Retailers oppose standardised packs
Over 9,000 postcards from Irish retailers against plans to make significant changes to the Irish cigarette market have been delivered to the Department of Health today.
The retailers are protesting against plans to standardise cigarette packages, which would remove branding, as well as only permitting roll-your-own tobacco to be sold in large bags.
The postcards were delivered by three retail representative groups, Retailers Against Smuggling, Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association and the National Federation of Retail Newsagents. It took seven days to gather all signatures.
The tobacco changes would see any increase in black market trading of illegal cigarettes, according to RAS spokesman Benny Gilsenan.
“We feel that it is ludicrous that at a time when the illegal cigarette market is flourishing that the Government is considering measures that will clearly harm legitimate businesses and put Irish jobs at risk,” he said.
“If these measures are made law, almost half of the products we well will disappear from our shelves and the knock-on effect will be huge job losses in the retail sector. The measures will also mean that a whole section of otherwise law-abiding consumers would have no choice but to buy products on the black market.”
Mr Gilsenan added that Revenue made 8,105 seizures of illegal cigarettes in 2012, which is down 23 per cent on 2011.
“We welcome the opportunity to discuss these plans with [Minister for Health James Reilly] and his department, because from a trader’s perspective, they appear to be entirely counter-productive and damaging,” he said.
The groups understand Government efforts to improve the nation’s health and to turn people off tobacco, but the efforts are misguided, said chief executive of CSNA Vincent Jennings.
“As retailers, we are very aware of our responsibilities. We don’t want our children to make dangerous decisions, but the Government plans would just hand more custom to the black market,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said they welcome input in relation to the plans. "The Department of Health is running a Public Consultation on a proposal for an EU Directive on the Tobacco Products Directive and wishes to have as many views as possible from the public and stakeholders with an interest in the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco and related products," she said.