Under the law, retailers already pay to register with the National Tobacco Control Office to sell tobacco over the counter or through self-service machines. While few EU countries operate a licensing system, plans have previously been discussed in Ireland, in a bid to limit tobacco sales to a reduced number of licensed retailers or pharmacies.
In a radio interview, Peter Steemers, owner of Steemers-O’Leary’s News in Wexford, explained retailers shouldn’t have to hold all the responsibility. “There’s a tobacco selling licence on the horizon, but why do retailers have to bear the brunt for our customers?” he said.
“They should make the smoker have a licence to smoke. Why should we sponsor their smoking?”
In a report published this year by the Health Service Executive, it reported 63% of respondents to a public survey favoured tobacco sales being banned from local shops, newsagents, off-licences and petrol stations.
However, Steemers said any future plans to introduce a licence would put even more pressure on retailers, especially those running small stores and who are already facing unmanageable cost rises. “Electricity prices have gone through the roof,” he said. “I spent thousands on upgrading my lighting to energy-saving LED, only to find myself back at the same cost, if not more.”
“Our overheads have to be justified by our retail prices. We can’t be seen as profiteering, but at the same time, we have to make a living.”