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Ireland: ‘Butt Out’ campaign aims to stop cigarette vending machine ban

Tue 17th September, 2019

Campaigners have urged Minister for Health Simon Harris to drop plans for a ban on the sale of tobacco products from self-service vending machines.

Launching the ‘Butt Out’ campaign, the smokers’ group Forest Ireland says the proposed policy is a further “nanny measure” designed to reduce adult freedoms that will do nothing to protect children from taking up smoking nor will it reduce the number of adults who smoke.

At present, says Forest, users of self-serve vending machines have to request a token from the bar, which makes it extremely difficult for anyone under the age of 18 to use them to purchase tobacco. The group claims it is further tokenism by a government obsessed with being seen to combat smoking regardless of the outcome.

The measure, says Forest, will also encourage smokers who have been punished by a series of “punitive” anti-smoking measures to purchase cigarettes from illegal sources which currently stand at 13 per cent of national tobacco consumption and costs the state over €220 million annually.

John Mallon, spokesman for Forest Ireland, said:

“Banning cigarette vending machines will further inconvenience consumers who are already paying punitive levels of tax when they purchase cigarettes legally.

“There is no evidence that cigarette vending machines pose a significant risk to children. The overwhelming majority of machines are well policed by publicans and hoteliers and restrictions are already in place that make it very difficult for children to use them.

“Buying cigarettes from a self-serve vending machine is expensive but they are convenient and they provide pubs with a small but additional source of revenue. Banning them may result in a further loss of jobs.

“We are asking the government politely to butt out and let adults be adults. The reality is that a ban on cigarette vending machines will inevitably encourage consumers to buy cigarettes illegally, not just for price but also for convenience.”

“The health risks of smoking are very well known yet many people choose to smoke because they enjoy it, not because they are addicted. Government must respect that choice and stop bullying smokers to stop. The only people who will gain from a ban on cigarette vending machines are those who are selling illegal cigarettes.”

To discuss the proposal to ban cigarette vending machines, John Mallon will be touring Ireland for two weeks from Tuesday 17th September 2019.

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