The price of a pack of 20 cigarettes has been hiked by 50c to around €11, but the price of a pint will remain the same.
It is the fifth year in a row the cost of cigarettes has been increased as the Government aims to reduce, by 2025, the prevalence of smoking to below 5% of the population.
Donal Buggy, head of services and advocacy at the Irish Cancer Society, said the price hike sent a strong signal to the tobacco industry the Government was serious in its aim to achieve a tobacco-free Ireland.
“Regular, sharp, increases in price send a clear message to smokers that prices will continue to rise and will act as an incentive to quit,” he said. “Price increases, while hugely important in increasing quit rates, need to be accompanied by readily available supports for smokers to quit.
“Making nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) available free of charge to all those enrolled in smoking cessation programmes, would help ensure that the two-thirds of smokers who want to quit get the support they need.”
However, the Irish Vape Vendors Association (IVVA) said, in order to reduce the amount of death and disease caused by smoking, harm reduction policies such as those recently introduced in Britain must be considered.
“In England, in particular, there’s a shift towards encouraging the use of vaping as a substitute for smoking lit tobacco and the rewards for that fresh thinking are beginning to show. Some NHS hospital trusts have lifted their campus bans on the use of electronic cigarettes. Leicester and Bristol councils openly embrace cross-sector co-operation between vape shops and public health services to educate smokers on the benefits of making the switch from smoking to vaping,” said IVVA administrator Gillian Golden.
Forest Ireland spokesman John Mallon said if the Government was serious about reducing the number of smokers, it would introduce subsidies for e-cigarettes.
Ross Mac Mathúna, director of the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland, said the decision not to reduce excise on alcohol was a “missed opportunity”.
“The reality is excise is a tax on jobs, consumers and tourism and needs to be reduced. A cut in excise would positively impact jobs and small businesses in every town and village across the country in a time of increasing economic uncertainty.”
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