Ireland Must Follow UK And Ban Smoking For Next Generation

We note the calls from a number of non – governmental agencies for the Irish Government to mimic the gimmicky policy announcements of the beleaguered UK prime minister Rishi Sunak and increase on an incremental basis the legal age at which people could purchase tobacco products. (see article here)
Aside from the lack of evidence that such a policy, were it to somehow be implemented, would be effective as a Public Health measure, the primary beneficiaries would be those dealing with smuggled tobacco. According to the official IPSOS MRBI 2022 Annual survey carried out for Revenue and the Department of Health, a staggering 30% of all cigarettes consumed in the Republic were not sold in Irish stores and did not contribute to the Exchequer.
A policy to reduce consumption of tobacco needs to be mindful that I’ll- conceived measures such as this one would have disastrous consequences for shop workers attempting to police a measure while it would not have any similar restrictions for those persons bringing Duty Free and purchases from other Member States once excises were paid in those countries. This cohort represents 13% of all tobacco consumed, up by more than 50% on pre-Covid statistics.
Unless the State shuts down the growing supply chain that it has permitted to develop over the past decades , they will be penalising law-abiding retailers selling a legitimate product while assisting thugs and criminals to enrich themselves.
There are a range of measures that the State can and should implement to further its efforts.
  1.  Limit the number of cigarettes a traveller coming into the country can bring in with them to 200,
  2. Refuse to accept any tobacco product as Duty Free in line with a denormalisation policy- value should not be obtainable for a carcinogenic product.
  3. Change the law that grants the tobacco companies the sole right to set the retail price of cigarettes. Retailers are fully aware that this law allows manipulation and price-setting for certain brands and “Big Boxes”.
  4. Big Boxes increase tobacco consumption. Every retailer is intimately aware of the behaviour of their customers and knows what makes them make certain purchasing decisions ; the market for Big Boxes is now almost 30% of all packs sold in our stores, a figure that is unparalleled in any other European country, due to the cynical price manipulation carried out by each of the 4 tobacco companies serving the Irish market. It’s high time the Department of Health acknowledged the added danger to Public Health posed by Big Boxes and either take measures to ensure that they are only sold as at the same per stick price as their 20 counterparts, or ban them altogether.