VAT-free condoms will be fleetingly available to Irish consumers as one pharmacy has committed to paying the price to promote a culture of safe sex.
CarePlus Pharmacy has announced that it will pay the VAT on condoms at each of its 60 outlets across Ireland on its customers' behalf, in an aim to encourage safe sex as students head back to college.
Figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre show a significant increase in the number of sexually transmitted infections amongst young people aged 15-24.
The HPSC found that nearly half of all chlamydia, one-third of gonorrhoea and 39% of herpes cases were diagnosed amongst young people in 2018.
CarePlus Pharmacy argues that condoms should be viewed as an essential everyday item, and not subject to the current rate of VAT at 13.5%. There remains concern that cost may be a factor in people making choices around their sexual health.
The VAT-free promo will continue until at least 8 October, when details of next year’s budget are announced.
“We do not believe that something that helps prevent the spread of infection should be subject to VAT, and that price should not be a barrier to protection," Niamh Lynch, Commercial Director of CarePlus Pharmacy says.
"There have been reports that Minister Simon Harris is in favour of a 0% rate on condoms, and we hope that is something the Government will give real consideration to in next year’s budget. Until then, we have committed to reducing the cost of condoms across our pharmacy network to show how much of an impact such a measure can have.”
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CarePlus Pharmacy has also announced that it is to donate 5,000 branded condoms to student bodies around Ireland for distribution on college campuses.
The company has been campaigning on this issue throughout 2019, having previously distributed 10,000 condoms through its 60-strong nationwide network for Valentine’s Day.
Earlier this year, the government announced that it wanted to increase the availability of free contraception such as condoms in a bid to reduce crisis pregnancies.
The minister said he also plans to reduce the cost of the morning-after pill or perhaps make it free for all women.
Last month, Harris announced that condoms would be distributed across third-level colleges in the final months of the year.