Three local health store owners have signed a petition along with 800 concerned shoppers in an effort to stop VAT being piled onto the price of food supplements and herbal teas.
According to the Irish Association of Health Stores the VAT hike would go onto most food supplements except vitamins, minerals or fish oils.
Owner of Rainbow Health Store in Wexford town John Linden believes a tax on simple products such as peppermint and camomile teas, and on food supplements such as garlic capsules or echinacea, is a tax on people who are actively looking after their health.
‘This is the government protecting the sickness industry because there is so much money made out of illness, and from old people, so the authorities want to keep their ‘big brother’ control over our health and they simply do not want to make it easy for us to look after ourselves nutritionally,’ he said.
Gerard Colfer who has been running the ‘Only Natural Health Food Stores’ for over 30 years in Wexford town agreed that this stealth tax would be a totally counter productive move.
‘The government is trawling any avenue for revenue and their eyes have landed on health products but this move will put health supplements out of the reach of the people who need it most; older people and children,’ he said.
Patrick Meehan owner of ‘The Natural Health Store’ said a tax on herbal teas blended with fruit was quietly brought in last year but now the government wants to hike up the price of all herbal teas and some food supplements.
‘Adding 23% on every euro is costly for consumers, and in effect adds an average of 50 cents to a tea that costs around €2, and teas and food supplements make up a large part of my business, so the up shot of all this is that people will either stop taking their health products, or start buying them on-line, which is very dangerous because they do not know the quality of what they are buying,’ he said.
In Enniscorthy, Matt Ronan of ‘Evolv Health Store’ said it was a ludicrous move by the government.
‘The revenue are doing what the revenue do, and it is well known that if you want to make something unpopular, you put a tax on it, so really if this tax is goes ahead it highlights the total insincerity of the government’s so called ‘ preventative health policy” he said.
‘Surely any new tax should be applied to products that are bad for our health not those that promote good health,’ he said.