Public Health (Tobacco) Bill, 2001: Report and Final Stages.

Amendments Nos. 1, 4, 6, 9, 10, 13 to 31, inclusive, 33 to 96, inclusive, 98 to 157, inclusive, 161 to 172, inclusive, 174 to 181, inclusive, 183 to 191, inclusive, and 204 to 211, inclusive, are consequential on amendment No. 11. Amendment No. 12 is an alternative to amendment No. 11, so amendments Nos. 1, 4, 6, 9 to 31, inclusive, 33 to 96, inclusive, 98 to 157, inclusive, 161 to 172, inclusive, 174 to 181, inclusive, 183 to 191, inclusive, and 204 to 211, inclusive, will be taken together by agreement.

Could that list be circulated?

It is being circulated.

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): I move amendment No. 1:

In page 5, lines 6 and 7, to delete "TOBACCO CONTROL AGENCY" and substitute "OFFICE OF TOBACCO CONTROL".

We agreed on Committee Stage that we would change the title. All the other amendments are related to that change.

Are the other amendments being taken with this now?

For discussion purposes, but, for decision purposes, they will be taken when we come to them.

I still do not have the list.

The amendment relates to the change of title.

Yes. It affects the issue of the joint amendments in our names. I am glad the Minister has accepted this amendment proposed by the Opposition and that he has reverted to using the term Office of Tobacco Control rather than Tobacco Control Agency. The term "agency" gives the impression of someone who acts for another person whereas the term "office" gives the impression of a more independent body for example, the Office of Attorney General or the Office of Director of Traffic in Dublin Corporation. It implies the person has powers and it illustrates the real role of the office.

We raised most of our concerns on Committee Stage so I will not delay on these issues throughout the debate. However, RGDATA still has concerns. The members of RGDATA feel that the fact that the Office of Tobacco Control can remove a retailer's registration for the sale of tobacco products for up to three months could have the effect of closing down some of them completely. They feel that penalty is too onerous and that punishment should only be imposed by a court and not by an administrative body or office. What does the Minister intend in that regard?

The RGDATA members also say that the Bill would oblige retailers to put cigarettes in closed containers below the shop counter where neither the products nor the container will be visible to the public. I raised this issue on Committee Stage when there was a suggestion that it could be done in such a way that they would be accessible but not visible. Has the Minister addressed that issue? Also, will the Minister allow retailers a valid defence in a prosecution for the sale of cigarettes to a minor? That is catered for in a later amendment. On this amendment, I am glad to join with the Minister in re-naming this office the Office of Tobacco Control instead of the Tobacco Control Agency. That strengthens the role of the office and indicates that we mean business and that this office will have power and be able to act. Accordingly, I support the approach taken by the Minister and I thank him for taking the suggestion made on Committee Stage on board.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 6, between lines 18 and 19, to insert the following:

"(b) any form of patronage by a manufacturer or importer of a tobacco product such as the association of the name of such manufacturer or importer with any public building, part of such building, educational fund, third-level chair or any other means whatsoever,”.

I made a point on Committee Stage in relation to this amendment. There is an issue surrounding patronage by tobacco companies which is separate from direct sponsorship. I am disappointed that the Minister has not been able to come back with a proposal to deal with this because it is clear from his comments on Committee Stage that he felt there was a matter to be dealt with. There is something wrong in having a third level institution benefiting from funding by a tobacco company in terms of trying to ensure a concerted impact in relation to reducing the level of cigarette smoking. I am interested to hear why it was not possible for the Minister to deal with this issue.

I had a look at this between Committee Stage and Report Stage. I had specifically said that I would re-examine the issue as it pertained to financial contributions to educational establishments, particularly third level colleges. I had discussions with the Parliamentary Counsel and his advice, and the strong legal advice, was that we have gone as far as we can on the patronage issue and that the comprehensive definition of sponsorship in section 36 of the Bill would effectively prohibit any form of patronage where there is any evidence of a consideration being sought or given for such patronage. In other words, if a tobacco company gave funding for the chair of a particular faculty, the chair could not be named after that company and no advertising could be secured for that company as a result.

I received further advice that there would be difficulty in terms of trying to impose particular obligations on universities on the grounds that they are independent, in essence. That was fought some years ago, but we have no right to interfere with their freedom to accept gifts from whoever they wish provided that they do not act in a manner that is at variance with the object of the university or college, or that is inconsistent with its functions. On public health grounds, we can ban patronage and sponsorship but there might be constitutional difficulties in trying to ban an individual who wanted to give money to a university without receiving anything in return, that person being connected to the tobacco industry, from doing so. However, we can ban any consideration being given to a tobacco company in response to, or as a result of, the sponsorship or patronage that the company may have offered to a college or university.

On those grounds, I regret that I cannot accept the amendment even though I find it absolutely reprehensible that any university would entertain any form of funding from a tobacco company.

I will withdraw the amendment because of what the Minister has said but I suggest that he transmits those views to the universities. He should make it clear that, while we respect their independence, we feel that they have a duty as third level educational establishments to be part of what has to be an integrated effort to reduce the level of cigarette smoking, and to reduce the power and influence of cigarette companies.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 3 not moved.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 6, to delete lines 24 and 25.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 7 is related to amendment No. 5 and amendments Nos. 196, 202 and 203 are consequential. These amendments may be discussed together, by agreement.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 6, between lines 37 and 38, to insert the following:

" ‘licensed premises' has the same meaning as it has in the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1988;".

These are drafting amendments which were agreed with the parliamentary counsel. The definition of "licensed premises" and "registered club" are deleted from sections 43 and 46 and relocated to section 2.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 6, between lines 38 and 39, to insert the following:

" ‘Office' means the Office of Tobacco Control established under section 9;”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 7:

In page 6, between lines 42 and 43, to insert the following:

" ‘registered club' has the same meaning as it has in the Registration of Clubs Acts 1904 to 2000;".

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 8 is consequential on amendment No. 160. Amendment No. 197a on the first additional list of amendments, dated 15 February, is an alternative. Amendments Nos. 8, 160 and 197a may be discussed together, by agreement.

I do not have a copy of amendment No. 197a. I have a copy of amendment No. 197.

Amendment No. 197a is on the first additional list.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 7, between lines 2 and 3, to insert the following:

" ‘specialist tobacconist' means a retail outlet specialising wholly or mainly in the sale of tobacco products other than cigarettes;".

