20 August 2004
Brussels – The Wallonian health minister has called for cigarette prices to rise by at least 10 percent as part of an effort to deter smokers.
In an interview with La Derniere Heure published Friday, Christiane Vienne said that a price increase at this level would produce tangible improvements in the health of the population and help social costs.
“My son stopped smoking after the last price rise. And he is not the only one I know about,” she said, pledging to raise the issue with federal health minister Rudy Demotte.
She refused to give an exact figure for the future price of cigarettes.
But Vienne cautioned that smokers should be stigmatised by, for example, forcing them to wear tobacco patches.
“The fight against smoking should be done differently. I not in favour of action against fat people or smokers,” she said.
“It is essential to tackle the problem at its roots and not just to say to the smoker that he is forbidden to smoke or must wear a patch. Often smoking is the only pleasure for underprivileged people.”
But with ‘social handicaps’ on the rise, she argues that people must be made to feel responsible for their actions.
“People must feel responsible for taking cigarettes in the same way that they should be for what they eat,” she said.
“I have small children and I know that it is not easy to ban chips or sweet drinks every day. However, they are not good. You must say to the children that they are not good.”
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news