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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 116 & 475 - Tobacco control measures [33599/17 & 33594/17].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 116 & 475 - Tobacco control measures [33599/17 & 33594/17]. (13 Jul 2017)

URL: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2017...


116. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Finance the amount a person currently pays for the cheapest roll-your-own tobacco product, RYO, and the cheapest pack of cigarettes in a shop; his views on whether the minimum RYO pack size of 30g will likely lead to increased illicit RYO products on the black market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33599/17]

 

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): I am informed by Revenue that the current price of the cheapest 30g pack of roll your own tobacco product is €14.50 and the current price of the cheapest pack of 20 cigarettes available on the retail market is €9.00.

 

The European Union (Manufacture, Presentation and Sale of Tobacco and Related Products) Regulations 2016, made by my colleague the Minister for Health, require that retail packets of roll-your-own tobacco contain tobacco weighing not less than 30 grams.  This has been introduced by the Minister with effect from May 2017 as a public health measure and follows on from a range of such initiatives in the tobacco market in recent years.  

 

It should be noted that while the minimum size of a roll your own packet that can be purchased has increased, the price per kilo to the consumer is not affected and it is not clear if the change will lead to increased demand for illicit supplies.   Ireland, like all countries with high tobacco prices is an attractive target for smuggling.  The priority for dealing with the smuggling of illicit tobacco products continues to be the effectiveness of enforcement action by Revenue.  Such action includes risk analysis and screening of cargo and postal products, cooperation at national and international level and effective use of detection technologies.  Revenue also target the illicit trade at post-importation level by carrying out intelligence-based operations and random checks at retail outlets, markets and private and commercial premises.  The Government has also ensured through the Finance Acts over recent years that Revenue has the statutory powers necessary for undertaking its important work against the illegal tobacco trade, including enhanced Revenue powers of search and inspection for illicit products.  I am assured by Revenue that action against illegal activity involving tobacco products will continue to be a high priority.

 

475. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Health if the Health Service Executive will be reviewing its roll-your-own tobacco survey, which failed to mention that since May 2017 retailers can only sell a minimum 30g pack of RYO and this product is more expensive than a pack of cigarettes (details supplied); his views on whether this will likely lead to an increase in smuggled RYO product; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33594/17]

 

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Catherine Byrne):  The survey published by the Health Service Executive relates to the relative increase in consumption of roll-your-own tobacco up to 2014 which has also been identified by the Tax Strategy Group. Tobacco Free Ireland, the Report of the Tobacco Policy Review was endorsed by Government and published in 2013. It set a target for Ireland to be tobacco free (smoking prevalence <5%) by 2025. One of the recommendations in the report was to increase duty on roll-your-own tobacco products to reduce the differential in price between manufactured cigarettes and other tobacco products. In Budgets 2013 and 2015 the rate of duty applying to roll-your-own tobacco was increased proportionally more than for manufactured cigarettes, however, substantial differential still remains.

 

In Budget 2017 (11 October 2016) the rate of duty applying to manufactured cigarettes was set at €288.22 per 1000 cigarettes plus 9.52% of the retail price or a minimum tax of €325.11 per 1000 cigarettes. The rate of duty for roll-your–own tobacco was set at €310.189 per kilogram. A kilogram of roll-your-own tobacco would be expected to yield a minimum of 1,320 cigarettes, hence the approximate rate of duty applying to 1000 roll-your-own cigarettes is €234.992, still substantially less that the rate of duty applying to manufactured cigarettes.

 

I am informed by the Office of the Revenue Commissioners ('Revenue') that while the minimum size of a roll-your-own packet that can be purchased has increased, the price per kilo to the consumer is not affected and it is not clear if the change will lead to increased demand for illicit supplies. Ireland, like all countries with high tobacco prices is an attractive target for smuggling. The priority for dealing with the smuggling of illicit tobacco products continues to be the effectiveness of enforcement action by Revenue. Such action includes risk analysis and screening of cargo and postal products, cooperation at national and international level and effective use of detection technologies.

Revenue also targets the illicit trade at post-importation level by carrying out intelligence-based operations and random checks at retail outlets, markets and private and commercial premises. The Government has also ensured through the Finance Acts over recent years that Revenue has the statutory powers necessary for undertaking its important work against the illegal tobacco trade, including enhanced powers of search and inspection for illicit products. I am assured by Revenue that action against illegal activity involving tobacco products will continue to be a high priority.

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