Health groups in Ireland are calling on the Government to increase the tax on cigarettes at a higher rate than inflation to help cover the costs of smoking related illnesses.
The Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) and the Irish Cancer Society (ICS) say that smoking related illnesses cost the country around €2bn per year. The tax on cigarettes only generated €1.42bn in 2011.
The campaigners recommend a price escalator for all tobacco products. They say it should be at least 5% above inflation which, given that the annual inflation rate is around 1.2%, would start at a 6.2% increase.
They say this will benefit the Exchequer rather than the tobacco companies.
According to the Department of Health around 7,000 people die every year from smoking related illnesses in Ireland. That is an average of just over 19 people per day.
Some tobacco firms have profit margins of up to 55% after duties. The IHF and ICS say that if the companies’ profits were reduced to around 12-20% the Government would have an extra €65m revenue to cover the extra cost of smoking related illnesses.