ASH Ireland is very disappointed the Government has increased the price of cigarettes by a mere 10 cents in the budget. Price is recognised by the W.H.O. and others as the most important way of encouraging smokers to quit and discouraging young people from experimenting with tobacco. The concerns being raised about ‘smuggling and price increase’ are misguided and mainly fuelled by the tobacco industry. Smuggling must be tackled as a separate and very serious criminal issue; however, it should not impinge on health policy and related decisions.
Dr Ross Morgan, Chairman of ASH Ireland said today, “Tobacco smuggling must be tackled before the market is flooded with cheap cigarettes and a consequent increase in smoking and tobacco related illness. The current cost to the state of treating tobacco related disease annually is well over €1 billion euro. This will increase if prevalence, which has been reduced to 21.7%, is allowed to rise again.
Dr Morgan went on to say, “Smuggling of tobacco into this country has now reached major proportions and must be tackled head on by the government. 13% of cigarettes smoked in this country are non-duty paid; the loss in revenue to the exchequer is over €400 million per annum. Smuggling increases consumption and addiction and therefore is of long-term benefit to the tobacco industry. There are many examples of jurisdictions where tobacco price has been increased for health reasons and smuggling simultaneously tackled and reduced – such as Australia, New Zealand and Spain”.
ASH Ireland is disappointed that VAT has not been reduced on nicotine replacement patches and that a 50 cents environmental levy was not introduced on the tobacco industry for each pack of cigarettes sold in this jurisdiction, both of which could have been incorporated in the Budget Statement.
“I ask the Government to continue the fight against smoking, especially with such initiatives as the introduction of plain packaging and the banning of smoking in cars transporting children. Over 5,200 of our citizens die each year from smoking, and we must reduce this dreadful statistic by de-normalising smoking, educating young people and adults on the risks and above all introducing pro-health legislation”, Dr Morgan said.
Further information contact:
ASH Ireland, 0818 305055
Wally Young, Young Communications, 087 2471520