I proposed this amendment on Committee Stage because I was concerned about specialist shops that normally provide cigars and do so on a basis that is totally different to the sale of cigarettes. The proposal from the Minister provides for certification and perhaps the Minister will explain the basis for this. It seems to deal with the issues I have raised.

On Committee Stage, I agreed to consider the position regarding specialist cigar tobacco shops on the understanding that there were one or two in the country and that the provisions regarding tobacco advertising would put them out of business. We are talking about a type of tobacco outlet that specialises in expensive cigars and tobacco products only, and caters for a clientele on average aged 30 and upwards. In that regard, I have put forward amendment No. 197a which would give the Minister of the day enabling powers to allow such establishments to be—

Will the Minister read the amendment?

I will, after I explain this. It would allow such establishments to be excluded from the Bill on an individual application basis. The matter was discussed further with the parliamentary counsel who has drafted an amendment which will allow the Minister to grant a certificate exempting persons who are engaged wholly in the business of selling tobacco products. The new section provides that the Minister may make regulations regarding the size and nature of the premises concerned, the type of tobacco products sold, the information to be supplied by the applicant, payment of fees to defray expenses and the period for which the exemption may be enforced.

The amendment states that:

"44.–(1) This section shall apply to a person who carries on in whole the business of selling—

(a) tobacco products, or

(b) products used for the purposes of or in connection with smoking, by retail, other than a person who carries on in whole such business being a subsidiary of a company that does not carry on in whole such business.

(2) The Minister may issue a certificate to a person to whom this section applies, upon application being made in that behalf by that person, stating that section 43 shall not apply to him or her in respect of such premises as are specified in the certificate, and accordingly, where the Minister issues such a certificate, section 43 shall not apply to the person in relation to those premises while such certificate remains in force.

(3) The Minister shall not issue a certificate where—

(a) the person making the application concerned is in contravention of regulations under this section,

(b) there is a contravention of such regulations in respect of the premises to which the application concerned relates.

(4) The Minister may make regulations for the purposes of this section, and, without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, such regulations may provide—

(a) for the minimum size of premises to which a certificate under this section shall apply,

(b) that such premises shall not form part of another premises in which products other than those referred to in subsection (1) are sold,

(c) for the proportion of tobacco products that may be sold in the form of cigarettes on those premises,

(d) for the form of an application under this section and the information and documentation that shall accompany such application,

(e) for the payment of fees by a person who makes an application under this section, for the purposes of defraying expenses incurred in considering such application or issuing a certificate under this section, or

(f) the period in respect of which a certificate under this section shall continue in force.

(5) The Minister may revoke a certificate under this section if—

(a) the person to whom the certificate is issued—

(i) contravenes the regulations under this section, or

(ii) ceases to be a person to whom this section applies, or

(b) there is a contravention of such regulations in relation to the premises concerned.

(6) In this section ‘subsidiary' has the same meaning as it has in section 155 of the Companies Act, 1963.".

This is to prevent a situation where the tobacco industry or companies could set up a range of subsidiaries. That cannot happen under this amendment. One cannot set up stand alone tobacco outlets in supermarkets or in any area where there are other shops and other products being sold. The amendment gives enabling powers to the Minister to grant a certificate to the very rare, individual cases that have so far been identified – I think only two have been identified – specialising in cigar, tobacco and smoking utensils. We have not banned smoking in this legislation – in other words, we have not stopped retailers from selling cigarettes which would be the logical conclusion in that if one does it for one, one has to do it for all. Representations were made by all sides of the House on this issue. My main concern was to be reasonable while at the same time making sure there were no loopholes which could subsequently be exploited by the tobacco industry.

Will the Minister explain in layman's language what the effect would be on a company specialising in the sale of cigars which also sells cigarettes or some other product as a small part of its business? Apparently, the exemption could apply to it but I would like the Minister to spell that out. Did the Minister mention the age of 30 during his earlier contribution?

Age 30 and upwards would be the age of those engaging in this kind of behaviour, that is, smoking specialised cigars.

Will the Minister explain the reasoning behind—

The age of 30 is not in the amendment. This is an enabling measure. The Minister may introduce regulations concerning the size of the place, how many cigarettes can be sold and so forth. It really applies to a shop specialising in an expensive range of cigars. It refers more to gift shops selling smoking utensils, cigars and pipes.

So they might be able to sell a small amount of cigarettes on the side.

I imagine they could sell cigarettes in one of these shops.

In that case, would they have to comply with the same obligations as, say, an RGDATA member in terms of visibility to the public?

They would in respect of cigarettes but not in respect of cigars. That is the point. I will have a look at it in terms of cigarettes. It is an interesting point but I imagine the answer is yes.

Would the regulations cover that?

The regulations cover that. I can make regulations saying this is how one is to do it.

I am happy to withdraw my amendment. I thank the Minister saving a lot of christenings and weddings which would have been spoiled if people had not been able to get cigars to celebrate.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 8, line 36, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

Amendment agreed to.

In accordance with an order of the Dáil of this day, I call on the Minister to move amendments Nos. 10, 13 to 31, inclusive, 33 to 96, inclusive, 98 to 157, inclusive, 161 to 172, inclusive, 174 to 181, inclusive, 183 to 191, inclusive, and 204 to 211, inclusive.

I move the following amendments:

