Irish Heart Foundation calls for increased tobacco tax in Budget

By Leanne Dempsey Policy News   |   2nd Oct 2023

A single cigarette will cost €1 by 2025 if the Government adopts our health recommendations in the next two Budgets.

The Irish Heart Foundation has encouraged the price increases to confront a rise in the number of youth smokers.

Chris Macey, Director of Advocacy and Patient Support with the national charity, said studies show increases in tobacco tax are the most effective way to reduce tobacco smoking levels.

"The Irish Heart Foundation is calling for a commitment from the Government to increase the price of a packet of 20 cigarettes to €20 by 2025."

Chris Macey, Director of Advocacy and Patient Support, Irish Heart Foundation

“This would require a Budget increase of €2.10 for the next two years.

“When Ireland introduced the workplace smoking ban, other countries followed. But we have lost ground, and smoking rates in the young are on the rise.

“The biggest weapon the Government has to deter children from smoking is tax, but they’re not using it effectively.”

Research by Healthy Ireland, he said, revealed the number of youth smokers in Ireland is rising for the first time in decades – from 13.1% in 2015 to 14.4% in 2019.

In its pre-Budget 2024 submission, the charity also recommended price hikes for electronic cigarette liquid – but not to overly penalise those using vapes as a cessation method.

“An e-cig refill costs €5 and disposable products are nearly €8, so it is almost half the price for young people to vape than it is to smoke,” Mr Macey said.

The 10 cent per millilitre of e-liquid tax proposed by the Irish Heart Foundation would typically increase the price of disposable e-cigarettes by 25%, or €2 per single use vape.

"Some people use vapes as a quit tool, and the increase we propose strikes a balance between a price which will deter children but won’t deter adults who are genuinely trying to quit."

Chris Macey

The charity also wants the Government to drastically increase its investment in anti-smoking initiatives.

Mr Macey said smokers pay around €1.2 billion in additional tobacco taxes each year, but only a fraction of this is spent on trying to help them quit.

“The HSE advises that smokers are up to twice as likely to quit when they receive support from a trained advisor and up to four times more likely to quit if they also use stop smoking medication,” he said.

“But last year, the State invested €15.7 million in trying to help smokers beat the habit.

“Given that there are around 4,500 smoking deaths a year, we want the Government to invest €50 million a year in anti-smoking drives.”

The charity, which campaigns on public health issues for heart and stroke patients, is also calling for the introduction of a national heart failure registry, a five-year hypertension national awareness campaign, and a high-level review of taxation to incentivise a reduction of high amounts of fat, salt and sugar in food.

Read our 2024 Pre-Budget Submission

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