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Seanad Éireann debate -
Friday, 8 Mar 2002

Vol. 169 No. 11

Public Health (Tobacco) Bill, 2001: Committee Stage.

Sections 1 to 8, inclusive, agreed to.
Government amendment No. 1:
In page 10, between lines 8 and 9, to insert the following new subsection:
"(4) Judicial notice shall be taken of the seal of the Office and every document purporting to be an instrument made by, and to be sealed with the seal of, the Office (purporting to be authenticated in accordance with this section) shall be received in evidence and be deemed to be such instru ment without proof unless the contrary is shown.".

This is a tidying up drafting amendment agreed with the office of the parliamentary counsel to the Government. Its purpose is to provide that in proceedings for an offence under the Bill judicial notice shall be taken of the seal of the office. It is a standard legal provision in relation to the official seal of a statutory body and provides that it should be received in evidence and be deemed to be such instrument without proof unless the contrary is shown.

I would agree to the amendment if I understood it. However, I will not ask the Minister of State to explain it.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 9, as amended, agreed to.
Government amendment No. 2:
In page 11, between lines 26 and 27, to insert the following new subsection:
"(3) The Office may perform any of its functions through or by a member of the staff of the Office duly authorised by the Office to act in that behalf.".

This is a tidying up drafting amendment agreed with the office of the parliamentary counsel to the Government. The purpose of this amendment is to provide that members of staff of the office may perform any of the functions of the office when duly authorised by the office to do so. This is a standard legal provision in relation to the performance of functions by a statutory body.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 10, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 11 to 16, inclusive, agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 17 stand part of the Bill."

I wish to make a ritual protest at the inclusion of this section. Similar sections are included in every item of legislation of this sort that is passed. I do not see why Members of the Oireachtas should, by definition, be excluded. Senator O'Toole and others have highlighted this matter on many occasions. All Governments fol low this practice and I wish to repeat what has been said in the past about similar provisions.

Question put and declared carried.
Sections 18 to 24, inclusive, agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 25 stand part of the Bill."

The point I wish to raise is similar to that raised by Senator Manning in respect of section 17. I am delighted that the office shall "not later than 3 months after the end of each financial year prepare and submit to the Minister a report on its activities", but I take issue with the fact that the Minister shall "as soon as may be, cause copies of the report to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas". I am unhappy about the use of the term "as soon as may be". I would much prefer it if a date was provided on which the Minister would be obliged to publish the report. Would it be possible for the Minister of State to include in the section an obligation on future Ministers to publish such reports rather than leaving them on the shelf? In the past, State organisations have submitted reports to Ministers who have refused to publish them for long periods. In other words, these organisations did their job and produced reports, but they were not published. The term "as soon as may be" is somewhat weak. Would the Minister of State be willing to use an alternative wording?

The term "as soon as may be" is standard phraseology. It takes account of the fact that reports might contain recommendations that may have to be discussed by Cabinet or that there are issues which might arise that may not be immediately addressed in the three months immediately following the presentation of the report to the Minister. In practice, such reports generally have been laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. Even though a time limit is not specified, a safeguard exists because it is clearly stated that the Minister shall "cause copies of the report to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas". The matter at issue is one of standard terminology and should, perhaps, be considered in the broader rather than the specific sense.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 26 to 32, inclusive, agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 3 to 5, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 20, subsection (2)(a), line 25, after “product”, to insert “where the marketing imagery lacks clear distinction from the tobacco product”.

These amendments were also tabled on Committee Stage in the Dáil and were discussed at great length. I do not intend to rehearse many of the arguments that were made at that point.

I am particularly concerned with amendment No. 5, the purpose of which is to introduce an element of flexibility. I agree completely with the thrust of section 33 in respect of the prohibition of advertising and so forth. In my opinion, all sides of the House are in agreement on this matter. However, there is an element of rigidity. I wish to discuss the example of a particular brand, namely, Camel shoes. I do not wear these shoes and have never bought a pair. I was not even aware of their existence because the company that makes them appears to be discreet in its marketing. In other words, Camel is not a household name but its shoes are well made. By virtue of the fact, however, that the company carries the same name as Camel tobacco and because there is an association between the two, the Camel brand of shoes may be banned. There are other examples of where this might happen.

All I am seeking in the amendment in question is that an element of flexibility be introduced so that the OTC could consider such matters in a common sense way. For example, if I walk into a shop and see a pair of Camel shoes, this will not, in some subliminal way, release in me a craving for Camel cigarettes which will lead to my purchasing a packet and smoking them. Nor will my seeing such a pair of shoes in some way enhance the image of Camel cigarettes.

