Tuesday 12 December 2017

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Taxed: Sugar, sunbeds and cigarettes

Wednesday, 11th October, 2017 4:57pm

Price increases on cigarettes and sunbeds and a new sugar tax have been met with mixed reactions.

Tuesday's Budget included a 50 cent rise in the price of cigarettes.

It also featured a rise in VAT on the use of sunbeds to 23 per cent and a tiered tax on soft drinks.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) welcomed the tobacco price increases, which will see the price of a 20 box of cigarettes rise to €12.

Dr Patrick Doorley, Chairman of ASH Ireland said: “Significant inroads have been made in regard to smoking prevalence, with current levels down to less than 20 per cent.

"Smoking levels can be further reduced over the next decade if there are consistent price increases combined with other measures like standardised packaging."

He continued: “Smuggling of tobacco into this country is a major issue, however we must also be wary of tobacco industry efforts to use smuggling as a reason for not introducing measures which can improve the nation’s health."

Cork based smokers group Forest Ireland was critical of the tobacco price hikes however, saying they discriminated against the less fortunate and would fuel illicit trade.

Forest spokesman John Mallon 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.”

A SUGAR HIGH

Meanwhile Irish Heart Head of Advocacy Chris Macey said the sugared drinks levy was “a landmark day” in the country’s fight against obesity.

The tax will apply at 30 cent a litre for drinks with over eight grams of sugar per 100ml and at 20 cent per litre for drinks with sugar content of between five grams and eight grams per 100ml.

Mr Macey said: “The introduction of a sugar sweetened drinks levy is probably the single most important action Government can take to tackle Ireland’s obesity crisis.

“The Minister’s announcement demonstrates a significant commitment on the part of Government to meet its duty of care to protect the health of children in particular.

“We are also encouraged by indications that the measure is already proving effective by prompting beverage companies to reduce sugar content to ensure products fall below the threshold for the tax.”

Mr Macey said further initiatives to improve children’s health could be introduced including family food initiatives and expansion of the school meals programme.

SUNBEDS

The Irish Cancer Society, in addition to welcoming the price increases on cigarettes, praised the increased VAT rate on sunbed sessions.

Head of Services and Advocacy Donal Buggy said: “There is a direct link between sunbed use and skin cancer, so we are delighted to see the Government address an anomaly which saw sunbed sessions charged at a reduced VAT rate of 13.5 per cent.”

Mr Buggy said the organisation would also like to see a complete or partial ban on sunbeds in the future.

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