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Government facing calls to introduce new tax on e-cigarettes

The Irish Heart Foundation is urging the Government to introduce an excise tax of 6c per millilitre of e-cigarette liquid.

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Irish Heart Foundation head of advocacy Chris Macey (IHF)

Irish Heart Foundation head of advocacy Chris Macey (IHF)

Irish Heart Foundation head of advocacy Chris Macey (IHF)

The Government is facing calls to introduce a new tax on e-cigarettes in next week’s Budget and to raise the cost of 20 cigarettes to 20 euro by 2025.

The Irish Heart Foundation is urging the Government to introduce an excise tax of 6c per millilitre of e-cigarette liquid – which would add in the region of 10-25% to the price of e-cigarettes.

It is also calling on the Government to increase the price of the most popular price category of cigarettes from its current level of 13.70 euro to 20 euro through a series of five annual tax increases.

Chris Macey, Irish Heart Foundation head of advocacy, said e-cigarettes must be priced out of the purchasing reach of children and adolescents, but remain affordable for adults who are using them as a smoking cessation device.

“Any e-cigarette excise tax must be accompanied by a larger increase in tobacco excise tax to ensure users are deterred from moving back to traditional cigarettes and roll-your-own as the balance of current evidence suggests they are significantly more harmful to health,” Mr Macey added.

We cannot give up these hard-won health gains by allowing a new generation of children to become addicted to nicotineChris Macey

The national heart and stroke charity says measures to increase the cost of vaping are “unavoidable” in the wake of research which shows that young people who start using e-cigarettes are four times more likely to move on to using cigarettes.

“The smoking rate among 15 to 16-year-olds has been cut from 41% to 12% over a 20-year period. We cannot give up these hard-won health gains by allowing a new generation of children to become addicted to nicotine through an e-cigarette industry that is largely controlled by big tobacco,” Mr Macey added.

“Some 22% of teenagers in Ireland have used e-cigarettes and whilst the international industry claims they are only intended to help long-term smokers to quit, branding that features cartoon characters, flavours such as candyfloss and bubblegum and aggressive marketing tactics on social media platforms used by teenagers show this claim is preposterous.”

Mr Macey added that evidence showed that tax increases on e-cigarettes were effective in reducing youth use, but added that the Irish Heart Foundation did not want these increases to be of “a magnitude” that could push smokers trying to quit, back to cigarettes.

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In its submission ahead of Budget day next Tuesday, the Foundation says that 17% of the population over 16, or some 680,000 people, are still classed as current smokers.

“The number of current smokers in Ireland is continuing to fall, but to achieve a Tobacco-Free Ireland we need further net reductions of around 100,000 smokers each year for the next five years to hit the target,” said Mr Macey.

“A dual approach of high tax increases which the evidence shows is the most effective way of reducing smoking rates, along with much better support for the vast majority of smokers who want to quit, is vital if the Government is serious about hitting this target.”

The Foundation is also proposing increasing funding to help smokers quit, including medications, smoking cessation services, the national quitline and mass media campaigns which currently totals 11.8 million euro, up to 50 million euro a year.


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