The amendment is restrictive in nature and is in keeping with the spirit of the section. I ask the Minister of State to reconsider the position because she will be obliged to return to the Dáil with the Bill to have the amendments accepted here agreed to. In my opinion, a certain level of flexibility is required and I ask her to consider the points I raised.

I support Senator Manning's views on this matter. I understand and agree with the objective the Minister of State is trying to achieve in this section. I can think of at least six examples where the name of a well known brand of cigarettes is used on another product. In such instances it is clearly the intention to use the recognised brand name to sell other products. By doing so, however, the reputation of the brand of cigarettes is also being enhanced. In that context, I understand and support the approach being taken in the legislation in respect of this area. However, as Senator Manning stated, there will be instances where it is not the intention to promote cigarettes.

The wording used by Senator Manning in amendment No. 5 is extremely good. It states: "The Office may upon an application in writing, exempt a brand that includes the name of a tobacco product where it is satisfied that the adver tising of the brand is clearly distinct from the tobacco product and cannot be reasonably be regarded as increasing the sales of tobacco products." In my view, this is a worthy amendment and, because it allows for such tight controls, there is no danger of a brand name being used to enhance the reputation of cigarettes. I accept, however, that we need to ensure that there is no scope allowed for what is termed "stretching the brand". The wording used by the Senator is worthy of consideration before the Minister of State returns to the Dáil with the Bill. The amendment should be accepted.

As Senator Manning stated, this matter was discussed in full with the Minister, Deputy Martin, on Committee Stage in the Dáil. I understand that the example the Senator provided may also have been used at that point. I have been informed that the company in question manufactures children's beach shoes which have on their soles the image of a camel which, when they walk on sand, is imprinted and left behind. The ways and means tobacco companies use to stretch their brands must be counteracted. The section is designed to avoid such brand stretching. The parliamentary counsel and the Attorney General are satisfied that the current provisions are carefully constructed in such a way as to make it clear to the courts what is brand stretching and that there will be no danger to bona fide traders as long as they are not trying to put across subliminal messages. Consequently, I do not propose to accept the amendments.

The Minister of State made my point for me. I am struck by the idea of somebody walking along Tramore beach and finding themselves faced with hundreds of images of little camels. I have seen the camels on the bottom of these shoes and they are about as clear as the Fianna Fáil message on the brown envelopes. It is a very blurred image.

And as effective.

They would not be as effective.

The idea of a child running along in another person's footsteps and suddenly saying "God, I am gasping for a Camel" after seeing such images in the sand is amusing. The Minister of State made my case for me.

If the Minister is satisfied that the people concerned will receive a fair hearing from the OTC and will be able to make their case, I will accept her judgment. All that is common sense. In many laws, one reaches a point of absurdity in the application. This has reached the point of absurdity, but the Minister of State will not change her position and I will not labour the point. However, while I shed no tears for the Camel company, or any other multinational tobacco company – I simply raise this because I see a sense of the rid iculous in it – I hope the OTC will at least apply common sense in its application of the law.

Amendment put and declared lost.
Amendment No. 4 not moved.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 20, between lines 28 and 29, to insert the following new subsection:

"(3) The Office may upon an application in writing, exempt a brand 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 the sales of tobacco products.".

Amendment put and declared lost.
Section 33 agreed to.
Sections 34 to 36, inclusive, agreed to.
Amendment No. 6 not moved.

Amendments Nos. 7 and 8 are related and may be discussed together, by agreement.

I move amendment No. 7:

In page 23, subsection (7), line 12, after "shall", to insert "if the Court so directs".

This amendment relates to section 37(7) and it is worthy of consideration. I have already spoken about the matter on Second Stage. I am fully behind what the Minister of State is trying to achieve in this regard and I believe we all want to make this a good Bill that will last. I query whether it is right that such power should be given to an office without giving an opportunity for the courts to play a part. This amendment proposes to insert "if the Court so directs" and that is also proposed in amendment No. 8. The section states:

If a person, who is registered under this section, is convicted of an offence under this Act. the Office shall. remove the address of the first-mentioned premises from the register, and such person shall not, before the expiration of the period of 3 months.

In this context, we are speaking of family businesses in most cases. A shopkeeper cannot be there all the time and somebody may make a mistake on one occasion by selling to an under age person. The phrase "the office shall" indicates that there is no other option but to take away the licence for a period of three months or 12 months as the case may be. The three months period is the one that concerns me. I believe this will not work as well as we would like.

