Government's move to increase to cost of alcohol and tobacco will help save lives, says Minister in the Ministry of Finance Mariano Browne.
Browne defended the increases at the Senate sitting yesterday saying that Government intends to promote healthy living and in effect reduce the amount of money it spends on health care.
He also said this measure would prevent young adults from consuming too much alcohol and tobacco.
"We are acutely aware and we are sensitive to the fact that cheap booze puts it in easier reach of young adults and in some instances children. On this basis alone we consider that the new rates on excise duties on alcoholic beverages and tobacco are indeed long overdue and well justified," he said.
He said this initiative will steer young smokers and drinkers away from these habits as they tend to be more responsive to price.
"Raising the duties on alcoholic beverages and on cigarettes is justified because the $1.6 billion on tobacco and alcohol tax revenue over the past three years does not even come close to off-setting the staggering public health and safety cost of alcohol and tobacco consumption," he added.
Browne stressed that alcohol consumption causes a number of diseases to the heart, stomach and liver.
With respect to smoking, Browne said people who stop the habit even well into middle age avoid the risk of lung cancer. He said those who stopped smoking before avoid 90 per cent of the risks related to tobacco consumption.
"It is in fact this Government's objective to reduce the financial budget of the State for health care treatment of medicinal or medical conditions associated with lifestyle health risks that emanate from alcohol and tobacco consumption," said Browne.