I thank the Senators for beginning this Bill in the Seanad. It is appropriate, given that we have just finished another public health Bill which will protect our citizens, particularly our children, from malignant melanoma, which, as Senator Crown said, is highly preventable. The Bill we are now discussing is another that will lead to a great reduction in the incidence of cancers in this country, particularly lung cancer, which in the vast bulk of cases is entirely preventable.
I will begin with a few quotes to give a sense of what we are dealing with here. "We don't believe it's ever been established that smoking is the cause of disease," "I'm unclear in my own mind whether anyone dies of cigarette smoking related diseases," and "I do not believe that nicotine is addictive." These statements were made, under oath, by the vice president of the Tobacco Institute, Murray Walker, the chairman of Philip Morris, Geoffrey Bible, and the chief executive of Brown and Williamson, Thomas Sandefur, as recently as 1994 and 1998.
The tobacco industry has a dark track record of hiding the truth to protect its profits. Do not expect it to change now. Its internal documents clearly show its own scientists were warning that smoking causes cancer since the early 1950s and that smoking is addictive since the early 1960s. For five decades, the industry deliberately concealed these facts in an attempt to deceive Governments and the public of the dangers of smoking. Now, it is using bogus arguments about illicit trade to terrify responsible retailers into opposing this legislation. I believe its arguments today remain as bogus and as dishonest as they have been for the past five decades.
The consequence of this legislation is clear. It will protect our children from marketing gimmicks that trap them into a killer addiction. If the tobacco industry did not get our children addicted, the industry would disappear within a generation. We all know that to be true and so does the industry. To replace the smokers who quit and, sadly, those who die, the tobacco industry needs to recruit 50 new smokers in Ireland every day just to maintain smoking rates at their current level. Given that 78% of smokers in a survey said they started smoking under the age of 18, it is clear that our children are targeted to replace those customers who die or quit.
Research has shown that, when consuming cigarettes from the standardised packs which we intend to introduce, smokers are 66% more likely to think their cigarettes are of poorer quality, are 70% more likely to say they found them less satisfying and are 81% more likely to have thought about quitting at least once a day and rate quitting as a higher priority in their lives. This Bill will regulate the appearance of tobacco packaging and products. The aim is to make all tobacco packs look less attractive to consumers, to make health warnings more prominent and to prevent packaging from misleading consumers, particularly children, about the harmful effects of tobacco. The Bill will also implement some aspects of the newly adopted tobacco products directive of the European Union and it will give effect to Ireland's obligations under the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
What is standardised packaging? It means that all forms of branding - trademarks, logos, colours and graphics - would be removed from tobacco packs. The brand and variant names would be presented in a uniform typeface for all brands, and the packs would all be in one plain, neutral colour.
I will now take the House through the Bill section by section to clarify its provisions. The Bill is divided into four parts. The first part of the Bill deals with preliminary and general provisions and covers sections 1 to 6. Section 1 of the Bill makes standard provisions setting out the Short Title of the Bill, the collective citation for the Public Health (Tobacco) Acts and arrangements for its commencement.
Section 2 deals with the interpretation of the Bill and defines the meanings of some of the terms used for the purposes of the Bill. Section 3 deals with regulations, allowing the Minister for Health to make regulations to bring the legislation into operation. Section 4 is a standard provision dealing with expenses.
Section 5 clarifies that nothing in the Bill operates to prohibit the registration of a trademark, or will be grounds for the revocation of the registration of a trademark. It also makes clear that nothing in the Bill will affect the law in regard to tax stamps.
Section 6 makes transitional provisions which will allow retailers and manufacturers time to comply with the new measures. Current packets may be manufactured until May 2016, and there will then be a one-year period to sell outstanding stocks. Non-compliant retail packaging may not be manufactured from May 2016 and may not be sold after May 2017.
Part 2 of the Bill deals with the retail packaging and presentation of tobacco products and covers sections 7 to 14. Section 7 sets out the requirements for the retail packaging of cigarette packets. The Bill specifies that cigarette packets must be a prescribed matt colour on the outside and inside, not have any decorative features, such as ridges or embossing, or coloured adhesives, and may not have any marks or trademarks other than a barcode or similar identification mark. Packets may not have anything inserted or affixed to them, apart from items prescribed by law. The colour and decorative feature provisions will not apply to the health warnings that must be printed on packaging or to other items prescribed by law.
