Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill 2014: Committee and Remaining Stages

Sections 1 to 5, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 6

Amendment No. 1 is in the name of Senator van Turnhout. Amendments Nos. 1 to 5, inclusive, are related. Amendment No. 2 is a physical alternative to amendment No. 1. Amendment No. 5 is a physical alternative to amendment No. 4. Amendments Nos. 1 to 5, inclusive, may be discussed together by agreement of the House. Is that agreed? Agreed.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 7, line 27, to delete "20 May 2017" and substitute "20 July 2016".

When I looked at the Bill, the area that I felt we could seek to change would be in relation to the period for the changeover or, as it is called in the retail trade, the "wash through" period.

When this legislation was introduced in Australia the period was two months. I have proposed a period of three months because the tobacco industry in Australia argued for a period of 12 to 18 months but in effect the transition was easily managed within two months. The only complaints were from some retailers who claimed that manufacturers were refusing to take back non-compliant products that had not been sold. I am concerned about the length of the lead-in time allowed. If we are going to introduce the legislation, let us have a short period of transition. I did not bring the date forward to begin with because I realise we must fulfil certain EU obligations but once the legislation is introduced it should be implemented speedily.

I have no objection to this amendment, my views would be in accord with it. However, we operate under certain restrictions in respect of the EU directive, which is immutable. I agree with the Senator on the wash-out period. We are currently examining that issue. I cannot accept the amendment because if I do so I may find myself in conflict with the law. I apologise for that but if I can do it even quicker I will do so. In other words, I am exploring the possibility of a parallel wash-out with the EU directive. As somebody noted, May 2016 has a nice ring in terms of centenaries and, given the importance of this issue for our children, it would be nice to think we could do it in 2016.

I thank the Minister for his reply. I take it he accepts in principle that it is an overly lengthy period and he has agreed to consider the matter further. I will take him at his word and withdraw the amendment. Given that Senator MacSharry tabled a similar amendment, I simply want our concerns to be noted.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments Nos. 2 to 5, inclusive, not moved.
Section 6 agreed to.
SECTION 7

Amendments Nos. 6, 15, 19, 25, 26 and 27 are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 8, between lines 13 and 14, to insert the following:

“(g) not contain any item incorporated into the packaging other than as provided for by law.”.

We live in a technological age and marketing strategies are growing ever more sophisticated, including the use of electronically taggable devices. Amendment No. 6 would prevent tobacco companies from introducing any non-visible element of packaging which could allow them to communicate with their customers by any means. We are particularly concerned about the possibility of using technologies such as near field communication tags. The Minister has acknowledged that the tobacco industry uses techniques such as raffles to entice tobacco addicts to their brands. This amendment would close off other channels through which they might otherwise engage with their customers. I urge him to accept the amendment because this technology is moving quite quickly.

Amendment No. 15 would have the same effect for tobacco pouches and self-roll tobacco products. Amendment No. 19 has the same effect for other tobacco products.

Amendments Nos. 25 to 27, inclusive, are allied. I am urging the Minister to accept this attempt to include specific, detailed and scientifically spelled-out warnings with the package. Other than bluntly stating that cigarettes can cause gangrene or cancer, the warnings would go into the detail of contents and ingredients. The measure would force companies to list all the potentially toxic, and especially the potentially carcinogenic, compounds which are found both in cigarettes and other tobacco products. They would also have to mention if they were mutogenic, which means that standardised biochemical assays would show that genetic changes can be caused. In addition, they would have to mention that they are reprotoxic, which means they have been shown to cause abnormalities in reproductive cells.

I believe this would be a powerful educational opportunity and I urge the Minister to put these warnings in packaging for cigarettes, tobacco pouches, as specified in the Bill, and for other tobacco products about which I will elaborate in other amendments.

I wish to second Senator Crown's amendment. He is a leading expert in the field and we are all aware of his knowledge, commitment and support for the Minister in strengthening the legislation. In that spirit, it is a pleasure for me to second Senator Crown's amendment.

