As the Deputy will be aware, Ireland's public health policy objective in relation to tobacco control is to promote and subsequently move toward a tobacco free society. Tobacco Free Ireland, the report of the Tobacco Policy Review Group, sets a target for Ireland to be tobacco free by 2025. In practice, this will mean a smoking prevalence rate of less than 5%. The two key themes underpinning the report are protecting children and the denormalisation of smoking. Tobacco Free Ireland addresses a range of tobacco control issues and initiatives and contains over 60 recommendations, including the future regulation of the tobacco retail environment.
Under current Irish tobacco control legislation, a retailer wishing to sell tobacco products, whether over the counter or from a self-service vending machine, must register with the HSE National Tobacco Control Office and be placed on the Retail Register for the sale of tobacco products. Under the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2002, as amended, the HSE may charge a fee as may be determined by the Minister for Health. To date, this has been a once off fee of €50 per applicant. As part of a budgetary measure in October 2013, I announced my intention to increase the Retail Register fee during 2014, in the context of legislation to provide for the licensing of the sale of tobacco products as outlined in Tobacco Free Ireland. Any proposed legislation in this regard will be subject to a Regulatory Impact Analysis.