10. In page 8, line 43, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

13. In page 9, line 32, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

14. In page 9, line 38, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

15. In page 9, line 39, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

16. In page 9, line 40, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

17. In page 9, line 41, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

18. In page 10, line 1, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

19. In page 10, line 13, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

20. In page 10, line 35, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

21. In page 10, line 37, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

22. In page 11, line 12, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

23. In page 11, line 16, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

24. In page 11, line 21, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

25. In page 11, line 22, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

26. In page 11, line 34, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

27. In page 11, line 36, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

28. In page 11, line 38, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

29. In page 11, line 40, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

30. In page 11, line 43, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

31. In page 11, line 44, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

33. In page 11, line 46, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

34. In page 12, line 1, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

35. In page 12, line 4, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

36. In page 12, line 17, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

37. In page 12, line 22, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

38. In page 12, line 25, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

39. In page 12, line 26, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

40. In page 12, line 28, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

41. In page 12, line 32, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

42. In page 12, line 34, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

43. In page 12, line 35, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

44. In page 12, line 38, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

45. In page 12, line 40, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

46. In page 12, line 41, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

47. In page 12, line 43, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

48. In page 13, line 1, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

49. In page 13, line 4, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

50. In page 13, line 7, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

51. In page 13, line 9, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

52. In page 13, line 11, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

53. In page 13, line 13, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

54. In page 13, line 20, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

55. In page 13, line 21, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

56. In page 13, line 28, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

57. In page 13, line 29, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

58. In page 13, line 38, to delete "Agency" where it firstly occurs and substitute "Office".

59. In page 13, line 38, to delete "Agency" where it secondly occurs and substitute "Office".

60. In page 13, line 41, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

61. In page 13, line 42, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

62. In page 14, line 1, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

63. In page 14, line 3, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

64. In page 14, line 5, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

65. In page 14, line 8, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

66. In page 14, line 14, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

67. In page 14, line 22, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

68. In page 14, line 24, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

69. In page 14, line 29, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

70. In page 14, line 33, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

71. In page 14, line 34, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

72. In page 14, line 37, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

73. In page 14, line 39, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

74. In page 14, line 42, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

75. In page 14, line 43, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

76. In page 15, line 2, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

77. In page 15, line 3, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

78. In page 15, line 4, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

79. In page 15, line 11, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

80. In page 15, line 13, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

81. In page 15, line 17, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

82. In page 15, line 21, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

83. In page 15, line 23, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

84. In page 15, line 28, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

85. In page 15, line 30, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

86. In page 15, line 31, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

87. In page 15, line 33, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

88. In page 15, line 35, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

89. In page 15, line 37, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

90. In page 15, line 39, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

91. In page 15, line 43, to delete "Agency" where it firstly occurs and substitute "Office".

92. In page 15, line 43, to delete "Agency" where it secondly occurs and substitute "Office".

93. In page 15, line 44, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

94. In page 16, line 2, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

95. In page 16, line 3, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

96. In page 16, line 4, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

98. In page 16, line 8, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

99. In page 16, line 9, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

100. In page 16, line 15, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

101. In page 16, line 16, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

102. In page 16, line 17, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

103. In page 16, line 18, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

104. In page 16, line 19, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

105. In page 16, line 22, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

106. In page 16, line 24, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

107. In page 16, line 25, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

108.In page 16, line 26, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

109. In page 16, line 28, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

110. In page 16, line 30, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

111. In page 16, line 32, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

112. In page 16, line 33, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

113. In page 16, line 34, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

114. In page 16, line 35, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

115. In page 16, line 38, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

116. In page 16, line 42, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

117. In page 16, line 45, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

118. In page 17, line 1, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

119. In page 17, line 11, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

120. In page 17, line 21, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

121. In page 17, line 23, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

122. In page 17, line 28, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

123. In page 17, line 30, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

124. In page 17, line 34, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

125. In page 17, line 37, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

126. In page 17, line 39, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

127. In page 17, line 43, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

128. In page 17, line 44, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

129. In page 17, line 46, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

130. In page 18, line 1, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

131. In page 18, line 4, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

132. In page 18, line 5, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

133. In page 18, line 7, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

134. In page 18, line 8, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

135. In page 18, line 9, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

136. In page 18, line 11, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

137. In page 18, line 14, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

138. In page 18, line 16, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

139. In page 18, line 17, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

140. In page 18, line 18, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

141. In page 18, line 21, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

142. In page 18, line 27, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

143. In page 18, line 29, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

144. In page 18, line 36, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

145. In page 18, line 37, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

146. In page 18, line 38, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

147. In page 18, line 42, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

148. In page 18, line 47, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

149. In page 19, line 4, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

150. In page 19, line 7, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

151. In page 19, line 12, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

152. In page 19, line 17, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

153. In page 19, line 24, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

154. In page 19, line 35, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

155. In page 19, line 36, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

156. In page 19, line 40, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

157. In page 19, line 42, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

161. In page 20, line 15, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

162. In page 21, line 7, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

163. In page 21, line 37, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

164. In page 21, line 41, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

165. In page 22, line 3, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

166. In page 22, line 9, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office"

167. In page 22, line 22, to delete "Agency" where it firstly occurs and substitute "Office".

168. In page 22, line 22, to delete "Agency" where it secondly occurs and substitute "Office".

169. In page 22, line 34, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

170. In page 22, line 35, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

171. In page 22, line 43, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

172. In page 23, line 6, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

174. In page 23, line 15, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

175. In page 23, line 25, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

176. In page 23, line 29, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

177. In page 23, line 37, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

178. In page 23, line 48, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

179. In page 24, line 6, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

180. In page 24, line 7, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

181. In page 24, line 12, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

183. In page 26, line 10, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

184. In page 26, line 13, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

185. In page 26, line 19, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

186. In page 26, line 30, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

187. In page 26, line 32, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

188. In page 26, line 35, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

189. In page 26, line 38, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

190. In page 26, line 45, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

191. In page 27, line 4, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

204. In page 30, line 38, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

205. In page 31, line 4, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

206. In page 33, line 40, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

207. In page 33, line 41, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

208. In page 33, line 43, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

209. In page 33, line 45, to delete "Agency" and substitute "Office".

210. In page 35, line 3, to delete "Agency" where it firstly occurs and substitute "Office".

211. In page 35, line 3, to delete "Agency" where it secondly occurs and substitute "Office".

Amendments agreed to.

I move amendment No. 10a:

In page 9, line 20, to delete "remain" and substitute "continue".

This is a tidying up, drafting amendment which was agreed with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel. The word "continue" replaces the word "remain".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 10b:

In page 9, line 23, to delete "226" and substitute "326".

SI 326 of 1991 replaces SI 226 of 1991. The amendment basically corrects a reference to a statutory instrument.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 11:

In page 9, to delete lines 29 to 31, and substitute the following:

"(1) There is hereby established a body to be known as the Office of Tobacco Control (in the Act referred to as the ‘Office') to perform the functions assigned to it by this Act.".

Amendment agreed to.

Acting Chairman:

Amendment No. 12 has already been discussed with amendment No. 1. It is an alternative to amendment No. 11 and it cannot be moved.

Amendment No. 12 not moved.

Acting Chairman:

Amendments Nos. 13 to 31, inclusive, have already been agreed to.

