Sunday 10 December 2017

Old reliables: Bad news for smokers but price of pint remains the same

The price of a packet of cigarette has jumped again
The price of a packet of cigarette has jumped again
Jerome Reilly

Jerome Reilly

CIGARETTES will rise by 50c a pack from midnight tonight, Finance Minister Michael Noonan’s only tax hike in his fifth budget.

It means a 20 a day habit at €10.50 a pack  will  now cost a staggering  €73.50 a week or just shy of €300 per month.

That’s enough each month to finance an entry level Mercedes A Class  – subject to a very hefty deposit of €1,400.

The hike, widely expected, means  Ireland now has the most expensive cigarettes in the EU.

Overall in Europe, only Norway has more highly taxed tobacco.

When Taoiseach Enda Kenny made his maiden speech in the Dail in 1975 "Carrolls Number I", the then market leader, was  34p per packet of twenty and 17p for a pack of ten.

Smokers' group Forest Eireann described the hike as "unwarranted", "excessive" and an "attack on the poor and the elderly".

But Mr Noonan said the  monies raised  by the excise duty/VAT hike,  €61.4m,  would help fund new healthcare initiatives for families.

Dr Ross Morgan, Chairman of ASH Ireland ( Action on Smoking and Health) said: “If the Government is to achieve its objective of establishing a smoke-free Ireland by 2025 then it must consistently increase the price of tobacco.  Current smoking levels at approximately 19.5pc are down from 29pc in 2003.  It would be possible to reduce smoking levels by a further 10pc at least in the next 10 years.

Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS), which represents almost 3,000 retailers, said the increase would boost  tobacco smuggling.

“It beggars belief that the Government would decide to increase excise at a time when smuggling remains a huge problem and keeps severely damaging our trade,”  RAS spokesman Benny Gilsenan declared.

The price hike comes at a time when the Department of Health is carrying out a €50,000 study to help establish the true cost of smoking to the healthcare system.

Study after study has shown that  smoking kills.

One in every two smokers will die of a tobacco-related disease, which in Ireland translates to at least 5,200 deaths annually.

However, Mr Noonan decided not to raise tax on the price of alcohol - with a pint and a bottle of wine to remain at the same price as currently.

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