The Government has been urged to tax so-called 'heated cigarettes', targeted at young people, at the highest rate imposed on tobacco products.
Multinational cigarette companies have spent billions researching new products in a desperate effort to offset the big downturn in regular tobacco sales. One tobacco giant, Philip Morris, has spent an estimated €3bn researching the product, which involves inserting rolls of tobacco into a pen-sized device that heats, rather than burns it.
However, the World Health Organisation has warned that all forms of tobacco use are harmful, including heated cigarettes. The WHO also says there is no reliable evidence that these products are any less harmful than regular cigarettes.
Now, Fine Gael TD for Dublin South-West Colm Brophy has called for those 'heated cigarette' products to be taxed at the same rate as regular cigarettes - the highest rate for tobacco products - when they are introduced to Ireland.
"Heated cigarettes are the latest gimmick from the tobacco industry. Rolls of tobacco are heated and smoked after insertion into an electronic device," Mr Brophy said.
"They are being marketed at young people and it is expected that tobacco companies will introduce heated cigarettes to Ireland in the very near future.
"At the moment, there is no common EU definition on taxation of heated cigarettes.
"That is why Ireland should put in an additional standalone category of taxation for heated cigarette products, as they will be introduced here soon," the Fine Gael TD predicted.
Mr Brophy, who was elected to the Dáil for the first time in 2016, also said this move would protect Government revenues.
"The State should not be subventing the profits of tobacco companies by giving them lower taxation rates on this product, such as the lower rates of tax on other tobacco products, including rolling tobacco and pipe tobacco," Mr Brophy added.
He urged Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe to ensure that the new products are taxed at the same rate as regular cigarettes - the highest rate for tobacco products - when they are introduced to Ireland, as they are also a health danger.