I move amendment No. 32:

In page 11, between lines 44 and 45, to insert the following:

"(6) Members of the OTC shall not have any direct or indirect interest in the tobacco industry and the members shall make a written declaration to that effect to the Minister.".

This amendment relates to members of the Office of Tobacco Control being required not to have any direct or indirect interest in the tobacco industry. It states that members shall make a written declaration to that effect to the Minister. It is a reasonable proposal. In the past I came across an agency under the Department of Health and Children where a person who was on the board of that agency was also involved with a tobacco company. It seemed to me an undesirable relationship. In this case, given that members of the Office of Tobacco Control will be members of an office which will have a lot of powers, it would be reasonable for them to make a declaration to the Minister that they do not have any direct or indirect interest in the tobacco industry. I raised this issue on Committee Stage and I think the Minister said he would reflect on it between then and Report Stage.

I undertook to look at the possibility of doing this but we were advised by the parliamentary counsel that it is not necessary to accept the amendment because a similar requirement in relation to declarations will apply to members under the Ethics in Public Office Act, 1995. This Act applies to all appointments to State bodies.

I think the Ethics in Public Office Act would require members to make a declaration of their interests. I am looking for a declaration that they do not have any direct or indirect interest in the tobacco industry. In other words, the implications of what I am requiring are that they could not be a member of the Office of Tobacco Control if they had any such interests. If it is merely a matter of making a declaration under the Ethics Act, they could have major investments in tobacco companies and just declare them. The implications of my amendment are that they would not be suitable persons for the office because they would have to make a declaration that they do not have such an interest.

The Minister of the day would not appoint somebody with a direct interest in the tobacco industry. The problem as I saw it on Committee Stage was that people would not know whether they had an interest and that there was no basis for declaring it. Under the Ethics Act there is a basis to so declare.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Acting Chairman:

Amendments Nos. 33 to 96, inclusive, have already been moved and accepted.

I move amendment No. 97:

In page 16, to delete line 7, and substitute the following:

"(a) 12 shall be appointed by the Minister, of whom not less than one shall be a person or persons nominated by such body or bodies as the Minister may determine being–

(i) (where the Minister makes a determination in relation to one body only) a body that has as its principal object, or

(ii) (where the Minister makes a determination in relation to more than one body) bodies that have as their principal objects, the promotion of abstinence from smoking, and".

I agreed on Committee Stage to consider an amendment tabled by Deputy McManus which provides that a member of ASH Ireland be nominated by the Minister to the Tobacco Free Council. I have discussed again with the parliamentary counsel drafting an amendment which provides for the Minister to appoint not less than one person from an anti-smoking organisation to the council. This allows for the nomination of a person from ASH or a similar organisation, without mentioning any organisation by name. The wording takes account of any name changes that might be made to ASH or similar bodies.

If an organisation is included by name in legislation and subsequently alters its name, it would necessitate an amendment to the Act in the future. We have provided here that "12 shall be appointed by the Minister, of whom not less than one shall be a person or persons nominated by such body or bodies as the Minister may determine" and that the bodies in question have as their principal object the promotion of abstinence from smoking.

This is an excellent amendment. I am delighted that the Minister has taken on board the spirit of my amendment. Perhaps he would clarify the term "parliamentary counsel". I have not heard it before. Is this a new description of parliamentary draftsman? This new term sounds much more important than parliamentary draftsman. I feel there is a bit of wordplay going on and perhaps the Minister could explain it. Is this an ancient term?

I am informed that it is about a year old.

I can honestly say that I did not invent it or coin it. However, during the drafting of this Bill, I have become very aware of it.

I have no doubt the Minister became aware of it. They have done a good job in relation to this amendment. However, the parliamentary counsel's office has not been very good at preparing this Bill. Many changes have had to be made; many of them are technical but fairly obvious. Even though they have a very important name, I suggest that they look and learn from this Bill.

Who are they? Are they the same people?

They are the draftsmen.

Acting Chairman:

I am not sure that this has anything to do with the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Acting Chairman:

Amendments Nos. 98 to 157, inclusive, have already been moved and agreed. Amendment No. 159 is related to amendment No. 158 and both may be discussed together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

I move amendment No. 158:

In page 20, line 14, after "sold" to insert "in circumstances where the sale of the product may reasonably be regarded as increasing the sale of the tobacco product".

Section 33 in Part 3 deals with the prohibition of advertising of tobacco products. The effect of amendment No. 158 would be to add at the end of section 33(2)(b), after the words “any trade description, designation, trademark, emblem, marketing image or logo by reference to which a tobacco product is marketed or sold” the words “in circumstances where the sale of the product may reasonably be regarded as increasing the sale of the tobacco product”.

Amendment No. 159 would add a new subsection (3), which would state:

The OTC may upon an application in writing exempt a brand, with such conditions attaching as the OTC at its absolute discretion may attach, that includes the name of a tobacco product where it is satisfied that the advertising of the brand is clearly distinct from the tobacco product and cannot reasonably be regarded as increasing, maintaining or supporting the sales of tobacco products.

This section, dealing with the prohibition of advertising of tobacco products, is one which I strongly support. I have no difficulty with it as drafted. However, amending subsection 2(b) would improve it. I suggest the insertion of a new subsection (3) because it has been brought to my attention that there are companies called “Marlboro” that promote but which have nothing to do with the brand of cigarette. There is also a company called “Camel”, which promotes the cigarette, but also has a range of other businesses. It could use the title in the promotion of the other parts of the business without the intention of promoting smoking and in a way that does not promote smoking.

I would not go to the wall on this amendment but I do not want to leave any loopholes. However, if we leave it in the hands of the Office of Tobacco Control, I doubt it would be likely to take a soft approach to giving an exemption to a brand in the circumstances I suggest. I have every confidence that the OTC would not take a soft approach or allow anybody to abuse the rules while at the same time ensuring that anybody who has a business, which can naturally and properly be conducted while not promoting or be seen to promote tobacco products, can go about its work in a lawful way. I am not proposing that the Minister take power or that we set such power out in the legislation. My suggestion is that the OTC would have the ability to make the exemption. Since the OTC is the gatekeeper in this matter, it certainly would not be likely to give any body a soft run on this issue. That seems to be the most reasonable way of dealing with it.

