Forest and ASH clash over further cigarette taxes- Eoghan McNeill

Forest and ASH clash over further cigarette taxesThe price of a box of cigarettes has risen by 10c in today’s budget. A 50c environmental levy has not been introduced on cigarette packs, nor has Vat been reduced on nicotine replacement packs.

Anti-smoking lobby, ASH Ireland, and smokers’ rights group, Forest Eireann condemned the measure alike.

John Mallon – Forest Eireann – speaking to News Anois said that any rise in price will “send people to the streets” for counterfeit cigarettes.  This not only diverts funds from the revenue, but criminalises smokers. He said that the government are not helping Irish people lead healthier lives, but “creating a criminal problem”.

He went on to say that the measure is a simple revenue generator: “the government don’t give a shit about our health.”

Wally Young of ASH Ireland said that the organisation would support “any initiative to demoralise smoking”. He said that these initiatives are supported “with the health of the nation in mind”, not extra tax revenue. His organisation, although supportive of price hikes for cigarettes, were disappointed with the “mere” 10c rise.

Dr. Ross Morgan, Chairman of ASH, argued that the issue of tobacco smuggling must be treated as a separate, criminal issue.

The 10c rise was also criticised by the Irish Heart Foundation, who deemed it “paltry”.

Smokers outside DIT Aungier St. did not think that the price increase will have any effect on student smokers.

Gary O’Shaughnessy, Marketing, hates that he smokes. He would support any measures to make the country smoke-free, but can’t see the worth of rises in excise duty.

He said that “it doesn’t matter how expensive cigarettes are; they’ll always be too dear.”  He also said that he’ll never visit Moore Street’s counterfeit cigarette vendors, reasoning that “smokes are bad enough when you know what’s in them.”

Daniel Deasy, Tony Jameson and Sean Cullen, thought that the move was not conceived to wean smokers off cigarettes, but to generate extra tax revenue.  The three Marketing students have no plans to try counterfeit cigarettes, but have all switched to “rollies” – partially due to cost reasons.