As a nation, we do not like to close down a business because of one mistake. In the licensed trade, a judge had the power to close a public house if alcoholic drink was sold to an under age person, but that never happened. In the Intoxicating Liquor Bill, which went through the House some 15 months ago, the Minister introduced a new scheme, giving a judge the right to close a premises for any length of time he or she considered appropriate. It could, I suppose, be closed for as little as an hour or two, or for one, two or three days. I understand from the Garda that, since then, judges have regularly closed premises for short periods of time.

A comparable example, to which I referred in the debate last night, is the successful use of the sin bin in rugby football. Formerly, if somebody misbehaved, the only power the referee had was to put that player off the field for the remainder of the match. In the case of a big international match, that ruined the game and, accordingly, a rugby player was very seldom put off for an offence. However, since the introduction of the sin bin, a referee can put a player off for ten minutes, following which the player comes back on to the field and the referee has the option of putting him off again in cases of any further misbehaviour. This example illustrates the point that, by having a less severe penalty, the system can work better.

As the Bill stands, with the wording "shall remove", rather than "may remove", there is no opportunity to temper the punishment as is allowed in the Intoxicating Liquor Act. This has serious implications for the livelihood of a family for whom the sale of cigarettes is an important part of their business. The provision that "the office shall remove" allows no choice in the matter. To allow no option other than closure of the business is an extreme provision. I urge the Minister of State to consider a different wording – I do not propose a specific wording – along the lines of the provisions of the Intoxicating Liquor Act or the example which I gave of what happens on the rugby field. There should be an opportunity to do something other than depriving a family of its livelihood.

Senator Quinn is right. We are going from one extreme to another in a matter which has very serious implications for the country and for people's health. We should not take a simplistic approach to dealing with the situation, which is liable to drive business under the counter or into back street trading. Imposing a sudden drastic change is not the way to sort out the problem. It is better to bring people on side in a more reasonable manner. I agree with Senator Quinn that the word "shall" should be replaced by "may". We should take a more common sense approach to bringing people on side. We need to avoid the spectacle of school kids with fags in their hands and we can succeed if we take the right approach.

It is not good to threaten people or to give the impression that we have very strong powers at our disposal. We are making good progress on dealing with litter and environmental issues generally and we can also succeed on this issue, but not on the basis of threats. Enforcement is a matter for the courts. If we impose excessive rules, people will find a way around them, as we all know from our own experience. The mere fact of putting something down on paper is no guarantee that it will work. By making a reasoned appeal to people and discussing the issue with them, we can achieve much more than by threatening them.

The case Senator Quinn made is very persuasive and I will not repeat his arguments. Essentially, he suggested that if what the amendment proposes does not work, then it will be time to resort to more draconian measures. A person who simply makes a mistake should not be punished disproportionately to the offence. I urge the Minister of State to consider the matter further before Report Stage and before the Bill goes back to the Dáil. The case made by Senator Quinn is very difficult to argue against.

Two issues are involved in this matter. There will be no intention on the part of the health boards and their environmental health officers to pursue anybody for a single offence in terms of not recognising an under age person. Their intention would be to pursue the rogue traders who are constantly selling to under age people. In those circumstances, removal from the register would be a deterrent. The other key words, having pursued those people, would be the first line of that section, which states "is convicted of an offence". The trader, be it a family business or whatever else, would have had to have been convicted before the courts before their name would be removed from the register by the office of tobacco control. It is only then that the specified period of removal would come into effect. The power of conviction does not rest with the office, it rests with the courts and as a result of a conviction the removal from the register would take place. As it is strictly confined to that and because we believe the removal would be a powerful deterrent to the rogue trader, we do not believe it necessary to accept these amendments.

I understand the Minister of State's point about conviction and thank her for making it. I am not sure I can accept the Minister of State's point that it will only happen to the rogue trader – there is nothing to stop someone who has made a mistake from being convicted.

Let us compare this situation to a rugby field where somebody commits a misdemeanour. We have this kind of legislation for selling alcohol to under age people and there has never been a case that I know of where a publican was closed down – because it meant depriving the family who owned that pub and all the employees being out of work. The system did not work and in the Intoxicating Liquor Act, 2000, the sin bin concept was introduced. This gave the judge the right to vary the punishment. He could close a premises down for a day or an evening. He even had the freedom to close down part of the premises. The system was flexible and since then there have been dozens of convictions and dozens of closures – but only for a few days.