I have looked at this again since Committee Stage. The purpose of Deputy Mitchell's amendment is to deal with the possibility of a bona fide non-tobacco manufacturer or trader who coincidentally shares the same name as a tobacco manufacturer from, for instance, marketing T-shirts with its name on them. The Deputy expressed concern that the current brand-stretching provisions of the Bill would prohibit such a practice. The legal advice was that the current provisions were carefully constructed so that it would be clear to any court that the intention is to prohibit a tobacco manufacturer or trader from brand-stretching and that there is no danger of a bona fide trader, not being a tobacco manufacturer, being prosecuted. The legal advice is that the amendment is unnecessary.

What about amendment No. 158?

Acting Chairman:

We are on amendment No. 158.

The Minister addressed my concerns in relation to amendment No. 159, but what about my concerns in the context of amendment No. 158 and the inclusion of the phrase "in circumstances where the sale of the product may reasonably be regarded as increasing the sale of the tobacco product"?

That is covered by the existing provisions.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments Nos. 159 and 160 not moved.

Acting Chairman:

Amendments Nos. 161 to 172, inclusive, have already been moved and agreed.

I move amendment No. 173:

In page 23, line 13, to delete "product" and substitute "products".

This is a drafting amendment which was agreed with the parliamentary counsel.

Amendment agreed to.

Acting Chairman:

Amendments Nos. 174 to 181, inclusive, have already been moved and agreed.

I move amendment No. 182:

In page 24, between lines 43 and 44, to insert the following:

"(b) The Minister may, by regulation, increase the minimum number of cigarettes in a pack.”.

The purpose of this amendment is to insert in section 38(1), which deals with the prohibition of certain marketing practices, a new power for the Minister. Section 38(1) at present provides that it shall be an offence for persons to sell cigarettes by retail other than in a packet containing not less than 20 cigarettes. The amendment would add a new paragraph (b) to provide that the Minister could increase the minimum number of cigarettes in a packet, if the size of tobacco packets changes. I understand that in some countries there are packets of 25 cigarettes. That is the purpose of the amendment. I raised this on Committee Stage and the Minister undertook to come back to it on Report Stage.

We sought legal advice on this amendment to which, as I said on Committee Stage, I was favourably disposed. The issue has been considered in depth by the parliamentary counsel and I have been strongly advised against accepting such an amendment or moving a similar one on the grounds that it could make the Bill vulnerable to an attack. Foreign manufacturers might contend that, if we unilaterally increased the number of cigarettes in a packet to 25, it would not be worth their while to supply the Irish market because of that restriction. They could contend that this would amount to competitive advantage being given to domestic manufacturers and constitute a quantitative restriction on trade between member states. The advice is that it would be safer to seek to make progress on the issue at European level at which there have been numerous assaults on tobacco legislation in the context of internal market regulations, because of which one EU directive was struck down. On that basis I pull back from accepting the amendment.

How does that apply to my amendment but not section 38(1), which makes provision that a retailer shall not sell cigarettes other than in a packet containing not less than 20 cigarettes? Why does the section not contravene the directive while the amendment would?

Packets of ten and 20 are the industry standard. We are getting rid of one packet. If we were to move towards packets of 25, 26 or 27, there would be a situation where there would be different packet sizes in different markets and manufacturers within Europe would claim they were being deprived of a particular market. It could be construed as a trade barrier.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Acting Chairman:

Amendments Nos. 183 to 191, inclusive, have already been moved and agreed.

Bill recommitted in respect of amendment No. 192.

I move amendment No. 192:

In page 27, between lines 5 and 6, to insert the following:

"(6) Proceedings under subsection (3) shall be held in camera.”.

The purpose of this amendment is to take account of the fact that an application from a manufacturer or importer under subsection (3) would be grounded on the contention that the proposal of the office to publish information or results of tests under subsection (1) would result in the disclosure of a secret manufacturing process. Our strong legal advice is that such a hearing would have to be in camera, an oversight not provided for in the first instance.

I am very suspicious of the tobacco industry. I have no confidence in the bona fides of those behind it. They are wealthy and devious individuals who have avoided their duty to appear before a committee of this House when asked to do so. As they may be compelled to do so, depending on the outcome of a court case dealing with another matter, I am suspicious of any changes that will allow them to make their case in camera. Section 41(3) already states that the High Court, if of the opinion that the publication of information or the results of tests in accordance with subsection (1) would result in the disclosure of a secret manufacturing process, may direct the agency not to publish this information or results upon application being made to the High Court in that behalf by the manufacturer or importer concerned. I would prefer if proceedings under subsection (3) were held in camera at the discretion of the High Court. If, at its discretion, the High Court was of the view that there was a case of a secret manufacturing process being made available, fine, but in using the word “shall” we are directing it. I have a difficulty with this.

There is a deliberate strategy on the part of the tobacco industry not to disclose a secret manufacturing process, not because competitors would find out – I am certain they already know each other's processes – but because legislators, the courts, journalists or the public might find out. The evidence points towards the fact that there are variations made to make the product deliberately addictive. Further evidence has been given that this product is more addictive than heroin or cocaine. Clearly, as heroin and cocaine do damage more quickly, I do not put it in that league, but it is highly addictive. They target this addictive product at very young people. That is their objective – to get them using the product and guarantee their future sales, thereby increasing the cancer rate in any country where this trend is followed. I am very nervous about the people concerned having the power to keep this secret. I, therefore, ask the Minister to accept that he should delete the word "shall" and substitute that hearings may be held in camera at the discretion of the High Court. That would be more reasonable.

Subsection (3), at the bottom of page 26, contains the word "may," in the sense that the High Court may, if of the opinion that the publication of information or the results of tests in accordance with subsection (1) would result in the disclosure of a secret manufacturing process, direct the agency not to publish such information or results upon application being made to the High Court in that behalf by the manufacturer or importer concerned. Subsection (6) states that proceedings under subsection (3) shall be held in camera, on the presumption that if the case is being taken on the basis of not disclosing a secret manufacturing process, obviously, it will have to be held in camera.

The substantive point – I have examined this matter at some length and discussed it in depth with the parliamentary counsel – is that I do not want the Bill to be struck down. I have been strongly warned that it would be vulnerable to challenge if subsection (3) was deleted. This balancing act is a safeguard to protect the Bill in terms of subsequent assaults that may come. I am under no illusions that once the Bill passes through both Houses it may come under legal assault from various interests. That is the advice I received and, faced with it, I had no option but to safeguard the Bill.