I thank Senators for their amendments and particularly the spirit in which they have been submitted. I utterly accept what is being attempted here. While one cannot make the product safer, one can certainly provide more advice concerning its use. Any doctor prescribing, and any patient using, medication will be well used to the fact that there is an insert with the tablets that they can read. However, I would like to point out a few things about this matter. Each pack will have a general warning which will state either "Smoking kills. Quit now" or, simply, "Smoking kills". In addition, each pack should carry an information message stating "Tobacco smoke contains over 70 substances known to cause cancer".

As Senators are aware, a pictorial or combined warning will also cover 65% of the front and back of cigarette packets. These are simple but effective methods of visibly getting the message across to smokers and non-smokers alike. The inclusion of additional information on a sheet may not, in my view, be as effective in achieving the same. Indeed, it is likely that the consumer may open the pack - let us call a spade a spade - and discard the sheet immediately on the side of the street. This would add to the litter caused by cigarette packs, which astonishingly enough represents 53% of all litter. Furthermore, the smoker would quickly become desensitised or immune to a long list of ingredients and additives.

I acknowledge that in drafting these amendments, the Senator's aim is to make information about the toxic ingredients contained in cigarettes and other tobacco products available to the public. The tobacco products directive will make it mandatory for manufacturers of tobacco products to submit a list of ingredients contained in their products. This list, and details of the remission levels, are to be submitted to a State authority. The list is to be accompanied with information as to why these ingredients were included. Toxicological data regarding the ingredients are also to be submitted, referring in particular to their effects on the health of consumers. Member states are then obliged to make this information available to the public on a website.

The new proposed warnings and the mandatory obligations regarding reporting ingredients, are important initiatives in educating the public about tobacco. These, together with school-based education programmes and social marketing campaigns, will educate our young people in particular about the harmful effects of tobacco.

I cannot accept the amendments at the moment. It is not that I do not agree with the principle involved, but I am concerned that we may run into trouble concerning the whole issue of the legal challenges and the proportionality issue. Rather than rejecting the amendments out of hand, if Senators are prepared to withdraw them, and having had further time to investigate them, I will address them again in the Dáil, if that is agreeable. I cannot accept them at the moment, however, as I believe it might cause problems for us. I would be grateful if Senator Crown could withdraw the amendment, in which case I will give an undertaking to address this matter comprehensively during the Bill's passage through the Dáil Chamber.

I am trying to get clarification on what exactly that means. Does that mean the Minister is making a commitment to table the amendments in the Dáil?

If I table them in my name but do not take them, that will be bizarre. What I am saying is that I will address the issue comprehensively. They can easily be tabled again by Members of the Dáil if they so wish. What I am saying is that I cannot accept them at the moment. Rather than have a vote on it, I would prefer to have more time to consider how we might be able to justify doing it. I have no problem with additional information being there because as I told the Senator before, as a practising GP, I used to insist that those with diabetes put a little cardboard note I had printed in their cigarette packs. It had a simple message on it that smoking plus diabetes equals amputation just to remind them every time they took out fag, they were imperilling their foot. Some people might read the long list the Senator has suggested once but thereafter, I do not think it would have any net effect.

However, if there is no problem from a legal point of view or if there is no imperilling of our situation vis-à-vis the inevitable challenge to our standardised packaging, I would not necessarily have a problem with it at all but I need further time to investigate it. I am not in a position to give the Senator an undertaking to do it now. Like the last point, if I have not fully investigated it, I have to go back, otherwise I will have committed myself legally to something which will be problematic from a legal point of view. I am trying to make myself clear and I hope I am getting the message across.

Please forgive my relative unfamiliarity with some of the more arcane aspects of parliamentary procedure but is there a mechanism where we can delay the vote on this for a few minutes while I take some advice on it? I can move on to a different amendment.

By way of clarification, it is in order for the Senator to withdraw an amendment and resubmit it on Report Stage. However, we would have to agree not to take Report Stage today in order for the Senator to do that because the order of the House is that Committee and Remaining Stages be taken today.

Is it in any way compromising the Minister's ability to address this issue later if we press it today and it is defeated - if he thinks it is a good idea and with further advice has the opportunity to amend the Bill accordingly in the Dáil?