I would like to convince the Minister of State to adopt the sin bin concept. In this case the office has no choice, it has to close the premises by taking the licence away. As it is such a big sledge hammer it was not used in the legislation relating to alcohol. Once we took the sledge hammer away and replaced it with a little mallet and said you can give a tap on the fingers the first time and a rap on the knuckles the next time like a schoolteacher, then it began to work. I believe this is worthy of consideration because I want to make it work. I want to make the office say if somebody is convicted we may give them a tap on the fingers the first time, a rap on the knuckles the next time and then we will take the licence away for a full three or 12 months. On that basis the system will work much better. I urge the Minister of State to give some consideration to that issue.

Nobody is saying that the office will close the premises down. The office will remove them from the register that allows them to sell tobacco products. Not even the Senator would accept that if any of his wonderful premises lost that licence – which I am not suggesting they would – it would involve the closure of the whole premises. It would just be their right to sell tobacco products. The bona fide trader who does get caught out would not, I suggest, either be pursued by the courts or be convicted by the courts if it was a once-off offence where somebody got caught on the hop, as it were. That is why we feel that even though the deterrent is there, it would not have the draconian effect the Senator is talking about.

I support what the Minister of State has said. On looking through legislation one often thinks that a sledgehammer is being used to crack a nut, but in this situation my belief is that environmental health officers will visit those premises only as a result of many complaints. The Minister of State makes an important point in regard to losing the sale of cigarettes that it is only a small part of many businesses. It is an important section whereby a major deterrent is encompassed by the Bill, and one which I support.

I do not wish to delay the House on this but I wish to respond to the point made by the Minster of State. I was not thinking of premises like the ones in which I am involved, because it is true that cigarettes are a very minor element of that business. I am thinking of a family business where it is a very major part. I spoke to someone in County Limerick the other day who is really concerned about this matter. He has had a family business for many years that is open for long hours seven days a week and he knows that he cannot be there all the time. If a mistake occurs or if he misjudges and is convicted, then he is in danger of losing his livelihood because cigarettes are a major part of his business. His family business would no longer exist if he closed his premises for three months. If he lost the licence for a day or even three days or a week, it would be a rap on the knuckles. That would be much more likely to happen and I am doing this to support the Minster of State because I want to see this law work.

I do not want to see the sale of tobacco to under age people. It has a much better chance of working if the period of three months could be changed to a period of up to three months. If we could take an amendment at this stage and specify a period of up to three months, I believe it would be very worthy and acceptable change.

I fully support the Bill, as does everybody here, but we are dealing with the question of selling tobacco to under age people. It is unfair to put the onus on a shopkeeper to determine the age of a young person. I put it to the Minister of State and the Department that where both the publican and shopkeeper are concerned there should be ID cards for young people.

We are dealing with amendments Nos. 7 and 8 to section 37 rather than the wider issue to which the Senator is referring.

I beg the Chair's indulgence on this so I will not have to make the point again. It is important that this should be seen as fair law operating with consensus and goodwill. There should be an ID card for young people. Senator Quinn referred to under age selling and it is important that this should stop, but it is unfair to put the onus of determining a buyer's age on the retailer.

Section 44 allows a defence for retailers who have taken all reasonable steps to establish the age of the buyer. I have no doubt that if a younger member of a family is serving in a shop and if the owner could show how they had trained and advised them, even if they got caught it would not lead to their being pursued through the courts for a conviction. It is really a case of having a deterrent for the rogue traders who are generally not the type of family business the Senator is talking about.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 8 not moved.
Question proposed: "That section 37 stand part of the Bill."

This section is really the heart of the Bill. The consequences of this for a great many people will be added expense, especially for smaller retailers. None of us has any sympathy for the tobacco industry itself because it is not an industry with a great ethical reputation. I do not want to make a Second Stage type speech but it has a tradition of suppressing information over a long period. We must recognise that there are smaller people who will be burdened with extra cost and these people are already hard pressed in many ways as it is.

There is one group among all the groups in this trade who have had to face up to the consequences of the legislation. I mention, in particular, the Irish Cigarette Machine Operators Association to whose members I have spoken. They are very conscious of their responsibilities in this matter and have, at their own expense, devised a system to use tokens rather than money in vending machines which they believe will make it more difficult for under age persons to use them. I do not know if they are right, but pay tribute to them for at least trying to anticipate the Bill and get their own house in order before it is passed.

