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Cost of cigarettes up to €12 a pack as finance minister targets a "fairer" Ireland

It was Budget day in Ireland yesterday.

New Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe surprised no-one when he announced that the price of a packet of 20 cigarettes would go up by 50c (same as last year), taking the average price to €12.

That's the sixth consecutive Budget excise duty on tobacco has been increased and it's helped confirm Ireland as the most expensive country in Europe to buy tobacco.

(The UK was the most expensive but with the pound weakening in relation to the euro Ireland has sneaked ahead again.)

Although the news was expected, John Mallon, Forest's man in Ireland, nevertheless found himself in demand. Within a couple of hours he gave interviews to TV3, RTE Radio 1, Newstalk and Today FM.

He was also on a panel of guests discussing the Budget on RTE television and was quoted by the Irish Examiner, Irish Independent, Irish Sun, Irish Daily Star, Cork Evening Echo and The Journal.

Here's our full response:

BUDGET 2018 – Campaigners say a further increase in tobacco duty announced today is “unfair” and “irresponsible” because it discriminates against the less well off and will fuel illicit trade.

John Mallon, spokesman for the smokers’ group Forest Ireland, said:

"Ireland is already the most expensive place in Europe to buy tobacco. Raising the price of cigarettes for the sixth consecutive budget is unfair because it disproportionately hurts those on lower incomes.

"Evidence shows that a hike in taxes fuels illicit trade. It’s no secret that Ireland has a serious problem with black market tobacco. Increasing the tax on tobacco is irresponsible because it will only make the situation worse."

He added: "Paschal Donohoe [Minister for Finance] talks of building a fairer Ireland. Raising tax on tobacco does nothing to achieve that aim. It robs law-abiding consumers of their hard-earned cash and enriches criminal gangs."

Needless to say John buys all his tobacco abroad and there will be thousands of smokers in the UK and Ireland who do exactly the same.

In fact it reminds me of a tweet the IEA's Mark Littlewood posted in the summer – see below. He won't be alone, I'm sure.

The loss of revenue to the British and Irish governments is immense yet they persist with a punitive taxation policy that not only costs money but edges more people towards poverty. I think that's immoral but the British and Irish governments seem to disagree.

Next month we'll find out if Philip Hammond intends to increase excise duty on tobacco for the second time this year. (The last increase was in March.)

If he does smokers will have a legitimate argument that they are being singled out for treatment that goes way beyond so-called nudging.

Talking of which, I have something to say about that too. Watch this space!

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Reader Comments (2)

Excessive tobacco taxes persecute smokers and benefit organized crime. Reduce tobacco taxes and stop the persecution of smokers.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017 at 21:12 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

Yes indeed. The hate campaign and extortion of cash from one targeted group of consumers singled out for abuse and discrimination is clearly a way to make Ireland and a fairer country.

Do these smokerphobic thugs ever hear themselves speak?

Thursday, October 12, 2017 at 11:40 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

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