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Raise price of cigarettes to €20 a pack by 2025, government told

The Irish Heart Foundation is arguing for the move in its pre-Budget submission.

File photo
File photo
Image: Shutterstock/fongbeerredhot

THE 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, the Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) has said. 

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.

A poll by Amarách Research for Claire Byrne Live at the time found that most people wanted the cost of cigarettes to be increased by €5, with the extra money to be ring-fenced to fund cancer treatments. 

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.

 There is conclusive evidence that ad campaigns and support services, such as cessation clinics, quitlines and medications can significantly increase a smoker’s motivation to quit and then their chances of kicking the habit for good.

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Sean Murray

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