Is it possible for me to submit an amendment on this Stage, which I would withdraw to allow the Minister of State to consider it between now and Report Stage? It would, on page 23, line 16, subsection (a), insert the words "up to" after the words "the period of". The subsection would then provide that the office shall remove the address of the first mentioned premises from the register and the person shall not before the expiration of the period up to three months be eligible to be registered under this section in respect of those premises.

The reason for the amendment is that it would give freedom to the office to remove a person from the register for less than three months. It could still provide for a three month suspension of the licence, but it could also suspend it for a month or a week, or even one day. The point I am making is in the context of the success of the alcohol legislation which did not work when the stick used was a big one. It worked when there was the possibility of a big stick being used. The suggested amendment would achieve exactly what the Minister of State wants.

Senator Quinn has described the amendment he wishes to have considered on Report Stage. I suggest that he should formally submit it to the Seanad office.

Question put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 38 stand part of the Bill."

Section 38(1) states: "It shall be an offence for a person to sell cigarettes by retail other than by a packet containing not less than 20 cigarettes." I ask the Minister of State to clarify the rationale behind this because it effectively means that packets of ten will be excluded from sale. I presume the intention is to prevent purchase by minors who are more likely to purchase smaller packets, but the provisions have implications. If there are no packets of ten, the danger will be that minors will pool their money to buy larger packets and the consequent danger that more smoking will take place. There is also a trade union factor. It is far more labour intensive to produce packets of ten than packets of 20. SIPTU is considerably concerned about the loss of a number of jobs in the trade in the event that the packet of ten is eliminated. On the one hand, there is the possibility of job losses and, on the other, the probability that the measure will not make any difference in terms of young people smoking. It seems, therefore, that it would be best to leave things as they are. While there used to be packets of five and cigarettes were also sold singly – remember the old Woodbines – the argument was never adduced that selling them in that way encouraged people to smoke. If there is a continuing demand for packets of ten, a ready black market will provide them when they are prohibited by legislation.

It is an issue of balance. We are balancing the protection of jobs, which is of major interest, against the wider issues of public health and the public good. The Government's tobacco policy document, Towards a Tobacco Free Society, actually recommended that cigarettes should not be sold in packets of less than 20. Senator Costello is right about the main reason being that price has been shown to be a deterring factor, particularly for young children and younger people starting to smoke. The research has shown that it is an important factor and that children and young people would not start to smoke very early if the price was higher. One is sympathetic to those on lower incomes and older people, but that has to be balanced against the wider interest of preventing young people from starting to smoke, becoming addicted at an early stage and continuing into adult life. It was decided that increasing the minimum number of units that could be bought would raise the price barrier and stop children experimenting at an earlier stage.

I appreciate the point being made which has been made by a number of speakers, particularly in relation to old age pensioners and those who can only afford the packet of ten. However, the point the Minister of State makes is very important. The reason for the provision is that young people are quite easily able to afford the packet of ten. The packet of 20 will not go bad in a further week and the section should stay in the Bill. While I appreciate the points made by others regarding the packet of 20 and the packet of ten, I support what is contained in the Bill.

Has any research been conducted to show that packets of ten are more likely to encourage smoking and that there is a need to ban them? The suggestion that old age pensioners are more likely to buy ten cigarettes is true, as are those who are trying to quit smoking and wish to reduce their intake gradually. The provision might have the opposite effect in that youngsters pooling their money to buy cigarettes would become a peer group of smokers leading to youngsters being drawn into greater consumption because they were involved in the purchase of packets of 20. While the packet of 20 is more expensive, the pooling of resources could easily draw more youngsters to the habit. There is also the obvious matter of job losses. Has the Minister of State had any discussions with SIPTU or the other trade unions in relation to it?

I am not aware that research has shown that packets of 20 are less popular than packets of ten, but it has shown that price is a factor. The bigger the pack, the more expensive it is and the less likely it is to get young people starting to smoke. The Bill is designed to ensure young people will not get together to pool their money to buy ten or 20 cigarettes. The introduction of measures to prevent under age selling is one of the key features of the legislation. This provision is made from the perspective of price being a deterrent and to stop people becoming addicted. This is balanced against the very valid issues to which Senator Costello referred. Jobs are very important, but there is the question of where the balance is to be struck. In this case, we are coming down on the side of public health.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 39 to 42, inclusive, agreed.
Amendments Nos. 9 to 12, inclusive, not moved.
Government amendment No. 13:
In page 28, subsection (5), line 36, after "subsection (3)”, to insert “or (4)”.

