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NRT ‘should be free’ — ICS and IHF

11 Sep 2015

The smoking rate among Irish adults has fallen below the 20 per cent mark for the first time since records began — that’s around 250,000 fewer smokers now than in 2009.

However, the Government has been urged to do more to help smokers to quit, including the introduction of a new levy to force tobacco companies enjoying profit margins of up to 60 per cent on cigarette sales in Ireland to pay the cost of helping smokers to quit.

According to a pre-Budget submission by the Irish Heart Foundation and Irish Cancer Society, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) should be available free of charge to all those enrolled in smoking cessation programmes. The charities have also called for the introduction of annual tax increases on tobacco products set at 5 per cent above the rate of inflation, which this year would result in a 50 cent price hike on a pack of cigarettes.

A 25 per cent levy on tobacco industry profits could yield up to €38 million in additional receipts to the Exchequer, which is around double the amount currently being spent by the State on assisting smokers to quit. “We believe tobacco companies should be held to account and forced to pay the price of helping people to quit and should also contribute more to the cost of the health catastrophe they continue to inflict on the people of this country,” said Chris Macey of the Irish Heart Foundation.

Kathleen O’Meara of the Irish Cancer Society added that by also diverting some of the extra revenue to fighting tobacco smugglers, the Government could achieve the double whammy of reducing the smoking rate and tackling the illicit trade at no extra cost to the Exchequer.

Gary Culliton

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Irish Medical Times