Cigarette industry is ‘evil’, says John Crown

Seanad debates Bill on tobacco pricing

Under a European Court of Justice ruling Ireland had to discontinue setting a mandatory level below which cigarette prices could not be lowered, as it would restrict the freedom of the industry to make effective use of competitive advantage. Photograph: Alan Betson

Under a European Court of Justice ruling Ireland had to discontinue setting a mandatory level below which cigarette prices could not be lowered, as it would restrict the freedom of the industry to make effective use of competitive advantage. Photograph: Alan Betson

 


The cigarette industry is “evil’’, Independent Senator John Crown said.

Prof Crown, an oncologist, said it should be seen as an industry that needed to be stamped out completely. “We should put it on notice that it is our intention to make the activity which it does completely and comprehensively illegal within a meaningful time-frame,’’ he added. He said he believed Minister for Health Dr James Reilly was a committed campaigner toward the goal of making Ireland a tobacco-free society. “Like those of us who have been privileged to be members of our profession and other caring health professionals, we do tend to get a different perspective on the reality of the evil that is this industry, ’’ he added.


‘Evil industry’
“It is an evil industry and we need to call it what it is. At no level, within our body politic, be it local government, national government, legislature, Civil Service or the EU, should we in any sense be engaging with the tobacco industry.’’

Prof Crown was speaking during a debate on the Public Health (Tobacco) (Amendment) Bill 2013, which was introduced by Dr Reilly. The Minister said that under a European Court of Justice ruling Ireland had to discontinue setting a mandatory level below which cigarette prices could not be lowered, as it would restrict the freedom of the industry to make effective use of competitive advantage.

The European Commission, he added, had indicated that infringement proceedings would be initiated unless Ireland took steps to comply with the court’s judgment.

Prof Crown said he could not believe that anybody at a European level would come out with such a ruling and he called for a “symbolic rejection’’ of the Bill.