Government told to raise price of cigarettes to €20 a pack by 2025
The Irish Heart Foundation say the Irish government should raise the price of a packet of cigarettes in the next six budgets to €20 a pack by 2025 as part of a dynamic approach to reducing smoking rates in Ireland.
According to the IHF, around 20% of people in Ireland over the age of 16 – around 800,000 people – are current smokers. Department of Health figures also suggest the number of adults smoking in Ireland has declined by around 80,000 in the past few years.
In its pre-Budget submission to the government, the IHF said that raising the price of cigarettes to this level along with quadrupling funding for quit smoking services would help the government achieve its goal of fewer than 5% of the population smoking by 2025.
A packet of 20 cigarettes costs roughly €13, and raising this by around €1.17 a pack in the next six Budgets would mean the price of a pack would reach €20.
In the most recent Budget, the government increased the price of a packet of cigarettes by 50c.
The government’s plan for 5% of the adult population to be smokers by 2025 was mooted by then-Health Minister James Reilly as far back as 2013. Minister Simon Harris has also expressed the desire for smoking rates to continue declining, saying: “We must continue to prioritise and enhance the supports and encouragement people need to quit smoking once and for all.”
The IHF said even higher price increases have been imposed in Australia, with the price hiking by around 75% since 2012.
It argued that while it would help to reduce the effect of tobacco on the nation’s health, there is also a strong economic case for greater investment in quit services as it would reduce the need for people to be treated with tobacco-related illnesses.
Its head of advocacy Chris Macey said: “Evidence shows that tax increases are the most effective way of reducing smoking rates. A dual approach that combines this with improved support for the vast majority of smokers who want to quit is vital if the Government is serious about hitting this target.