There was bad news in yesterday’s budget for the estimated 5% of Irish smokers who actually buy their cigarettes in a shop. For the sixth budget in a row 50 cent was added to the price of a packet of twenty cigarettes bringing the cost of most brands up to a staggering €12.
With the latest price increase, how can anyone earning an average wage in Ireland still afford to smoke? We ventured into the bars of Dublin to gauge the reaction of smokers to yesterday’s announcement. First we spoke to 36-year-old Colin McGuire from Finglas and asked him how he felt about the price hike. “Couldn’t give a shite.” he told us proudly. “Me mate Marius always has hundreds. It’s only €5 for 20 L&M Blue. Sure you can’t go wrong at them prices.”
63-year-old Mick Delaney had a similar reaction when we told him how much twenty cigarettes will now cost him in a shop. “Cost me? Haha. They can make them €50 for all I care. I can’t remember the last time I bought smokes in a shop. My son gets mine for me off some lad with a funny name he works with.”
What about Irish retailers? Are they feeling the pinch? Jim McLoughlin has been running his family newsagents Mags‘n’Fags in Cabra for over 30 years. Does he think the price increase will affect his business? “No I don’t think the price increase will affect my business. I haven’t sold a packet of fags in ten years. The ones I have are gone stale. Feckin’ foreigners.”
Almost everyone we spoke to told us they buy half-price cigarettes that are brought into the country from Eastern Europe. 45-year-old Mark Duggan from Tallaght said anyone who pays Irish prices for cigarettes is mental in the head. We put it to Mark that what he and others are doing is costing the Irish exchequer millions in revenue every year. “Me hole!” he replied. “With the €7 I saved on this packet of fags I went down and got meself a feed in Angelo’s. I’m keeping the local chippers in business and the staff there in jobs so stick that in your €12 fags and smoke it.”