President Michael D Higgins signed legislation enforcing plain packaging for cigarettes yesterday (TUE), making Ireland just the second country to do so.
The enactment of the law is expected to prompt cigarette companies to initiate court challenges against the Government to block commencement of the legislation.
The Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill 2014 has proved controversial with producers.
It passed the Seanad earlier this month following some final amendments to the title of the Bill.
Once in practice, the law means all cigarette packaging will be devoid of branding and will be permitted only to display the name on top, while a health warning will cover the entire packet.
It is hoped the new rules will act as a disincentive to children from taking up smoking. Only Australia has enacted similar legislation.
The Minister for Children James Reilly has said the Government anticipates legal action to be initiated by tobacco producers once the legislation was signed into law.
“The Attorney General has her team together and we fully expect, once the legislation is enacted and commenced, that they will probably file a lawsuit,” he said last week.
“They will do it more in the hope than certainty. They do it more to intimidate us and to intimidate other countries who are prepared to follow suit.”