Cabinet signs off on plan for plain tobacco packaging

Minister for Health to present the Bill to the Seanad prompting expectation of an early legal challenge by tobacco industry

The Cabinet has signed off on draft laws to compel tobacco companies to use plain packaging on products they sell in Ireland.

The Cabinet has signed off on draft laws to compel tobacco companies to use plain packaging on products they sell in Ireland.

Tue, Jun 10, 2014, 14:54

The Cabinet has signed off on draft laws to compel tobacco companies to use plain packaging on products they sell in Ireland.

Minister for Health James Reilly is now set to present the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill 2014 to the Seanad, prompting expectation of an early legal challenge to the measure by the tobacco industry .

In a statement this afternoon, Dr Reilly described the Government’s approval of the Bill as a “significant step forward” for tobacco control in Ireland. If the law is enacted, Ireland would be the first EU member state to take such steps and only the third country in the world.

Ongoing moves to introduce plain packaging have already triggered a big lobbying campaign by the global tobacco industry, which has concerns that the Irish law could set a precdent for other European countries.

The initiative comes as Dr Rilly seeks to regain momentum in his ministry after damaging missteps in the medical card review. Ahead of a looming Cabinet reshuffle by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, he is perceived to be the most vulnerable Minister on the Fine Gael wing of the Cabinet.

“Ireland will be the first country in the European Union to introduce such legislation and the third country worldwide. Australia introduced plain packaging legislation in November 2011 and the New Zealand Bill had its first reading in parliament on 11th February this year,” Dr Reilly said.

“I understand that other EU countries are also considering such legislation.”

If enacted the Bill will remove all forms of branding including trademarks, logo, colours and graphics from packs, except for the brand and variant name which will be presented in a uniform typeface.”

The objective is to make tobacco packs look less attractive to consumers, to make health warnings more prominent and to reduce the recruitment of new smokers.

“One of my key goals as Minister for Health is to prevent our children and young people from starting to smoke,” said Dr Reilly.

“Approximately 5,200 Irish people die each year from diseases caused by smoking. These are all preventable, avoidable deaths.

“Given all we know about the dangers of smoking, it is not acceptable to allow the tobacco industry to use deceptive marketing gimmicks to lure our children into this deadly addiction and to deceive current smokers about the impact of their addiction.”