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Health Committee publishes report on tobacco plain packaging Bill

Information messages which set out the ingredients and emissions of tobacco products, similar to those used in Australia, should be required on at least one side of tobacco packaging, according to a new report by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children.

3 April 2014

Brand and variant names appearing on individual cigarette sticks should also be prohibited in any new legislation on tobacco plain packaging, it says.

The recommendations are among 26 in a report on the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill 2013 which was presented to the Minister for Health James Reilly TD and published on the Oireachtas.ie website today, Thursday, 3rd April 2014.

According to the report, the proposed legislation should include provisions to provide for:

  • the standardisation of the size of tobacco packaging;
  • the inner packaging of tobacco products to be the same colour as the outside surface;
  • a separate and distinct definition for brand, company and business name so as to prevent tobacco manufacturers from promoting brand variants to the status of brands; and
  • the maximum length/number of characters in brand and variant names;

Consideration should also be given to the introduction of a ‘polluter pays’ type levy on tobacco manufacturers to be used to offset the health care costs associated with tobacco use, the report recommends.

It also includes that the recommendations and measures set out in Tobacco Free Ireland should be implemented as soon as possible, in particular the following recommendations:

  • Banning smoking in cars where children are present;
  • Prohibiting the sale of tobacco products  from mobile units/containers (at fairs and markets); and
  • Making nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) more widely available, including in retail outlets where tobacco products are sold;

Committee Chairman, Jerry Buttimer TD said: “The control and regulation of tobacco products and tobacco use is a key public health policy objective in Ireland. Following the implementation of many successful legislative and policy initiatives, Ireland is regarded internationally as one of the leaders in this area. The Tobacco Control Scale 2010 in Europe ranks Ireland second out of 31 European countries in terms of tobacco control. Over the past number of months the Committee has conducted a series of pre-legislative hearings on the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill 2013 which proposes to introduce standardised packaging for all tobacco products and also determine the size and position of health warnings on cigarette packets. Today, the Committee published its report which contains a number of recommendations and observations on the Heads of the Bill.”

Among the report’s other recommendations are:

  • Consideration should be given to expanding the enforcement powers of authorised officers under the proposed legislation to include the seizure, removal and detention of non-conforming products;
  • Consideration should also be given to providing that the offender pay the costs associated with the seizure, removal and detention of non-conforming products including the cost of their destruction;
  • That the proposed legislation includes an offence for the possession by retailers of non-conforming tobacco products;
  • That the primary sanction upon conviction would be the suspension, and in the case of repeat offences, the loss of the privilege to sell tobacco products;
  • The proposed legislation should provide a wider range of penalties available to include official warnings/cautions and on-the-spot fines;
  • That consideration should be given to the introduction of mandatory opening/trading hours for tobacco products (i.e. not during or after a certain time, for example, between 7am and 9am and not after 6pm);
  • That consideration should be given to prohibiting the sale of cigarettes in licenced premises (for example pubs and clubs);
  • That consideration should be given to regulating the sale of e-cigarettes;
  • That consideration should be given to setting up a Freephone complaints line/email address to encourage compliance (through answering enquiries) and the reporting of breaches of the legislation.

Read the report here.

Media Enquiries to:

Ciaran Brennan,
Houses of the Oireachtas,
Communications Unit,
Leinster House,
Dublin 2

Committee Membership:

Deputies: Jerry Buttimer (Chair), Catherine Byrne, Ciara Conway (Vice-Chair), Regina Doherty, Robert Dowds, Peter M Fitzpatrick, Seamus Healy, Billy Kelleher, Eamonn Maloney, Mattie McGrath, Sandra McLellan, Dan Neville, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin and Robert Troy

Senators: Colm Burke, John Crown, John Gilroy, Imelda Henry, Marc Mac Sharry and Jillian Van Turnhout