Does health not count at the European Court of Justice?

The judges ruled that Ireland, France and Austria were in breech of fair competition by imposing a floor on cigarette prices. Price is a huge factor in the volume of cigarettes sold. Smoking kills 7,000 people here every year and costs the country €1 billion in the treatment costs of tobacco related illnesses.

Currently packs of smokes cost €3.50 on the black market and smuggling costs the country €500 million per year in lost taxes. The Department of Health set minimum prices for cigarettes in 1978 to try to reduce consumption.  About 25% of smokers die prematurely from the habit and on average lose 10 to 15 years of life. Smoking causes about 90% of lung cancers and 75% of the deaths from Emphysema/bronchitis. About 25% of deaths from coronary heart disease are caused by smoking.

The European tobacco industry and tobacco farmers are a strong lobby and have always tried to block serious attempts by governments to interfere with tobacco consumption.

I call on the government to ensure that the council of ministers agree an EU wide tax on cigarettes. Make smoking expensive everywhere!

Retail prices of cigarettes in Europe – Norway €8.78 Ireland €8.40 UK €6.94 France €5.60 Germany €4.95 Belgium and Holland €4.84 Sweden €4.57 Finland and Italy  €4.40 Switzerland €4.37 Luxembourg and Austria  €4.00 Cyprus €3.85 Greece €3.20 Spain and Portugal €3.45 Czech €3.23 Slovakia €3.16 Hungary €2.82 Slovenia €2.80 Madeira €2.65 Estonia €2.55 Latvia €2.49 Poland 2.43 North Cyprus and Canaries  €2.20 Bulgaria €2.16 Lithuania €2.06 Albania €1.49 Serbia €1.17 Russia €0.95 Romania €0.89 Ukraine €0.79.