaccination extension to boys
Donal Buggy, Head of Advocacy and Services said: “Following the tragic passing of Emma Mhic Mhathúna, and a year in which the devastating impact of cervical cancer on women and their families has been laid bare, it is important that we do all we can to stop preventable HPV-related cancers.

“This move will help bolster herd immunity and will ensure equitable access to HPV vaccination for boys and girls. Alongside a well-funded and robust screening programme, we can all but eradicate cervical cancer.”

"We also welcome the announcement by Minister Harris that funding will be made available for HPV screening as the primary screening test for cervical cancer. We need to ensure that there are clear implementation plans both for the roll-out of the vaccine and HPV screening, so that those administering the vaccine and screening test are fully informed and prepared to answer the questions of parents and women.”