'Heated cigarettes coming, tax them at highest rate', says TD
The Government has been urged to tax so-called heated cigarettes - targeted at young people - at the highest rate imposed on tobacco products.
Global cigarette companies have spent billions researching new products in a desperate effort to offset the big downturn in regular tobacco sales.
Philip Morris has spent an estimated €3bn researching the product, which involves inserting rolls of tobacco into a pen-sized device which heats rather than burns it.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that all forms of tobacco use are harmful, including heated cigarettes.
It also says there is no reli- able evidence that these products are any less harmful than regular cigarettes.
Fine Gael TD for Dublin South-West, Colm Brophy, has called for heated cigarette products to be taxed at the same rate as regular cigarettes - the highest rate for tobacco products - when they are introduced to Ireland.
"Heated cigarettes are the latest gimmick from the tobacco industry. Rolls of tobacco are heated and smoked after insertion into an electronic device," he said.
"They are being marketed at young people, and it is expected that tobacco companies will introduce heated cigarettes to Ireland in the very near future.
"At the moment, there is no common EU definition on taxation of heated cigarettes.
"That is why Ireland should put in an additional stand-alone category of taxation for heated cigarette products as they will be introduced here soon."
Mr Brophy, a new TD elected in 2016, also said this move would protect government revenues.
"The State should not be subventing the profits of tobacco companies by giving them lower taxation rates on this product, such as the lower rates of tax on other tobacco products such as rolling tob- acco and pipe tobacco," he said.
He urged Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe to ensure that the new products are taxed at the same rate as regular cigar- ettes - the highest rate - when they are introduced here.
"They should be subject to regulatory measures applied to all cigarette products," said Mr Brophy.
"The Government is committed to a tobacco-free Ireland by 2025. It will never reach that target if heated cigarettes are cheaper than regular cigarettes."