The Irish Government is facing calls to to introduce a new e-cigarette tax into the budget which is due next week.
The Irish Heart Foundation is asking the Government to consider an excise tax of 6c per millilitre of e-cigarette liquid which would add 10-25 percent to the price.
It is also asking that the budget increase the price of the most popular price category of cigarettes from €13.70 to €20 through a series of annual tax increases.
Chris Macey, head of advocacy at the Irish Heart Foundation, said that a larger tax increase on tobacco would help deter vapers from switching back to smoking.
“The smoking rate among 15 to 16-year-olds has been cut from 41% to 12% over a 20-year period.
“We cannot give up these hard-won health gains by allowing a new generation of children to become addicted to nicotine through an e-cigarette industry that is largely controlled by big tobacco.”
Macey said that over a fifth of teenagers in Ireland had used e-cigarettes.
He was also sceptical of the claim that the industry targeted products at adult, long-term smokers.
Macey argued that ‘branding that features cartoon characters, flavours such as candyfloss and bubblegum and aggressive marketing tactics on social media platforms used by teenagers show this claim is preposterous.’
Macey added that studies showed that tax increases on e-cigarettes had proven to be effective in reducing youth use.
“The number of current smokers in Ireland is continuing to fall, but to achieve a Tobacco-Free Ireland we need further net reductions of around 100,000 smokers each year for the next five years to hit the target.
“A dual approach of high tax increases which the evidence shows is the most effective way of reducing smoking rates, along with much better support for the vast majority of smokers who want to quit, is vital if the Government is serious about hitting this target.”
The Irish Heart Foundation is also calling for increased funding for medication and smoking cessation services to help smokers quit.
Story Source: Belfast Telegraph