The price of a pack of cigarettes has continued to increase in recent years – Budget 2016 saw this rise to more than €10 for the first time. And, as we head towards October, a further increase of 50c has been proposed by the Irish Cancer Society and the Irish Heart Foundation for Budget 2017.
The two charities say that this move would reduce the number of young people who smoke in Ireland, which currently stands at 8.3% of those aged between 10 and 17. “Higher prices will mean fewer smokers, particularly in the under-18 age group. We have already seen that the number of children smoking falls with increasing price,” said Donal Buggy, head of services and advocacy at the Irish Cancer Society. “We want the Government to move the affordability of smoking further out of reach from young people. The Government has committed that Ireland will be tobacco-free by 2025 so every tool we have to discourage children from smoking has to be used to make this vision a reality.”
According to research conducted by both organisations, price is the deciding factor for teens who smoke. The Irish Heart Foundation has called for a rise in tobacco prices in correlation with inflation plus 5%, which they say would act as a deterrent to smokers and encourage them to seek support. Both charities have also called for comprehensive supports alongside any price increases, calling for more community-based quitting services to be made available.
The full range of measures which are being sought by the Irish Heart Foundation and Irish Cancer Society also include increased taxation on rolling tobacco, free nicotine replacement therapy for those enrolled in smoking cessation programmes, a levy on the tobacco industry’s profits to boost support services, and a national strategy to combat the illicit tobacco trade.