If the Senator presses the amendment to a vote and it is defeated, it cannot be resubmitted on Report Stage. The order of today is that Committee and Remaining Stages be taken today. It is very much up to the Leader but if we were to take only Committee Stage today and put Report Stage back to another day, that may facilitate the Senator and the Minister being able to communicate with each other in order to progress this matter. Other than that, the Senator will have to push it to a vote.

I would prefer not to delay the passage of the Bill. If it is the Minister's and the Leader's intention that Report Stage be taken today, I do not wish to delay that process, close as we are to the summer break. Being practical about it, I do not believe the amendments will ultimately be accepted. If they are going to be thrashed out and discussed, it will be today or never. I am not trying to put the Minister in an embarrassing position but if he cannot tell me that there is a mechanism where he can give me a commitment that these specific amendments will be debated in the Dáil, I will have to press them today.

I am absolutely happy to do that.

The Minister mentioned a website that would contain a list of appalling ingredients in the product we seek to control. Listening to the dialogue between two members of the medical profession, could we include something in an amendment on Report Stage that if concerned about smoking, people could look up stopsmoking.com - a website which would give them all the information that would not fit on the sheet the Minister fears some people would throw away when they purchase a packet of cigarettes? A reference to the website would be very valuable because we know information would be used by cigarette companies in all sorts of way to attract new people.

We should provide a source of information and research, for example, stopsmoking.com, to inform people of all the toxic ingredients of tobacco and the appalling damage the product can do. This may be a way around the predicament that the Minister and Senator Crown, two members of the medical profession, have been discussing.

I was about to suggest that the Leader consider having a short break - even for ten minutes - between Committee Stage and Report Stage. I do not understand the reason that would not be allowed.

The Minister has given a commitment to Senator Crown.

I made the suggestion on the basis that Senator Crown had asked for some time. We could have a break between Committee Stage and Report Stage. The House will usually suspend for ten or 15 minutes between Stages if a Senator is resubmitting a Committee Stage amendment on Report Stage. A short break would allow us to address this matter in one day.

In fairness to everyone involved, I do not believe the Minister will be able to change his position in 15 minutes.

Senator Crown would have time to consider the issue.

I beg the indulgence of my more experienced parliamentary colleagues. If we proceed according to the order of the day, will the group of amendments be agreed in its entirety?

While the Minister addressed the issue of specific warnings, other issues also arise, including the prohibition of non-classical electronic advertising in communication inserts in packaging. We should vote on this issue today.

I will put the amendments in sequence, beginning with amendment No. 6. Is Senator Crown pressing or withdrawing amendment No. 6?

Broadly-speaking, two issues arise. First, I take on board the Minister's point that he will give some thought to the issue of including additional warnings. Is he prepared to agree at this stage to the amendments which prohibit our enemy from placing sophisticated electronic marketing devices in their death-causing products?

We are discussing amendment No. 6. The Minister may respond when we reach the other amendments.

My question relates to amendment No. 6.

In fairness to Senator Crown, the Minister did not respond specifically to the amendment. I ask him to advise the House of his position on it.

He indicated he would bring the matter to the Dáil.

He addressed the matters raised in subsequent amendments in this group.

Do the Senators wish to further discuss amendments Nos. 6, 15, 19 and 25 to 27, inclusive, before I put the question?

Without wishing to show all my cards in this game of poker, I am prepared to compromise with the Minister on the issue of additional warnings by giving him time to act. That is the first issue but a second, separate issue also arises. As such, the group may be a little too comprehensive. The second issue is the prohibition of a marketing device which the authors of the Bill, in good faith, may not have considered. I would never have considered this possibility if it had not been for the presence of a very electronically literate person in my office, Shane Conneely. This type of marketing strategy is being used in other areas, such as the entertainment world, and could be easily adapted for our enemies in the tobacco industry. For this reason, it requires a separate response from the Minister. If horses are being traded, perhaps he will tell me which one we are trading in this amendment. I am prepared to accept his undertaking to study the issue of placing additional warnings before the Bill is introduced in the Dáil. While I do not wish to obstruct the Bill, the second issue I raise has not been thrashed out.

This is the forum for thrashing it out. Does the Minister have anything to add on this group of amendments?

