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Harris pushed for €1 increase on cigarettes and 75c on wine

There was a 50 cent increase on cigarettes in Budget 2017 but none of Harris’ recommendations on alcohol were included.

Image: wine image via Shutterstock

MINISTER FOR HEALTH Simon Harris pushed for specific excise increases on cigarettes and alcohol in Budget 2017, though he did not manage to secure them, it has emerged.

In a letter released to the Medical Independent, Harris sought an increase of €1 on the price of a 20-pack of cigarettes. He also recommended a 20 cent increase on spirits per half glass, 20 cents on beer per pint, 20 cents on a pint of cider and a 75 cent increase on wine per bottle.

Harris estimated the increase in duty on cigarettes could lead to an increased yield for the Exchequer of €128.3 million, while the alcohol increases would bring in an extra €256.1 million.

These specific increases did not make it into Budget 2017. A price increase of 50 cent was announced as part of budget measures, but there was no excise increase on any alcohol.

In response to a query from TheJournal.ie about the letter, the Department of Health pointed out tobacco use is “a significant cause of ill health in Ireland”.

“Almost 6,000 of our population die annually from tobacco-related disease and tobacco use has been estimated to cost Irish society €10.7 billion annually. Government has agreed, in line with the Tobacco Free Ireland policy, that pricing is a key means of reducing tobacco consumption,” it said.

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The Department also said alcohol has major public health implications and is responsible for a considerable burden of health, social and economic harm to individuals and families.

Alcohol is responsible for three deaths every day and has been estimated to cost the State €1.78 billion annually.

“Increasing excise duties on alcohol is internationally accepted as one of the most effective policy measures to control overall alcohol consumption, and reduce the harm caused to society,” the department added.

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