I cannot accept that. The House is being too malleable in accepting the concerns and implied threats of the tobacco industry that it will go to the courts, in which I have every confidence in this type of situation. There are other instances, such as some social issues, where the courts are not representative and can be patronising, but on this one they would be sensible and take into account—

The word "may" has been included.

It is, but we are introducing a new section. We are recommitting the Bill to facilitate it. It requires, under amendment No. 192, that a new subsection (6) be inserted stating that under subsection (3) the proceedings shall be held in camera. What is wrong with using the word “may“? Why are we binding the courts with the word “shall“?

If the first strand goes ahead under subsection (3), the second strand will be in camera. I can see the logic in this.

The Minister is saying—

I understand and respect the Deputy's views on the issue.

What would the problem be in leaving the decision to the High Court? If the High Court is of the opinion that the publication of information on results in accordance with subsection (1) would result in the disclosure surely, if it had the option –"may" rather than "shall"– it would follow the logic and hear the case in camera? Why are we tying the hands of the High Court? I do not like the use of the word “shall” in this particular case. We should leave it to the discretion of the High Court. The Legislature would be unnecessarily binding the hands of the High Court in these circumstances. I take the Minister's point that if it goes as far as section 3 and says that there is a case, the logic would follow that maybe it would be held in camera. It may not always follow, however, and so we should leave it to the discretion of the court. Rather than saying it “shall”, I think we should say it “may”. The difficulty is that we recommitted this on Report Stage and we do not have very much time to deal with it. If the logic is that having accepted that there may be the possibility of a disclosure of a secret process becoming public, presumably the High Court would have the ability to decide under “may” rather than “shall” that it would take the course the Minister presumes to be obvious. It may not be obvious in every case, however. There may be circumstances where the High Court does not want to hear cases in camera. It may well be that the court wishes to put manners on a stroppy applicant. We should insert the word “may” here instead of “shall”.

I appreciate the Deputy's concerns but I have received strong legal advice on this matter. I argued the toss over it for quite some time and have aired it thoroughly with the parliamentary counsel. The legal advice was that if the Bill was to be challenged subsequently the insertion of subsection (3), and subsection (6) which is allied to it, was an essential safeguard to protect the Bill in terms of reasonableness.

Why is this amendment being introduced now? Why was no such amendment introduced when the Bill was circulated or on Committee Stage? What representations have been made to the Department? What threats or contacts have there been from the tobacco industry? What contact has there been from solicitors or others acting on behalf of the industry? Where did this proposal come from? If it came from the parliamentary counsel why then did the counsel not insert this in the original draft or put forward an amendment on Committee Stage? This concern was not raised on Committee Stage by any member of the committee or by the Minister, so where did this proposal come from?

It came from the parliamentary counsel. I have had no representations on this issue from anybody and I have had no engagement from the tobacco industry on the Bill at all. It has written in but I have met nobody. I have not entertained any proposals from the tobacco industry in respect of this Bill or, indeed, any proposal contained in the Bill. This came exclusively from the parliamentary counsel. According to my note, it was an oversight which led to the fact that it was not provided for on Committee Stage. I take that in good faith and I can assure the Deputy that is the only reason I have not accepted his amendment. We discussed the entire subsection on Committee Stage when many representations were made about the appropriateness or otherwise of inserting subsection (3). That is the issue I re-examined. After a long discussion it was made clear to me that if I was to take it out, I would do so at my peril and might render the entire Bill vulnerable to legal challenge. So, I opted for safety.

Is the Parliamentary Counsel the same as the parliamentary draftsmen of old?

Are they located in the Office of the Attorney General?

Is the Minister giving an absolute assurance to the House that they did not receive any legal threat, representations or contact and that they are putting this forward in the public interest?

Absolutely. I give that assurance.

Based on the Minister's assurance, I will not divide the House on this matter.

I appreciate that.

However, it is with great reluctance that I am doing so. I am accepting the Minister's word on that matter. I am not distrustful of the Minister but I am very distrustful of the tobacco industry.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment reported.

I move amendment No. 193:

In page 27, to delete lines 41 to 47, and substitute the following:

"(3) A person registered under section 37 (other than a person to whom regulations under subsection (2) apply) shall ensure that tobacco products sold by him or her are kept in a closed container or dispenser that is not visible or accessible to any person other than the first-mentioned person, or a person employed by him or her in connection with the business of selling goods by retail while so employed.”.

This is a drafting amendment to tidy up the legislation. It was agreed with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel to the Government. The words "while so employed" are being added to the end of this subsection.

Why is it so long if it is just a tidying up amendment?

We are re-entering it, adding the words "while so employed" to what was already there.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 194:

In page 28, to delete lines 1 and 2, and substitute the following:

"(4) A person registered under section 37 shall ensure that—

(a) the registration number in respect of him or her is affixed to the container, dispenser or vending machine, as the case may be,”.

The term "vending machine" is being added to "container" and "dispenser", and the retail registration number shall be affixed to all three.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 195:

In page 28, line 24, after "himself" to insert "or herself".

This is a drafting amendment which was agreed with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 196 has already been discussed with amendment No. 5.

I move amendment No. 196:

In page 28, to delete lines 28 to 32.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 197 arises from Committee proceedings. Is the Minister moving this amendment?

No, I do not propose to move amendments Nos. 197, 212 or 213. These all relate to the issue of age cards, which is now addressed by amendment No. 198 and the new amendment No. 199a. I can deal with the issues when we come to amendment No. 198.

Why is the Minister withdrawing this very detailed proposal? Amendment No. 198 says something different; it refers to a person who "made all reasonable efforts". In amendment No. 197 the Minister was proposing to do what was done under the Intoxicating Liquor Act and make specific provision for an identity card or, failing that, under regulations one or more listed items would do.

No, what I am proposing is much simpler. Prior to this, the suggested amendments Nos. 197, 212 and 213 came forward but I felt they were too unwieldy, particularly in giving the Office of Tobacco Control the right to issue age cards. Already, under the Intoxicating Liquor Act, there is an age card mechanism. On Committee Stage I made it clear that I felt we should utilise the provisions of the Intoxicating Liquor Act which we are doing in the new amendments Nos. 198 and 199a. They do two things which are in line with the Deputy's amendment. Amendment No. 199a states that in this section “age card” has the same meaning as it has in Part IV of the Intoxicating Liquor Act.