Only that I do not see any reference to electronic advertising in amendment No. 6. Is Senator Crown referring to an additional amendment which deals specifically with electronic advertising on cigarettes? As far as I can see, it is not mentioned in these group of amendments.

I thank the Minister and Acting Chairman for allowing me to clarify this technical point. There are microchip technologies that can be inserted into cigarette packaging which enable communication to occur-----

To clarify, there is no time restriction on Senator Crown or any other Member in reference to these amendments. This is the forum to deal with these issues.

I thank the Acting Chairman. This amendment is dealing with a very specific and technical issue. There are technologies analogous to those employed in the reading of barcodes which, using near-field communications, make it possible for central vendors to establish a degree of contact, as a marketing device, with people who have purchased cigarettes from them. This amendment seeks to prohibit the use of this or any newly developed technologies for such purposes. We can be certain that new technologies will be developed and it makes sense to account for that now rather than having to amend the Bill at a future date. The amendment is wholly in keeping with the spirit of the Minister's legislation and the European regulation.

We spoke on Second Stage about the resources available to the tobacco industry and the type of plotting and planning in which it engages. As Senator Crown has highlighted, the industry is certain to devise new ways of marketing, branding and promoting its products which we cannot foresee. My understanding is that the intention of the amendment is to set the parameters in this regard. That is why I asked if we could hear more about it. I do not know, for instance, whether it might have unintended consequences.

The issues Senator Crown has outlined in explaining the rationale for this amendment merit serious consideration. We are dealing with some of the most dangerous business people on the planet, who are engaged in manufacturing and marketing products that kill people. This Bill is revolutionary and will save lives. However, no more than the criminals on the streets, the tobacco industry is always three or four steps ahead of us. If we can do anything to ensure we get a step or two closer to its cynical, devious ploys, we should do so. I have mentioned in this House, while wearing my retailer hat, that I have seen at first hand some of the sneaky schemes cigarette companies use to promote their products, like introducing packs of 23 at under €10 to give the impression of offering people value for money. The latest scheme I have seen is the retailing of pouches of rolled tobaccos at under €5, designed to appeal to smokers who are already strapped for cash. The message is that one can purchase a tobacco product for under a fiver.

This is a war for the health of the current and future generations. We have a responsibility to do everything we can to impede and intercept the tobacco manufacturers' sneaky and covert marketing ploys. I appeal to the Minister in that context to give consideration to Senator Crown's proposal. I commend the member of staff in the Senator's office who spotted this potential loophole.

I have listened carefully to what has been said and agree wholeheartedly with the point Senator Crown is making. I wonder, however, whether the provisions in section 7, particularly subsections (1)(f) and (11), make the amendment unnecessary. They seem to me to cover the exact point Senator Crown is making.

Senator Gilroy has hit the nail on the head there. Senator Crown's amendment seeks to insert, "not contain any item incorporated into the packaging other than as provided for by law." Section 7(8) states that the packet shall not contain any inserted items or affixed items other than as provided for by law. It is already covered off, but I accept that people are alert. However, it is already covered so it is an unnecessary amendment, with respect.

Does Senator Crown wish to come back in?

That relates to a wrapper.

Please, colleagues. Does Senator Crown wish to come back in on amendment No. 6?

I still think there is ambiguity and I will, in isolation, be pressing amendment No. 6.

Section 7(8) deals with a wrapper.

Section 7(1)(f) refers to inserted items.

It could not be more specific. With respect to the Senator, I point out it is more comprehensive than his amendment.

It is a question of bringing subsection (11) on to it as well.

Amendment put:
The Committee divided: Tá, 17; Níl, 23.

  • Barrett, Sean D.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Crown, John.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • Healy Eames, Fidelma.
  • Heffernan, James.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Mooney, Paschal.
  • Mullen, Rónán.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Mary Ann.
  • Ó Murchú, Labhrás.
  • Power, Averil.
  • Quinn, Feargal.
  • Reilly, Kathryn.
  • Walsh, Jim.
  • Wilson, Diarmuid.

