Eight European Union countries have lodged concerns about Ireland's plain tobacco packaging proposals, with the deadline for objections ending today.
Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Spain have all now filed objections about the proposals, which were put forward by James Reilly when he was minister for health.
It is possible further objections may be filed today. Greece only submitted its concerns yesterday.
Ireland hopes to be the first EU member to introduce plain packaging legislation. The law would ban the use of logos on tobacco packaging. Graphic warnings would be mandatory on all packaging and the use of terms such as "low tar" would be banned.
The international tobacco industry fears that the new Irish law would set a precedent for
. Tobacco giants are believed to be considering suing Ireland if plain packaging proposals are implemented.
Earlier this year Exane BNP Paribas, a research firm backed by France’s biggest bank BNP Paribas, said it believed the tobacco industry had a “robust case against plain packaging which would allow it to claim compensation” in the billions if the law is implemented across Europe.
It said paying billions to tobacco companies was “not a likely vote-winner” and this could deter other countries from following Ireland’s lead.
Countries file so-called detailed opinions when they believe regulations in one country “may create obstacles to the free movement of goods, the freedom to provide services or the freedom of establishment of services operators within the internal market”.
Department of Health
said in a statement that it could confirm “the Department has received correspondence from eight countries on the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill 2014. The Department is currently considering these opinions and will respond to the Commission in due course.”
It declined to comment on the content of any submission.
When a state lodges proposals with the European Commission, the country implementing a new law has to obey a three-month "stand still" period, when it cannot adopt draft laws without the all clear from Europe.
Once detailed opinions are lodged, a further three months is added to this period to allow their review by the European Commission.