The Bill allows for the brand or company or business name and a variant name to be printed on the packet, but regulations will set the font type, size, colour and positioning of these. The wrapper must be transparent, not coloured, and must not have any decorative features, marks or trademarks, or affixed items apart from those provided for by law. It may have a tear-strip, which will be prescribed for in regulations. These provisions will apply to retail packaging of all cigarettes intended for retail sale in the State.
This section also transposes provisions of the 2014 EU tobacco products directive which must be applied to those products for sale in the EU: namely, the cigarette packet must be cuboid in shape, although it may have rounded or bevelled edges; it must be made of carton or soft material; and may only have a flip-top or shoulder box hinged lid.
Section 8 lays down the requirements for the appearance of cigarettes. These must be white, with a white or imitation cork tip. They may have a brand or business or company name and a variant name printed on them, but in accordance with regulations which will set the colour, font, size, positioning and appearance. It will be an offence to manufacture, import or sell non-compliant cigarettes. These provisions will apply to all cigarettes intended for retail sale in the State.
Section 9 provides the specifications for the appearance of roll-your-own tobacco packets. These are similar to the requirements for retail packaging of cigarettes. These provisions will apply to retail packaging of all roll-your-own products intended for retail sale in the State.
This section differs from section 7, however, in that it allows a unit package of roll-your-own tobacco to be either cuboid in shape - similar to a cigarette packet - or cylindrical, or in the form of a pouch. As before, these provisions were included as they transpose parts of the 2014 EU tobacco products directive and, therefore, must be applied to packaging of all cigarettes for sale in the EU.
This section also sets out how the brand or business or company name and variant name is to be printed on different-shaped packs. They must be printed in a colour, font and size to be laid out in regulations.
Section 10 provides specifications for the retail packaging of tobacco products other than roll-your-own tobacco and cigarettes - for example, pipe tobacco and cigars. It contains the same features as sections 7 and 9 pertaining to colour, decorative features and so on, and allows for cuboid and other shaped packets.
Section 11 deals with the linings of unit packets of tobacco products and provides that, where a lining is present, it shall be of a prescribed colour and material. Section 12 provides that the tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide content shall not be printed on any form of retail packaging of tobacco products. As this is, again, transposing part of the 2014 EU tobacco products directive, it applies to all tobacco products for sale in the EU.
Section 13 deals with the general appearance of tobacco products and, again, transposes in part the 2014 EU tobacco products directive. As before, therefore, it must be applied to the packaging of all cigarettes for sale in the EU.
It is an offence to manufacture, import or sell tobacco products that do not comply with section 13.
Section 14 prohibits sound effects and sense features that alter appearance after sale.
The third Part of the Bill sets out the offences, proceedings and penalties and covers sections 15 to 19, inclusive. Section 15 sets out the offences under the legislation. It will be an offence to package, manufacture, import or sell tobacco products that do not comply with section 7 or sections 9 to 14, inclusive. However, the Bill provides for a defence if a person can show the he or she made all reasonable efforts to comply with the legislation.
Under section 16 there are three types of penalties for offences under the Act. For a first offence a person may be liable to a class B fine or six months imprisonment or both. For subsequent offences a person may be liable for a class A fine or 12 months imprisonment or both. On conviction on indictment a person may receive a fine, or eight years imprisonment or both. A person convicted of an offence may also be ordered to cover prosecution costs and expenses.
Section 17 sets out provisions relating to offences committed by bodies corporate and their directors, managers or officers. Section 18 states that proceedings under the Act may be brought and prosecuted by the Health Service Executive.
Section 19 sets out provisions relating to evidence brought before proceedings. It states that tobacco products or packaging bearing the name or trademark of an importer or manufacturer will be used as evidence that the products were manufactured or imported or packaged by that person unless the contrary is proved.
Part 4 of the Bill deals with miscellaneous matters. Section 20 amends section 5A of the Public Health (Tobacco) Acts. The legislation will now provide that if a person registered to sell tobacco under section 37 of the Public Health (Tobacco) Acts is found guilty of an offensive under the current legislation he or she may be removed from the register for a specified period.
Section 21 amends section 37 of the Public Health (Tobacco) Acts so that offences committed under the current legislation will be taken into account when a person applies to register to sell tobacco products.
Section 22 amends section 48 of the Public Health (Tobacco) Acts, as amended. Section 48 will now provide the Health Service Executive with the necessary powers to enforce the current legislation.
This is a killer product. It kills some 5,200 Irish citizens and 700,000 European citizens every year. It will kill one in two of the children seduced by its packaging and gimmicks into taking up the killer habit. We cannot, must not and will not allow this to happen. I commend the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill 2014 to the House.