Níl

  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Brennan, Terry.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Coghlan, Eamonn.
  • Coghlan, Paul.
  • Comiskey, Michael.
  • Conway, Martin.
  • Cummins, Maurice.
  • Gilroy, John.
  • Hayden, Aideen.
  • Higgins, Lorraine.
  • Keane, Cáit.
  • Kelly, John.
  • Landy, Denis.
  • Moloney, Marie.
  • Moran, Mary.
  • Mullins, Michael.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noone, Catherine.
  • O'Donnell, Marie-Louise.
  • O'Keeffe, Susan.
  • O'Neill, Pat.
  • van Turnhout, Jillian.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Sean D. Barrett and John Crown; Níl, Senators Paul Coghlan and Aideen Hayden.
Amendment declared lost.

Amendments Nos. 7, 11, 16, 17, 20 and 21 are related and may be discussed together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

I move amendment No. 7:

In page 8, line 18, to delete “law.” and substitute the following:

“law;

(d) the text ‘National Smokers Quitline 1800 201 203 - www.quit.ie’.”.

I do not wish to delay the House and the Minister knows our motivation on this. The amendment seeks to include the quit-line details. The experience of this in Australia is that the calls to the line in that country increased by nearly 80%. By way of assistance to people such as me, who successfully gave up smoking, this is something we can and ought to do. I hope the Minister can accept it.

There is only a technical issue here. I agree with the Senator and it will be done. These amendments relate to the inclusion of a quit-line number and website address on packs of tobacco products. This will be put in place. The new tobacco directive sets out mandatory provision for member states to include such information on the graphic warnings.

The new warnings are being developed at EU level and will be transposed into regulations once finalised. It will happen but technically I cannot accept the Senator's amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments Nos. 8,9,12,14,18 and 22 are related and may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 8, line 20, after “name” where it thirdly occurs to insert “subject to a character limit of 15”.

This is to limit the number of characters describing the contents so that they are not made more attractive by some kind of sexy name. There are examples from Australia of long-winded names of particular brands which research showed enhanced the marketability of the brand.

I have no issue in principle with this amendment. The aim is to limit the number of characters permitted per tobacco brand or variant name and to be prescriptive about the use of upper and lower case letters. The Bill provides that the brand and variant names placed on tobacco packaging are to be printed in accordance with regulations. These regulations will provide for the manner in which the name is printed on the pack and include the colour, font type, size, positioning and appearance of such a name. As the regulatory powers in the Bill already allow for the Minister to prescribe these matters I do not propose to accept the amendments as they are not necessary.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 9 not moved.

I move amendment No. 10:

In page 8, line 35, after “shape” to insert the following:

“being not more and not less than a height of 8.5 centimetres, a width of 5.5 centimetres and a depth of 2 centimetres”.

The Minister has dealt with this issue by saying that he does have these powers and intends to use them. I will take him at his word on that.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 11 not moved.

I move amendment No. 12:

In page 9, line 22, after “name” to insert “, and also whether the name shall be in uppercase, lowercase, or any mix thereof”.

There are a few amendments which we believe make it easier for the Minister to tighten up the regulation of the appearance of the lettering on the products and on the packaging and other products as shall be defined. This would enable the Minister to ensure that the brand name would be all in capital letters as it is in Australia. We are not certain that the current wording would do that.

As it stands the Minister can define the appearance of the brand name but our worry is that not being explicit about whether it is upper or lower case leaves open the possibility that it could be challenged later. It is well known that putting everything in capital letters makes it less legible than upper and lower case text.

I covered that when responding to Senator MacSharry’s amendment. The regulatory powers in the Bill already allow for these matters to be prescribed by the Minister so I do not propose to accept these amendments as they are not necessary. The regulations would provide for the manner in which the name is printed on the pack and include colour, font type, size, positioning and appearance of such a name.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 7 agreed to.
SECTION 8

I move amendment No. 13:

In page 10, to delete lines 7 and 8 and substitute the following:

"(a) an alpha-numeric code as prescribed by the Minister.".

I am happy to withdraw this amendment on the basis of the Minister's indication that he has these powers and intends to use them.

I thank the Senator.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 14 not moved.
Section 8 agreed to.
SECTION 9

I move amendment No. 15:

In page 10, between lines 31 and 32, to insert the following:

"(g) not contain any item incorporated into the packaging other than as provided for by law.".

