Retailers oppose new tobacco licensing fee

Tobacco control has "gone far enough", according to a new survey by pro-smoking lobby Forest EU

NFRN Ireland has called the tenfold increase in tobacco licensing fee “grossly unfair”



17 October 2013

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NFRN Ireland has strongly opposed the increase in the licensing fee for retailers to sell tobacco products. The increase, which was not mentioned in the Finance Minister’s speech on 15 October, was confirmed that evening on the Department of Health’s website.

The current €50 licensing fee will see a tenfold increase in the coming months. This will mean both large multiplies and struggling independent retailers will now have to pay €500 for the same licence.

This is a move that NFRN Ireland has strongly opposed. It believes that the decision was made without a second thought being given to how it will impact on retail jobs in towns and villages across the country.

Commenting on the news, NFRN Ireland president Joe Sweeney said: "It is a grossly unfair imposition on smaller retailers who are already hugely compliant with all tobacco regulations as HSE monitoring confirms."

The Department of Health in a statement released on the budget stated: "The government proposes to increase the Retail Register fee during 2014 in the context of legislation to provide for the licensing of the sale of tobacco products as outlined in Tobacco Free Ireland which was approved by government in July of this year."

Sweeney believes that the increase in registration fees will result in some retailers moving out of the business altogether. This he says will not only cost jobs but will leave the market open for illicit traders to fill. "This new charge on retailers is a perverse and counter-productive policy decision that will bring delight and greater profits to the criminal and paramilitary gangs now flooding the Irish market with smuggled tobacco."

This remark comes following the Revenue Commissioners admitting last week that they are fighting a losing battle against smuggled tobacco. The Department of Finance also confirmed that excise duties on tobacco are down €100 million on projections for 2013 due to illicit trade.

Earlier this week, during a Dáil question session, Deputy Damien English, asked the Minister for Health to comment on his departments and the Revenue Commissioners participation in the high level implementation group to oversee the introduction of plain packaging of tobacco products and the impact illicit trading is having on jobs in the retail sector.

In response Dr James Reilly said: "A steering group on standardised packaging has been established to oversee the implementation of a project plan. This is an interdepartmental group and includes a representative from the Office of the Revenue Commissioners. The group has met twice to date.

"The group has no direct responsibility in relation to illicit tobacco. Revenue’s participation in the group is concerned with the accommodation of its needs, particularly in relation to the fiscal stamp, in the context of any new packaging arrangements.

"Revenue has advised that it is very aware of the negative impact that the illicit tobacco market has on legitimate business and on the exchequer and tackling this problem remains one of its key objectives." 



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