'A tax on safe sex' - Irish pharmacists call for condoms to be sold VAT-free

'A tax on safe sex' - Irish pharmacists call for condoms to be sold VAT-free

IRISH pharmacists want condoms to be VAT-free to allow contraception to be more affordable and easier for the public to access.

The Irish Pharmacy Union, which represents 2,200 pharmacists, wants the Irish Government to eliminate VAT on condoms as part of a pre-Budget Submission.

The VAT on condoms has been at the rate of 13.5% rather than the normal rate of 23% since 2008.

A pack of 12 condoms retails at around €13 at the moment and the union claims reducing the cost would increase availability to teenagers.

Pharmacist Caitríona O’Ríordan, a member of the IPU Executive Committee said: “The Government has a stated objective to improve access to contraception and to reduce the rate of unplanned pregnancy, this also aligns with the strategy to improve sexual health in Ireland.

"There is currently a VAT rate of 13.5% on condoms, which is counterproductive and goes against these ambitions. This is essentially a tax on safe sex, and we are calling on the Minister for Finance to abolish this tax in the upcoming Budget.

“Condoms are the best protection against sexually transmitted infections and can reduce the risk of unplanned pregnancies. Reducing the cost of condoms and improving ease of access will increase their use, particularly among younger adults where cost has the biggest impact.”

The IPU also called for oral contraception to be made available to women through their pharmacy without a prescription of charge.

The government announced earlier this year that it was increasing the availability of free contraceptives but as of yet has showed no indication of reducing the VAT rate.

The 2019 Budget will be announced on October 9.