I wish to clarify - I am not sure I made it clear when we discussed this in another context and I said I did not intend to press this amendment - that the regulation as it stands will ban inserts and anything on the packaging, but it will not actually ban something that is embedded in the packaging. We believe this leaves a legal vulnerability. I ask the Minister to address this aspect of the matter when he brings the Bill through the Dáil.

It is specifically stated in another section of the Bill that the bar code cannot be interfered with for any purpose, such as electronic messaging, etc. That applies to the pack in general, by inference. I believe it is already covered off. I will be happy to discuss the matter further with the Senator. If we can find a way of improving this provision, we will certainly look at it. Section 7(5) provides that "a bar-code or other similar identification mark may be printed once on a cigarette packet in such form and manner as may be prescribed by the Minister, including the colour, dimensions, specifications and positioning of such bar-code or mark, provided that the bar-code or mark does not convey any information to the consumer (including any information conveyed by means of electronic communication)".

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments Nos. 16 to 22, inclusive, not moved.
Section 9 agreed to.
SECTION 10
Question proposed: "That section 10 stand part of the Bill."

I apologise for arriving late. I was involved in something else. I have no difficulty in accepting the Minister's absolute bona fides on this important legislation. I commend him on it. However, I have some concerns about his decision to leave certain issues to the discretion of the Minister of the day. I do not doubt the Minister is approaching this matter in the interests of consumers. I hope this measure will deter people from smoking and encourage them to quit. As I said on Second Stage, this evil industry will do its damnedest to encourage future Ministers to make changes. It will look for any possible amelioration in the position, from their perspective, that will benefit it in the sale of cigarettes. I am worried that future Ministers might not have the same degree of commitment to the thrust of what the Minister, Deputy Reilly, is doing. My colleague said this could lead to challenges but my concern - leaving that aside - is that by leaving this open to ministerial discretion and thereby giving options to future Ministers, the cigarette companies might be encouraged to influence future office holders to make changes. As I understand it, a change to the statutory instrument will be all that will be required. The Minister might correct me in that regard. In that context, it worries me that these Houses have no proper record of diligence in debating or monitoring statutory instruments. I would be far happier to see the Oireachtas determining exactly what should be prescribed in legislation. I suggest that the Minister, Deputy Reilly, is the best person to do that in light of his commitment to this issue. We should make provisions that reflect the best interests, purposes and objectives behind this Bill.

Senator Walsh's comments should be heeded. I wish to return briefly to the previous discussion on Senator Crown's amendment. It was not successful but he is quite right. I recall a situation when at one stage when one got off a train, no matter what mobile phone one had, one got a picture from Iarnród Éireann. One got off a train at Heuston Station and one's phone automatically ticked and there was a new text message. It does happen. That is an example of how it happens.

I am reassured by the Minister's commitment under the section that the issue would addressed. The legislation will always be a work in progress. We will have lots more legislation as various companies come up with new tricks. A sinister case I encountered approximately 12 months ago related to One4all An Post vouchers. They were being offered to staff in shops. If a regular customer came in and did not order his or her packet of cigarettes, they were reminded by the shop assistant. If that happened once a week in every shop in Ireland one is talking about tens of thousands of extra packets of cigarettes sold. The legislation is a work in progress. It is an ongoing war, one we must win. I am comforted by the fact that we have a Minister for Health who is totally dedicated to dealing with the problem. I share his concerns that in future we might have a Minister who is a smoker, who would inevitably be somewhat compromised in dealing with this ongoing war.

The legislation is most comprehensive. There must be some latitude for the Department and the Minister. No matter what Minister is in office, he or she can only introduce regulation that is in keeping with the terms of the legislation and the purpose of the legislation is to help to reduce the number of people smoking and also to remove all the marketing ploys that are available to the tobacco industry. One of the points about regulation is that when a problem arises, it allows the Minister to introduce regulation, provided it comes within the terms of the legislation, to make it more difficult for tobacco companies to avoid compliance. The Minister must have some room for manoeuvre in dealing with the issues, which change on a weekly and monthly basis in the industry in question. It is important that the Minister has discretion, regardless of who is in office.

