Hike tax on 'rollies' says Crown
Leading cancer specialist and Senator John Crown has launched a scathing attack on the increasing popularity of the 'Combi Box' among young cigarette smokers, which he describes as "starter packs" for children.
'Combi' cigarette boxes contain a 9g pouch of tobacco, cigarette papers and filters and is seen as 'better value' for smokers who get more for their money, pay less tax, but have to roll their own cigarettes.
Dr Crown and the Irish Cancer Society have alleged that the 'roll your own' industry is targeting young people and providing them with "an introduction" to smoking.
"I have ceased to be surprised by the marketing techniques of the tobacco industry," said Dr Crown.
"This is not because they are not innovative, but because I know they will do anything, in order to addict our children to their deadly products . . . The entire business plan of the tobacco industry can be summed up in four words: addict children to carcinogens."
Roll your own cigarettes attract less government tax and retail at about €4 compared with packets of 'stick' cigarettes which now cost €10.50 for a pack of 20.
Eoin Bradley of the Irish Cancer Society (ICS) says that his organisation has lobbied the Department of Finance without success to tax 'roll your own tobacco' on a pro- rata basis with manufactured cigarettes.
Mr Bradley, advocacy officer with the ICS, says the 'Combi Box' is increasing the popularity of smoking and "making it easier for young people to switch" to roll your own as cigarette packets have become too expensive.
"They have always targeted young people in their marketing - 78pc of smokers start before the age of 18," he said.