Tuesday, June 24 14:13:56
Retailers today slammed proposals from the Minister for Health James Reilly to introduce a new licensing system with annual fees payable directly to his Department.
Representative bodies, CSNA, RGDATA, Retail Excellence Ireland and ISME have joined in their condemnation of the plan, saying it amounts to a new tax.
There are 13,500 tobacco retailers currently registered in Ireland. 7,500 of these are hotels, clubs and pubs that could not be considered to sell tobacco as a core product within their businesses, and would be unlikely to continue to register if the cost of the annual fee exceeded the profit earned from sales, they say.
The Department of Health has suggested that all existing retailers would be required to pay a fee that would net E5m per annum.
The purpose of licensing/registration is to ensure that if there are transgressions of tobacco control laws, the Courts can apply a removal from the register if the Judge deems the facts of the case to merit such sanction. As retailers are already registered, there is no pressing legislative need for this measure.
"This is a tax upon retailers, a punishment from the Minister for selling a product that is sold in response to a demand, it is not promoted or marketed in our stores yet is vital for our continued survival," said a spokesman for the group.
"Retailers should be provided with a clear message from the Taoiseach that Minister Reilly's proposals are contrary to everything that this Government is trying to do for retail and small business in Ireland."
Despite repeated requests since last October from the retailer groups to meet with the Minister to discuss the proposals, Mr. Reilly has consistently refused to engage in any way with the representatives of the 6,000 stores affected by the proposals to extract this "punishment tax" from their members.