I am sorry. That is on the supplementary list which I did not see.

It is far simpler.

Amendment No. 197 not moved.

Amendment No. 197a has already been discussed with amendment No. 8.

I move amendment No. 197a:

In page 28, between lines 32 and 33, to insert the following:

"44.–(1) This section shall apply to a person who carries on in whole the business of selling—

(a) tobacco products, or

(b) products used for the purposes of or in connection with smoking, by retail, other than a person who carries on in whole such business being a subsidiary of a company that does not carry on in whole such business.

(2) The Minister may issue a certificate to a person to whom this section applies, upon application being made in that behalf by that person, stating that section 43 shall not apply to him or her in respect of such premises as are specified in the certificate, and accordingly, where the Minister issues such a certificate, section 43 shall not apply to the person in relation to those premises while such certificate remains in force.

(3) The Minister shall not issue a certificate where—

(a) the person making the application concerned is in contravention of regulations under this section,

(b) there is a contravention of such regulations in respect of the premises to which the application concerned relates.

(4) The Minister may make regulations for the purposes of this section, and, without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, such regulations may provide—

(a) for the minimum size of premises to which a certificate under this section shall apply,

(b) that such premises shall not form part of another premises in which products other than those referred to in subsection are sold,

(c) for the proportion of tobacco products that may be sold in the form of cigarettes on those premises,

(d) for the form of an application under this section and the information and documentation that shall accompany such application,

(e) for the payment of fees by a person who makes an application under this section, for the purposes of defraying expenses incurred in considering such application or issuing a certificate under this section, or

(f) the period in respect of which a certificate under this section shall continue in force.

(5) The Minister may revoke a certificate under this section if—

(a) the person to whom the certificate is issued—

(i) contravenes regulations under this section, or

(ii) ceases to be a person to whom this section applies, or

(b) there is a contravention of such regulations in relation to the premises concerned.

(6) In this section 'subsidiary' has the same meaning as it has in section 155 of the Companies Act, 1963.".

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 199 is an alternative to amendment No. 198, amendment No. 199a is consequential, and amendments Nos. 212 and 213 are related. Amendments Nos. 198, 199, 199a, 212 and 213 may be discussed together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 198:

In page 28, to delete lines 37 to 42, and substitute the following:

"(2) In proceedings for an offence under subsection (1) it shall be a defence for the person against whom such proceedings are brought to prove that—

(a) he or she made all reasonable efforts to satisfy himself or herself that the person to whom the alleged offence relates had at the time of the alleged commission of the offence attained the age of 18 years, or

(b) the person specified in paragraph (a) produced to the first-mentioned person an age card, for the time being in force, relating to the person so specified.”.

We define what we mean in the following amendment, No. 199a as to what “age card” means. We say in subsection (4) of this section that age card has the same meaning as it has in Part IV of the Intoxicating Liquor Act. It meets the concerns of Deputies Mitchell and McManus.

It meets the concerns and I did specifically raise the Intoxicating Liquor Act. I did not see amendment No. 199a when I intervened on the last section because it is the last amendment on the list of supplementary amendments, but it seems an improvement and I am happy to go along with that.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 199 not moved.

Amendment No. 199a arises out of Committee and has already been discussed with amendment No. 198.

I move amendment No. 199a:

In page 29, between lines 2 and 3, to insert the following:

"(4) In this section ‘age card' has the same meaning as it has in Part IV of the Intoxicating Liquor Act, 1988.".

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 200 is a drafting amendment. Amendment No. 201 is related and they may be taken together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 200:

In page 30, to delete line 3.

Consequent on amendments taken on Committee Stage, "all or part of any other premises or place," is repositioned at the end of the list in section 46(1).

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 201:

In page 30, between lines 5 and 6, to insert the following:

"(g) all or part of any other premises or place,”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 202 has already been discussed with amendment No. 5.

I move amendment No. 202:

In page 30, to delete lines 31 and 32.

Would the Minister please explain again why we are deleting these lines?

It has already been discussed but the Minister may wish to make a brief reply.

Is that the age card issue?

If the Minister looks at lines 31 and 32, licensed premises has the same meaning as it has in the Intoxicating Liquor Act, 1988. What has that got to do with the age issue? In lines 35 and 36, registered club has the same meaning as it has in the Registration of Clubs Acts, 1904 to 2000.

The definition of licensed premises in the Registration of Clubs Acts is deleted in sections 43 and 46 and relocated to section 2. I said that earlier. The question was what was a relocation so we put them in elsewhere in the Bill.

So it has not changed.

No. We have taken them out of one section and put them back in another.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment 203 has already been discussed with amendment No. 5.

I move amendment No. 203:

In page 30, to delete lines 35 and 36.

Amendment agreed to.

The decision taken in connection with amendment No. 9 covered amendments Nos. 204 to 211 inclusive. Those amendments have been agreed.

Amendments Nos. 212 and 213 not moved.

I move amendment No. 214:

In page 36, after line 23, to insert the following:

"SCHEDULE

Enactment amended(1)

Words to be inserted(2)

Poisons Regulations 1982 (No. 188 of 1982) (as amended):Part II of the Third Schedule, second column

All nicotine replacement products for therapeutic use which are supplied in compliance with the requirements of the Medicinal Products (Prescription and Control of Supply) Regulations 1996 (No. 256 of 1996) and its Schedules

I am happy to withdraw this amendment. I understand that the Minister can deal with this issue but perhaps he would clarify it for me.

I can deal with this under the Poisons Regulations, 1982, which can be amended to achieve Deputy McManus's objective without amending this Bill. I am considering the amendment of the Poisons Regulations to allow for nicotine replacement therapy to be sold over the counter.

I am glad the Minister can do so but what I would really like to hear is that he will. Does the Minister think he might do that?

It is my intention to do so although I have to put the Deputy on notice that other bodies have difficulties with it.

I hope the Minister does not mean the Parliamentary Counsel.

