Michael Noonan, Ireland’s Minister of Finances, dismissed a move to introduce a 15-Euro price tag per pack of cigarettes on grounds that it would likely result in the growth of tobacco trafficking.
Minister of Health James Reilly was eager to implement a gradual price hike for cigarettes, which would raise the price of a pack of cigarettes by 65 percent in six years.
However, Finance Minister said it would be a “shock” tactic, since the legal businesses across the country have already been deeply affected by black market, due to the current average cost of 9.10 Euro, with state losing 250million Euro annually in missed revenue to the market of smuggled cigarettes.
The price hike is part of the set of anti-smoking measures introduced by the Health Ministry, which also intends to promulgate a bill to prohibit smoking in vehicles with children and in outdoor public venues, like parks and beaches.
Attractive target for smugglers
According to the Irish Heath Minister, there is a convincing case to reason a considerable increase in the cigarette cost, which accounted for 1 Euro hike in 2012, followed by identical increase each year during the subsequent five years to 2017.
However, the Finance Ministry claimed that Ireland is already home to the highest cigarette prices in European Union, making it a very attractive target for cigarette traffickers.
According to the data provided by the Revenue Commissioners, 20 percent of cigarettes purchased in Ireland do not have state excise tax, being counterfeit or smuggled.
Today, for a two-pack-a-day Irish smoker, the pernicious habit costs as much as 276 Euro each month.
Last December, the Budget adopted by the government, included the increase of excise tax on cigarettes by 25 percent, which generated nearly 17 million Euros for the state in 2012.
The Ireland Cancer Society called for the excise tax increase of 1Euro per pack of 20 cigarettes, which would generate nearly 68Million.
The health advocating group used a study carried out in Spain, which concluded that the actual price of cigarettes was 75 Euro for women and 107 Euro for men, after additional medical expenses were calculated.
John Mallon, director of Irish office of FOREST, a group advocating for smokers’ rights, criticized the bill to ban smoking in vehicles in presence of minors, saying that the overwhelming majority of responsible and caring parents never smoke, when driving with children, and introducing a law to regulate something that is already dictated by common since would be too excessive and unneeded.
When commenting on the proposed price hike, Health Minister said that it would be a strong reason for smokers to quit their habit, and make the cigarettes not affordable for adolescents. In addition, the so-called shock tactic of dramatic one time price hike is more effective than the annually price increase, according to the minister.