Well, the dust has settled on Budget 2013 and as usual smokers have been hit again.
Some of you may be thinking, 'It's only 10c increase per pack, John, hardly the end of the world, old bean.' But may I point out quite reasonably that the pint has been hit by the exact same 10 cent increase and the drinks industry is staggering around in shock as if the end is nigh.
I do remember that self same industry barely murmured when smokers were banished outdoors in 2004. At least a third of their customers, if not two-thirds in some places, were given a damned good reason not to get out and visit their drink emporiums and I hardly heard a peep of support from the leaders of that industry back then or since. Maybe they were keeping their heads down lest their own brand of 'carcinogenic evil' should wander under the medical stoplight applied to tobacco.
With another 50 cent on the bottle of wine too it will just be a matter of time before the only people able to afford wine will be doctors and politicians. Lo and behold, on Tuesday last we learned that the Leinster House itself is discussing having their 'own brand wines' with in-house labelled bottles probably featuring a fucking harp no doubt. I can already hear the wine buffs describing it as a "nifty little traveller, fruity and rich, extremely cheeky, and deceptively alluring with a whiff of the night about it".
The opposition parties had a field day with Stubbs Reilly over the Budget too. Specifically, the suggestion that he's going to have to take medical cards away from deserving cases. The Joe Duffy Show, among others, broadcast stories from distraught cancer sufferers whose cards were cancelled and Reilly blustered that this was not the case, despite the actual truthful evidence.
Later however he was forced to clarify the position. He told us, "It has never been the case that having a particular illness guarantees access to a medical card. There is not , and nor has there ever been an automatic entitlement to a medical card on the basis of a specific illness. That is the reality of the 1970s act."
Political double-speak is a hideous thing, isn't it? They only stuck the 10 cent on the fags for our own good of course. Nothing to do with revenue. Mind you, they'd have stuck 50 quid on them for our own good too if it wasn't for our alternative suppliers!