Cost of Nicotine Replacement Therapy

ASH Ireland is deeply concerned about the cost of nicotine replacement therapy in Ireland.  ASH Wednesday is a time when many smokers attempt to quit the habit and they need every encouragement and support to do so.  A major issue confronting Irish smokers is the cost to the consumer of nicotine replacement therapy, when compared to the cost of the same product in the UK and other European countries.

Dr Ross Morgan said today “VAT is being charged at 23% on nicotine replacement patches as compared to a rate of 5% in the UK.  This and other issues is creating a significant price differential between Ireland and the UK.  We have contacted the Minister for Finance and recently spoken to the Minister for Health on this issue, which we believe can be expediently resolved.”

Dr Ross Morgan went on to say, “we are also concerned with the overall cost of the full range of nicotine replacement products.  This is perhaps due to the fact that they are only available from behind the counter in pharmacies and not available off the shelf in a range of retail outlets.  Over the years we have been in contact with the Department of Health, the Irish Medicines Board, the Pharmaceutical Sector and chemists with the view to addressing this cost issue, and we again ask all involved to address this very serious matter, which can be a disincentive to many people who wish to quit smoking.”

It is well established that over 70% of smokers will wish to quit at any given time.  Many people do successfully manage to quit and we encourage people to persist as quitting is not likely to happen at the first attempt.  The health benefits of quitting are almost immediate and there are the obvious cost benefits.

Over 5,200 people die from the effects of smoking in this country every year.  It is estimated that the cost of treating tobacco related illness could be in the region of €1.5 billion annually.  It is vitally important to encourage young people not to commence the habit and it is also imperative that we continue to encourage and assist smokers to quit.

On a separate matter ASH Ireland welcomes the good news in regard to young people and smoking published recently in the Health Behaviour in Schoolchildren Survey (HBSC).    The report shows a reduction in smoking by 12 to 17 year olds from 15.3% in 2006 to 11.8% in 2010.