This is also the tidying up drafting amendment which was agreed to by the parliamentary counsel. Section 43(5) will now read: "a person who contravenes subsection (3) or (4) shall be guilty of an offence." Section 43(3) of the Bill, as published, had an offence associated with it. A Report Stage amendment in the Dáil split this subsection into two parts, the second part of which became subsection (4). As it now stands, that subsection provides for the registration number on the container, dispenser or vending machine, the prohibition of in-store leaflets and the official ministerial sign in retail premises. The amendment re-establishes the offence associated with the subsection, which had been inadvertently removed by the previous amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 14:

In page 28, lines 38 to 44, to delete subsection (6) and substitute the following:

"(6)(a) Where, in order to comply with the terms of this Act, a person registered under section 37 is required to make alterations to premises (or parts of premises), to include the removal and replacement of existing display cabinets for the sale of tobacco products, the cost of such alterations shall be paid, or met by the person who originally wholly or part paid for the installation of the display cabinets.

(b) The payment of monies necessary under paragraph (a) shall not be deemed to be sponsorship for the purposes of this Act.

(c) In order to facilitate any alterations to premises required as a consequence of this Act, no order will be made by the Minister under section 1(2) in respect of the provisions of this section, until the expiry of 180 days from the date of the enactment of this Act.”.

I wish to raise the question of the imbalance of cost which will fall to the smaller person. A larger burden of cost should be placed upon the sponsoring companies. I will not push the amendment. I simply want to draw attention to this imbalance.

I understand the intention behind the amendment. The concern of many of the people involved is that there will be a cost involved in adapting to the new legislation. I hope the legislation will give retailers time to adapt. This may be somewhere else in the Bill, but I am not aware that it is. There will be a cost involved in complying with the terms of the legislation, and I know that many smaller traders are concerned about this, as well as the timeframe within which they can make the necessary changes in order to comply with the law. I hope the Minister has taken this into account.

We understand that the tobacco industry—

Is it possible that the Minister could give an incentive for retailers to implement the necessary changes in structure? The savings that will be made in other sectors as a consequence of this Bill will be enormous and we should be seen to give people an incentive to co-operate fully with the legislation. There is no reason why a tax benefit or a VAT reduction could not be introduced over a period of time. I am not saying that we should not be doing it, but we give it to sportspeople and sporting organisations. The retailers will be the watchdogs for this legislation and we should show our appreciation by offering them incentives.

There is a concern within the retail sector that they will incur extra costs as a result of this legislation. There should be a period of time allowing for the replacement of display units. This amendment seeks the provision of a period of six months during which the retailers can comply with the new legislation. It does not call for any financial support or encouragement. Does the Minister propose to allow any leeway for retailers to facilitate compliance?

I understand that tobacco companies have made arrangements with individual retailers regarding the provision of display units. For this reason, it is not appropriate to discuss the provision of incentives; arrangement has already been made at local level. It is the intention of the Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Micheál Martin, to give retailers a reasonable amount of time after the enactment of the legislation to comply with it. I have no doubt that there are many other types of company, be they chocolate producers or otherwise, who will happily step in to take over the advertising space in shops.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 43, as amended, agreed to.
Section 44 agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 45 stand part of the Bill."

It is a well established fact that the sale of tobacco to under age people has been going on for some time. It is expected that this Bill will deal with this issue. It is unfair to expect shopkeepers and publicans to know the age of their customers. The use of identity cards has been mentioned, as has the Intoxicating Liquor Act, 1988. The latter is 14 years old and much has happened since then. I do not think there would be any objection to the introduction of an official identity card, whatever the format, to determine the age of an individual. It is unfair to place the onus of determining the age of a customer on the retailer. We all know this. I do not think it is too much to ask that identity cards be made readily available to members of the public at all times.

Senator Callanan knows that the defence of the retailer is written into this Bill. Retailers will be within their rights to request identity cards from customers. It is not so much the Bill that the Senator is talking about as the wider issue of identification and the difficulties that come with it. As mentioned in this House last night, with "Pop Stars" and the way in which young people today are dressing, how can one know how old someone is?

There has been much discussion of the use of age cards, particularly in relation to the sale of alcohol and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy O'Donoghue, is of the attitude that one should not give someone an identity card in order to allow them to drink alcohol. Personally, I feel that this is an issue that should be looked at again, within the context of having a standard identity card for students and young people, simply for the purpose of proving age. This is a wider issue and not one which should concern us today.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 46 to 52, inclusive, agreed to.
Amendment No. 15 not moved.
Section 53 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.