herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

'Scrap the condom tax to promote health and reduce STIs', says Kate

Fine Gael TD Kate O'Connell
Fine Gael TD Kate O'Connell

One of the capital's most prominent TDs has called on the Government to scrap the tax on condoms.

Fine Gael TD Kate O'Connell, who represents Dublin Bay South, last night said the proposed move would reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and make a positive contribution to society.

At present, a VAT rate of 13.5pc applies to contraceptives such as condoms - placing Ireland out of line with other EU states. The UK, for example, reduced the rate to 5pc a decade ago.

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has called on the Government to take a similar stance.

Last night, Ms O'Connell said she believed the issue should be tackled in the upcoming Budget, which will be delivered on October 10.

"It would be a progressive health promotion policy to reduce the rate to 0pc VAT on condoms in my view," Ms O'Connell told the Herald.

"Anything that promotes health and potentially reduces spread of infection is a positive for society. It makes both economic and medical sense.

Bizarre

"It's really bizarre when you examine VAT rates that are applied to certain items.

"It might surprise people that there is a 23pc VAT on vaccines - a preventive health measure - and there is no VAT on oral antibiotics.

"Furthermore, some incontinence wear attracts VAT. This seems unfair - I'm sure if people had the choice they would choose not to require such products," she added.

Ms O'Connell is one of Fine Gael's most outspoken TDs, and is also a member of the Oireachtas abortion committee.

Meanwhile, one of Ms O'Connell's party colleagues, Senator Catherine Noone, last night said the Government needs to examine the "discrepancy" between the VAT applied to the use of sunbeds and sunscreen products.

The VAT rate on the use of sunbed sessions is 13.5pc - compared to 23pc on sunscreen.

"Under the VAT Consolidation Act 2010, sunbed sessions are currently allocated a reduced VAT rate, as it is deemed a service consisting of 'care of the human body'," said Ms Noone.

"It is ranked alongside beauty treatments, yoga and nail salons - while paradoxically, the standard 23pc VAT rate is applied to sunscreen.

"The concept of sunbed sessions coming under the category of 'care of the human body' is beyond compre- hension.

"There is strong scientific evidence of the link between skin cancer and sunbed use.

"In 2009, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified sunbeds as 'carcinogenic' to humans, in the same category as plutonium and tobacco."

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