No. It is the Irish Medicines Board.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Bill, as amended, received for final consideration.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

I wish to make some concluding remarks on this Bill. Both sides of the House put a lot of work into it and I am glad to see its passage. I had the honour to be the rapporteur for the second report on smoking by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children. It was published some months ago. The committee received a number of submissions from interested parties and committee members were well prepared for this legislation and well rehearsed on the issues involved. There are some quite frightening statistics in relation to smoking and tobacco. We heard evidence that says tobacco kills between 6,500 and 7,000 people in Ireland every year, that 31% of the population smokes and that between 35% and 40% of children are smoking before they reach the age of 18 years. We heard evidence that nicotine is more addictive than heroin or cocaine and that the tob acco industry was the first to know that nicotine was addictive, long before the anti-tobacco lobby had similar knowledge. We heard a wide range of information in relation to the tobacco industry, including that almost half of all those admitted to Saint James's Hospital in Dublin are suffering with smoke-related illnesses. There are now 1.1 billion smokers worldwide but by 2025 it is estimated that the figure will rise by 1.6 million. According to the report of the Royal College of Physicians in Britain, tobacco is one of the greatest causes of preventable and premature deaths.

I wish to speak about passive smoking. The Minister now has powers under this Bill and has specifically taken powers in relation to licensed premises. This was at my request and that of the Oireachtas Joint Committee and at his own initiative. He was criticised in an article in The Irish Times and I think it was for something I said rather than he said. I am strongly supportive of any steps to eradicate or reduce passive smoking. Based on statistics published in the United States, indirect smoking is the biggest killer after direct tobacco smoking and alcohol. It is reasonable to presume from those figures that something in the order of 879 people a year probably die in this country from passive smoking, inhaling the smoke of others. The problem is that they do not know they are doing it. Somebody having a pint in a pub is inhaling the tobacco of others. There was a time when people put up with that and did not complain because they thought it was the norm.

If people knew of the dangers to their health from passive smoking, particularly in public houses, there would be a huge outcry. The Government would carry out a campaign on television and radio, presumably with the Minister in the starring role, at least until the general election, telling people of the dangers. Indirect smoking is as dangerous a threat to life as the likelihood of being killed in a road traffic accident. While I do not have the figures on road traffic accidents before me, perhaps as many as 800 to 900 people die from indirect smoking per annum. There is an alarming lack of awareness by members of the public that they are exposed to this danger.

Publicans constitute a strong lobby. I have mentioned the situation in my local pub to the Minster. He is throwing his eyes to heaven but he must address this issue. The death rate in Ireland, especially from cancer and heart disease, is well above that of the European Union, which is itself above that of Canada. People in this country die younger than their peers in the European Union and much younger than their peers in Canada. We take that for granted. We talk about preventative medicine and changes in lifestyles, yet this is one area where the health of people is threatened and they are not even aware of it. It is time we made them aware that passive smoking is a threat and one that emanates primarily from public houses.

I call on the Office of Tobacco Control to use its powers to heighten the awareness of the public on this issue. We need a counter balance to the powerful lobby the publicans have at their disposal. If the office can harness the support of the public and if in response the public takes up this issue with Deputies action will be taken.

The Minister should not be deterred on this issue. He should use the powers granted to him under this legislation to deal with public houses and he should get the process under way sooner rather than later. In my draft report I suggested that a ban on smoking should be imposed in parts of public houses, at least initially, but by all-party consensus the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children amended that to call for a ban on smoking in pubs and recommended that if people wanted to smoke they should go outside or into a side room. I realise to achieve that immediately would be difficult but the Minister now has the power to achieve it in part, or all, of licensed premises. He should act on it.

I again appeal to the Office of Tobacco Control to please act as a counter balance to the powerful publicans' lobby. If it can secure the support of the public, especially the young public, Deputies will listen and will act to reverse the dramatic trend of greater risk of dying from passive smoking, notwithstanding the colourful comments of a colourful and prominent columnist with The Irish Times. I ask the Minister to act quickly and I hope the Office of Tobacco Control will act in the way I suggest.

I thank Deputies Mitchell and McManus for their constructive approach to this legislation. The all-party support for the broad thrust of the Bill has been very important in terms of a broader political consensus on taking on the tobacco industry and in endeavouring to create an environment that will reduce the incidence of tobacco smoking and the consumption of tobacco. Without question, this is the single greatest health challenge facing the country. While we talk about other issues – I am often amused by the way in which people become exercised by a range of other environmental issues – we are not sufficiently aware that the smoking of cigarettes constitutes the greatest single threat to human health in this country. It is responsible for 7,000 deaths per annum and has a huge impact on the quality of life of those over the age of 40 years if they smoke for prolonged periods in terms of asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, other lung diseases and a range of cardiac problems.

We top the European league table in terms of heart disease and are very high in terms of cancer. In no small measure that is due to smoking. The most alarming aspect of the most recent statistics available to us from the Cancer Registry, covering the years 1994-98, is the fact that lung cancer among Irish women is, I understand, over 50% above the European average. It is an appalling statistic and can be directly related to smoking.

I accept Deputy Mitchell's remarks on passive smoking. The research shows it can kill and cause significant damage to people's health. I also compliment the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children for its considered approach to the Bill and for the work it has done in producing two reports on tobacco. They complement and support the work of the Department over the past years. I pay warm tribute to my officials for the work they put into the Bill and to the Parliamentary Counsel. The counsel is under enormous strain dealing with a number of Bills in rapid succession, yet it managed to produce this Bill and acted with great patience when we pushed it to draft a significant number of amendments between Committee and Report Stages.

After just one year of existence the Office of Tobacco Control has shown its influence. Last week there was a very good debate on environmental smoking at a seminar on passive smoking, which I opened. The potential figure of 150 bar workers dying ever year from passive smoking was cited. The office is developing as a very effective counter balance to the tobacco industry in raising these issues for public debate. Significantly, people from the broader trade union movement attended the seminar. We want the movement to change its attitude to the use of increases in the price of cigarettes impacting on the consumer price index as a basis for wage increases. If we could get that stopped it would be a major development in terms of dealing with the tobacco problem.

The Office of Tobacco Control has also commissioned opinion surveys which show that the majority of smokers favour prohibitions and restrictions on passive smoking in pubs and the work place. This legislation has the potential to prohibit or restrict smoking in any public place. We have added to the list of places that can be affected and I intend to use the regulations as soon as the Bill is passed by the other House. I thank all concerned, including the external non-governmental organisations, such as ASH, who made significant contributions to the debate in the form of suggested amendments and constructive criticisms of earlier drafts of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.
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