Cabinet to consider plain tobacco packaging

Tobacco industry already lobbying against move to introduce plain packaging

A number of anti-smoking organisations, including the Irish Cancer Society, have lobbied for such restrictions to be introduced.  Photograph: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News

A number of anti-smoking organisations, including the Irish Cancer Society, have lobbied for such restrictions to be introduced. Photograph: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News

 

Controversial legislation that proposes cigarettes be sold only in plain packaging was due to come before the Government for consideration this morning.

Minister for Health James Reilly will bring a Scheme of a Health Amendment Bill to today’s meeting of the Cabinet that will provide for the banning of lettering, logos, trademarks and designs associated with cigarette brands on boxes and cartons.

Dr Reilly received Government permission in May 2013 to draft the legislation which will require that all cigarette and tobacco products be sold in plain packaging.

It is expected that the draft scheme, if approved, will be referred to the Oireachtas Health Committee for consideration.

The tobacco industry has already began to lobby against the move. Only one country in the world, Australia, has so far introduced legislation providing for plain packaging. Tobacco companies have said they will mount legal challenges to the laws there under various trade, competition and intellectual property laws.

Dr Reilly has been a strong proponent of plain packaging in both opposition and government and said he wants to introduce the restrictions to discourage young people from smoking. He has contended that the strong colours and designs of tobacco packaging have played a part in enticing teenagers to take up smoking.

A number of anti-smoking organisations, including the Irish Cancer Society, have lobbied for such restrictions to be introduced.

Ireland has one of the highest per capita rate of adult smokers in Europe with some 29 per cent of adults smoking.

It has been claimed that successive price rises in Budgets has not led to significant decreases in the number of smokers, rather an increase in the volume of contraband cigarette and tobacco being sold on the black market. A study conducted by KPMG in the past year estimated that some 1 billion cigarettes are being smuggled into Ireland each year, at a cost of over €500 million to the Exchequer.