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Last Updated: Friday, 1 February 2008, 10:27 GMT
Irish Republic lowers condom tax
Condoms in the Irish Republic are among the most expensive in Europe
The price of a packet of condoms in the Irish Republic is set to fall after the government decided to cut the VAT rate on non-oral contraceptives.

Finance Minister Brian Cowen announced the move after pressure from safe sex and crisis pregnancy campaigners.

This reduction should see the price of a 12 pack reduced from 13.20 euro to 12.40 euro and a pack of three condoms down from 4.20 euro to 3.94 euro.

The move has been welcomed by the Crisis Pregnancy Agency.

The agency is the state body responsible for reducing crisis pregnancy in Ireland.

Agency director Caroline Spillane said condoms in Ireland were among the most expensive in Europe and were not free under the medical card scheme.

"In December, the agency submitted a policy paper to the Department of Finance which presented a strong health-related argument for the reduction of VAT on condoms," she said.

"The Irish Study of Sexual Health and Relationships (2006), a nationally representative study, found that one in five people aged between 18-24 say that the cost of condoms would discourage their use of them."

The Irish Pharmaceutical Union (IPU) also supported the measure saying the VAT reduction from 21% to 13.5% would make condoms more affordable.

"We would now call on the government to reduce the VAT rate on all medicines that are taxed at the rate of 21%. These are not luxuries," said union president Darragh O'Loughlin.

However, Audrey Simpson of the Family Planning Association (IFPA) said that while the move was a step in the right direction more should be done.

"It would be better if condoms were sold VAT free. They are not luxury items, they are essential in reducing rates of sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies," she said.

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