The upcoming budget offers the Government an opportunity to call the bluff of the tobacco industry, according to the Irish Cancer Society.
The link between illegal smuggling of cigarettes and increases in tobacco taxation is a myth that needs to be challenged, the Society yesterday told the Oireachtas Finance Committee.
As part of their pre-budget submission, the cancer society called for a ‘price escalator’ on cigarettes that would see an annual increase of 50c.
According to the society, this will not lead to an increase in illicit trade of cigarettes despite claims from the tobacco industry.
“The truth is the tobacco smuggling rate is steadily falling,” said ICS head of advocacy and communications, Kathleen O’Meara.
“The Revenue Commissioners publish figures on the illicit tobacco trade and the percentage of illegal cigarettes coming into Ireland is falling at a rate of 1% per year. It has gone from 14% in 2011 to 13% in 2012 and the latest figures show 11% of cigarettes in Ireland are illegal.
“In the past number of weeks and in particular in the debate on standardised packaging of cigarettes, the tobacco industry has been consistently overstating the rate of illicit tobacco,” added Ms O’Meara.
National Federation of Retail Newsagents public affairs manager, Deirdre Drennan said, however, that there is a demand for illegally-traded cigarettes and that the Federation would be opposed to any priceincreases.
“We would be absolutely against any such move. It would make the illegal product more appealing and give criminals the opportunity to increase their price point,” said Ms Drennan.
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