‘Obvious conflict’ between duty free, health priorities

‘AN OBVIOUS conflict’ exists between the States’ health aims and the fact that its own airline is selling cheap cigarettes and alcohol, Health & Social Care president Heidi Soulsby has said.

(Picture by Peter Frankland, 22957911)
(Picture by Peter Frankland, 22957911)

But States’ Trading Supervisory Board president Peter Ferbrache said that if moves were made to restrict or stop duty free sales, they would have apply to all carriers, be they sea or air.

Th Budget again increased the amount of duty on cigarettes and alcohol in line with previous States resolutions.

Deputy Soulsby said that while the stated aims of her committee were focused on decreasing the number of smokers in the Bailiwick, it was obvious that this conflicted with the sale of cheap tobacco on board flights operated by the States-owned airline.

‘That is why we are promoting a “Health in All Policies” approach,’ she said. ‘The committee looks forward to opening discussions on this matter with other States of Guernsey committees and entities.’

This move follows both the unanimous support for HSC’s Partnership of Purpose plans, which aim to transform health and care services, and the successful amendment to the Policy and Resources Plan which outlined the need to ‘Focus on the promotion of health and wellbeing, and the prevention of, early intervention in, and protection from negative health outcomes.’

Deputy Soulsby said the priority for Public Health was for people not to smoke, regardless of whether or not they paid duty on their cigarettes.

‘We would not like to promote the concept that it is acceptable to smoke as long as you have paid duty and therefore contributed to the cost of your healthcare,’ she said.

As for alcohol, she said HSC was consulted by Policy & Resources in June in relation to alcohol duty. ‘Alcohol abuse is also an area of increasing public health concern, which is thought to cost the Bailiwick over £21m. per annum’ she said.

‘On the back of that discussion, I wrote to [Policy & Resources president] Deputy [Gavin] St Pier stating that HSC remains concerned that Channel Islanders have a significant opportunity to access cheap alcohol and cigarettes whenever they travel away from the islands, not only on board ferries and aircraft, but also in the duty free shops at the ports.

‘We also expressed our concern that single travellers are encouraged by operators to take advantage of the many discounted multi-buy offers, thus encouraging passengers to exceed the limit allowed, as well as potentially having an increasingly negative impact on their health.’

She said that while HSC understands that commercial travel is subsidised by the sale of duty free goods, ‘[we] believe consideration must be given to the direct and indirect costs to the States of Guernsey of these sales.

‘The loss of excise duty from duty free sales, together with the costs of treating alcohol and tobacco-related illnesses must inevitably place further financial pressure on the States of Guernsey as a whole.’

States’ Trading Supervisory Board president Peter Ferbrache said: ‘Most airlines sell duty free tobacco products, and the revenues from those help to reduce fares for all passengers.

‘If there was a policy to restrict such sales, that should apply to all other operators who serve the Channel Islands, by sea or air, so as not to put Aurigny at a competitive disadvantage to other carriers.’

. Work has started to extend the duty free shop at the airport and passengers will have to walk through it to reach the departure lounge.

. The latest edition of Aurigny’s in-flight magazine states that a 400 pack of cigarettes is the equivalent of £2.70 per pack of 20. Two litres of spirits can be bought for £24 or £18, depending on the brand.

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