The Irish Heart Foundation has welcomed the 50c budget increase in the price of a packet of cigarettes but warned more must be done to put tobacco and e-cigarettes out of the purchasing reach of young people.
The charity had called for the phased introduction of a €20 charge for a packet of cigarettes by 2025 and a new excise tax of 6c per millilitre of e-cigarette liquid to prevent youngsters becoming addicted to nicotine.
“The 50c increase on a packet of cigarettes, and pro-rata on other tobacco products, is welcome but much more needs to be done. We are disappointed that there is no taxation on e-cigarette liquid.
“Tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable death in Ireland with almost 6,000 smokers dying each year from tobacco related diseases. A healthier future is contingent on discouraging smoking and taking bold action.
“The Programme for Government was explicit in the role of a targeted taxation regime to specifically discourage vaping and e-cigarettes, and there is clear evidence that tax increases on e-cigarettes are effective in reducing youth use.
“The Health Research Board found a three to five times fold increased likelihood between e-cigarette use and initiating smoking cigarettes in adolescents.
“The smoking rate among 15-16 year olds has been cut from 41 percent to 12 percent over a 20 year period.
“We cannot give up these hard-won health gains by allowing a new generation of children to become addicted to nicotine through an e-cigarette industry that is largely controlled by big tobacco.
“During the Covid pandemic, when our respiratory and cardiovascular health is paramount, it is disappointing that the Government failed to do more in the drive to achieve a Tobacco-Free Ireland,” Irish Heart Foundation head of advocacy, Chris Macey, said.