Fianna Fáil Senator tells opponents of plain packaging to ‘butt out’

Paschal Mooney criticises Ibec and US Chamber of Commerce over tobacco firm threat

 

Senators criticised Ibec and the US Chamber of Commerce for joining a major cigarette company in opposing the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes.

Fianna Fáil’s Paschal Mooney said, in American parlance, they should be told, “butt out, guys’’.

JTI Ireland, owner of the Benson & Hedges and Silk Cut brands, has told Minister for Children Dr James Reilly and Minister for Health Dr Leo Varadkar it will take legal action if they fail to promise by tomorrow that no further steps will be taken to enact the draft law.

Dr Reilly introduced the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill last year when he was minister for health, and retained responsibility for the legislation when he moved from the health portfolio and was replaced by Dr Varadkar.

Mr Mooney told the Seanad a major tobacco company had launched “an assault on the integrity and sovereignty’’ of the country.

“The company had now been joined, believe it or not, by Ibec and the US Chamber of Commerce in threatening the Government of this country on legislation that passed through this House which mandates plain packaging for cigarettes.’’

Mr Mooney said it was the Irish parliament’s right to pass legislation it believed was in the best interests of the nation’s health.

Tax revenue

Catherine Noone (Fine Gael), said there was no more appropriate day than Ash Wednesday on which to speak on the issue.

“It beggars belief and is deplorable that Ibec and the American Chamber of Commerce would support a global cigarette company in this way.’’

Mr Mooney said it was disgraceful.

“Yes, it is unsavoury and inappropriate, to say the least,’’ said Ms Noone.

Colm Burke (Fine Gael) said his message to Ibec was clear. “We are spending €260 million a week in healthcare in this country.’’