Ireland has become the second country in the world to pass legislation which will enforce plain packaging for tobacco products. Signed into law by President Higgins, the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Act identifies smoking as the greatest single cause of preventable illness and premature death in Ireland. In order to reduce the prevalence of smoking and related health complications, the Government has pledged its commitment to introduce standardised packaging in an effort to remove “one of the last remaining frontiers for tobacco advertising.”
The legislation aims to reduce the potential for packaging to mislead consumers about harmful effects, whilst enhancing the visibility of health warnings.
Speaking in the Dáil, Minister for Children James Reilly declared: “We have ranked at the forefront in introducing measures to protect our country’s health from the scourge of smoking … Our aim should be nothing less than a tobacco-free Ireland.”
John Player & Sons Ltd and Japan Tobacco International (JTI) Ireland had previously lodged objections to the legislation plans and are now expected to follow through with threatened legal action.
The tobacco industry has produced four main strands of objection i.e. plain packaging has the potential to boost the illicit tobacco trade, produce a subsequent loss of excise revenue, place extra pressure upon small retailers, and act as an infringement on intellectual property rights. JTI General Manager
Igor Dzaja remarked: “We have informed the Government that we stand ready to file legal proceedings should it continue pushing for a ‘cut and paste’ policy that has failed in Australia … plain packaging puts politics before evidence.”