EU critical of low cost of tobacco and cigarettes
While is it true that Ireland has the highest excise tax on cigarettes of any country in the EU, the enduring low cost of cigarettes in other EU countries has prompted a report addressing the unsatisfactory results.
11 February 2020
Taxes on cigarettes are no longer a deterrent to smokers, according to a report published by the European Commission. The reports states that the EU’s minimum excise duty on cigarettes is “outdated”, and that HIGHER taxes are required to deter young people from taking up the habit.
That may sound surprising to Irish readers, given that Ireland has the highest tax on cigarettes in Europe, with a pack of 20 costing more than €11. However, that is compared to a cost of around €2.57 per pack in Bulgaria, €4.63 in Luxembourg and €4.74 in Switzeraland.
The EU’s report reveals that the rates of reduction in smoking predicted in a 2008 assessment have not been met. About 27.9% of adults (defined as over-15s) smoked in 2012 and 25.9% in 2017 – 2% drop which is considerably less than the 10% reduction predicted in 2008.
“The impact of taxation on dissuading youth from smoking in some member states has been lower than expected,” the report states, “due inter alia to the substitution of cigarettes with less expensive products like fine-cut tobacco or, in some member states, with water-pipe tobacco.
“There are serious concerns with the illicit trade levels for these two products,” it continues. “These levels jeopardise the achievement of tobacco control and health protection objectives.”
The report also notes that while countries with a strong health agenda drove up the price of cigarettes in order to deter younger smokers, this has also encouraged the smuggling of illicit tobacco into these areas.