Smokers are being asked to quit smoking for a National No Smoking Day. Given the contribution cigarette sales make to the Irish economy, can the country afford to give up smoking?

Following on from a successful campaign for people to stop smoking held on Ash Wednesday, the Health Education Bureau, a Department of Health body, are now asking smokers to give up again for National No Smoking Day.

There is a uneasy relationship with the tobacco industry in Ireland. On one hand, newspapers carry anti smoking advertisements and articles on how to give up smoking, and on the other, they carry announcements about price reductions for certain brands of cigarette.

The RTÉ Guide and other glossy magazines often carry expensive full page advertisements for cigarettes. Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ) makes money from cigarette advertisements on the side of buses. The Health Education Bureau, body published anti-smoking posters in collaboration with the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), however the GAA accepts sponsorship from tobacco companies.

While the government is behind National No Smoking Day and anti-smoking campaigns, an analysis of who gets what from the sale of a packet of cigarettes shows the government gets more than 60%, with 10% going to the tobacconist and 30% to the manufacturer.

In the autumn of 1976 the Health Education Bureau launched a cessation of smoking campaign costing £100,000. However in the same year cigarette sales raised £97 million for the government. In spite of the gulf between how much revenue the government raises from smoking and how much it funds the anti-smoking campaign, Peter Grant of the Health Education Bureau is convinced the hard work is paying off.

This year will be the first time that will show a reduction in cigarette consumption, and I think we are on the right road.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 1 November 1977. The reporter is Derek Davis.