I reassure Senators that most of this area is prescribed in the law. We must put regulations before the House. The Bill states in section 3(3):

Every order (other than an order under section 1(3)) or regulation made by the Minister under this Act shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and, if a resolution annulling the order or regulation is passed by either such House within the next 21 days on which that House sits after the order or regulation is laid before it, the order or regulation shall be annulled accordingly, but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.

The Senator can be reassured that, contrary to his belief, both Houses will have vigilance over the issue.

The theory is fine. I do not disagree with the factual position as outlined by the Minister, but the reality is that various papers are laid before the House, which means placing them in the Library and very few get to the floor of the House. That will not happen unless someone is motivated. My concern is that things happen under the radar and if someone does not share the Minister's disposition on the issue, I would be concerned that regulations could be made under the legislation which might not be conducive to the objective of the Bill.

I wish to raise one other matter in that regard.

I received, as I am sure did the other Members present, representations from the tobacco industry. I had not received them when I raised the issue of trying to counterfeit-proof the packages on the last day we discussed the Bill. They expressed concern and referred to what has happened in Australia and the number engaged in such activity increasing. My only concern, which is probably shared by everybody who has spoken here, is that we reduce the number of people who smoke. That must be the objective and target. Obviously, part of that is to try to kill off the illicit trade, which operates through the sale of cheaper packages of cigarettes and, as a consequence, people buy them and the younger age group in particular are more inclined to get in on the habit. On the last day we debated the Bill, I thought the Minister was a bit dismissive of this suggestion or at least he said that the packages, as they will be done now, were sufficient and could not be counterfeited. The industry claims there was a 20% increase in such activity in Australia. I do not know if that is the case but I am sure the Department officials, and probably the Minister, will know exactly if there was any increase whatsoever. Even if there was not, it behoves us to ensure that the packaging is as counterfeit-proof as we can possibly achieve. What specific measures are being included in the legislation to ensure that happens? It is a problem.

We met people from the retail oil industry in Belfast only last week who spoke about what goes on in the Border area and peripheral to that is cigarette smuggling. There were other issues also. We should be conscious of that issue, which also feeds in to the wealth generation of the criminal breed and we can all see the consequences of that. There are good reasons for doing this, but I do not have any gems of wisdom as to how it might be done. I believe it should be done and the Minister will probably have good ideas and experts to guide him as to what can done in that regard, but it is important that we make it more difficult for people to counterfeit the packages.

I thank the Senator for raising that issue because it gives me an opportunity to debunk a myth that is put out by the tobacco industry that there has been an increase in smuggling and illicit sales in Australia. There is no evidence to support that. There are studies, which the Senator's colleague, Senator van Turnhout, pointed out on the last day, sponsored by the tobacco industry purporting that this is the case based on four other studies which were sponsored by the tobacco industry to support its case. The reality is that 13% of cigarettes are thought to be illegal in this country. Only 1% of that 13% is counterfeit, the rest is contraband, bought legally in other countries, produced by the said same tobacco companies with profit and then brought in here to be sold cheaper by people who are engaged in illicit activity. That is an enforcement issue.

I wish I had brought the packs with me again today to demonstrate the huge difference between the plain, standardised packaging that we are talking about with the graphic illustration of what cigarettes do to one versus what is on the market today, and the Members would see that with us being the first country in Europe to do this, smuggling would be extremely difficult because they are different from everything else that is available in Europe. That is the first point.

The second point, and it is a really important one that we all need to remind ourselves of continually, is that this is about a product that kills 5,200 people in this country every single year and 700,000 people across Europe. That is the core argument here. Those in the tobacco industry are past masters at pivoting away from the real issue, which is the death and destruction, consequent to their product, of families and lives, to talk about smuggling, counterfeit, contraband, retailers or anything else except the issue, which is allowing them advertise a product in a way that is particularly targeted at children - survey after survey shows that 78% of smokers start smoking under the age of 18 - to replace the smokers their product has killed or others who had the good fortune to be able to give it up. It is a highly addictive habit and very difficult for people to quit, even to the point that, as I have said previously, my own brother a doctor, an epidemiologist, could not quit them even though they were killing him.

