Senator Dr. Keith Swanick has wholeheartedly welcomed the announcement by the Government that public investments in tobacco companies would be brought to an end.
As a result of questioning in Seanad Éireann on October 19th, Senator Swanick was informed that the taxpayer, through the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) has equity holdings in three separate tobacco companies. He also brought a motion before Seanad Éireann which was passed unanimously in December and called on the government to immediately bring such investments to an end. At the time, Senator Swanick labelled these investments as morally untenable.
Commenting on the announcement Senator Keith Swanick said “This is something which while entirely overdue, is a decision to be warmly welcomed. In the two months since I first brought this issue up on the floor of Seanad Éireann a staggering 1,000 people in Ireland will have died from tobacco related diseases.”
“Tobacco illness is the leading cause of preventable death in Ireland and the estimated cost of smoking on the health care system is more than €500 million per year. Department of Health data shows an average cost of €5,400 every time a smoker was admitted to hospital with a tobacco-related illness. In 2013 there were 31,000 such admissions at €5,400 per admission that equals a shocking €170 million. This does not include the primary or GP care costs and associated costs such as medication.”
“The announcement from the government to take this action is most welcome and means that the legislation which I had prepared with colleagues will no longer be required to end these investments. Over the past number of months I have met with representatives from the following organisations ASH Ireland, The Irish Cancer Society, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Royal College of Physicians and The Irish Heart Foundation and drafted legislation designed to prohibit such investments. The legislation, The Public Health (Prohibition of Tobacco Investments) Bill 2016 will thankfully not be necessary as a result of the government’s announcement.”
“I commend the decision by Minister Noonan and I know that having met and spoken with Minister for Health Simon Harris T.D. and Minister of State for Health Promotion, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy T.D. along with my own party colleagues Deputy Billy Kelleher, Deputy Dara Calleary, Deputy Michael McGrath and Deputy Sean Fleming that this is a most welcome development. There can be no place for holding investments in tobacco companies now or into the future. These investments flew in the face of the ‘Tobacco Free Ireland Plan for 2025 as well as wider Government policy on health and public expenditure.”