Irish Heart Foundation condemns inaction on sugar tax
on 15/10/2013 15:47:57
Chris Macey, Head of Advocacy with the Irish Heart Foundation said: "The Irish Heart Foundation is disappointed at the Government's failure to act on its own expert advice to tackle the obesity crisis through extra taxation to reduce consumption of sugary drinks.
"After years of hand-wringing, the State has still taken little practical action that will impact on rates of obesity and overweight that affect one in four three-year-olds; one in four primary school children; and one in five teenagers in Ireland.
He claimed that research shows an extra tax of just 10% on sugary drinks would reduce the number of obese adults alone by 10,000.
Mr Macey said: "But yet again the Government has put the profits of the multinationals ahead of public health - even though the tax and subsidy approach would result in a net jobs benefit for this country.
"The Government is also giving a profits boost to the tobacco industry by failing to substantially increase tax on cigarettes on the grounds that it will fuel smuggling. The fact is that the tobacco smuggling rate is vastly overestimated by the tobacco industry and the real rate fell last year from 15% to 13% according to Revenue research.
"Having argued against tax increases which are the biggest deterrent to young people taking up smoking, the cigarette companies will now jack up their prices - like they have done for each of the last 10 years - effectively transferring the extra revenue from the public purse to their own profits.
"This is an opportunity lost on two fronts by the Government - to reduce smoking and obesity rates, particularly among children. The repeated failure to use tax policy to help protect public health represents a failure in the State's duty of care to its citizens."
Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS) have also criticised the excise increase on cigarettes saying that while the increase was small, the Government's actions would only benefit criminal gangs who smuggle and sell illegal cigarettes in Ireland.
RAS said that the increase would harm independent retailers the most as they depend on cigarette sales to generate footfall to their stores.
Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS) spokesman Benny Gilsenan said: "About one third of independent retailers' sales come from cigarettes and impulse items and we are concerned that this decision will drive more and more of our customers to the illegal sellers.
"Instead of raising more taxes for the State, the measure would have the opposite effect, RAS said, because it would encourage increasing numbers of consumers to purchase their cigarettes on the black market."