We must never forget that this is about protecting our children above all else, because we have a duty of care to them. We can talk about all those other issues but we must never forget the core one, which the tobacco companies would dearly love us to forget about and take us up culs-de-sac elsewhere. That has been their modus operandi for decades and will continue to be. Any Member who had the opportunity to watch Peter Taylor’s recent programme on BBC, “Burning Desire: The Seduction of Smoking”, would have seen what the tobacco industry did in the West over the past 30 years, it is now doing in developing countries, namely, making children addicted to cigarettes.

The Revenue Commissioners will now have a highly sophisticated stamp on packets, which will be extraordinarily difficult to tamper with and which will help distinguish between legal and illegal products. It is quite happy this measure will not lead to any increase in the illicit cigarette trade.

The Minister’s central point is about the number of deaths caused by tobacco. We all have family members who died from smoking and it is a matter of great regret to every one of us personally.

It struck me when the Minister was speaking that, as an effort to promote road safety, we used to have road signs stating the number of fatalities caused by traffic accidents in every county. Putting up a poster on a billboard stating the number of people who died from smoking over the past decade should be part of our campaign. While the Minister’s efforts are an excellent step in the right direction, we need to bolster it. Senator Conway is correct that this is a war with the tobacco companies which are well-resourced. They have no morality in what they are doing, particularly when one sees how they target poor countries where they spend millions of euro on advertising and marketing to get people there addicted to cigarettes.

The tobacco industry will continue to fight a rear-guard action against this legislation. I appreciate the convention is that regulations are laid before both Houses. However, this does not necessarily oblige that there be a debate on them. Due to the large number of statutory instruments passed by the Government, few of them come on to the floor of this House. I recall only one over the past 12 months. Will the Minister give some indication as to when he will be introducing the relevant regulations to copperfasten this legislation?

We will introduce the regulations at the same time we enact the legislation. I accept fully that many statutory instruments go through unremarked upon, unnoticed and not noted. We are very fortunate, however, to have some wonderful non-governmental organisations such as the Irish Cancer Society, the Asthma Society of Ireland, COPD Support Ireland and many others. Even if the Members of this House in the future are less diligent and alert, they will be alerted very rapidly by those societies and others of any attempts by the tobacco industry to undermine these regulations. If they have reservations, I am absolutely confident they will make Members of both Houses aware of them.

Question put and agreed to.
NEW SECTIONS

I move amendment No. 23:

In page 14, between lines 3 and 4, to insert the following:

“Retail packaging of cigars

11. (1) Subject to subsection (2), a cigar packet shall—

(a) in respect of the outer surface thereof, be of a prescribed colour with a matt finish,

(b) in respect of the inner surface thereof, be of a prescribed colour,

(c) not bear a mark or trade mark other than in accordance with subsections (3) and (4),

(d) not have any decorative ridges, embossing or other embellishments on the outer surface thereof,

(e) not contain an adhesive that is coloured or non-transparent,

(f) not contain any inserted items or affixed items other than as provided for by law,

(g) not contain any item incorporated into the packaging other than as provided for by law.

(2) Paragraphs (a) and (c) of subsection (1) shall not apply to the following:

(a) health warnings;

(b) a bar-code or other similar identification mark that is in accordance with regulations under subsection (5);

(c) such other items as are provided for by law.

(3) Subject to subsection (4), the following may be printed on a cigar packet:

(a) a brand name or business name or company name; and

(b) a variant name for the cigar concerned.

(4) A name referred to in subsection (3) shall be printed in accordance with regulations under subsection (10) and may be printed—

(a) once on the front outer surface of the cigar packet,

(b) once on the top outer surface of the cigar packet, and

(c) once on the bottom outer surface of the cigar packet,

provided that the name does not obscure or interfere with health warnings on the cigar packet.

(5) A bar-code or other similar identification mark may be printed once on a cigar packet in such form and manner as may be prescribed by the Minister, including the colour, dimensions, specifications and positioning of such bar-code or mark, provided that the bar-code or mark does not convey any information to the consumer (including any information conveyed by means of electronic communication).

(6) A cigar packet shall—

(a) be cuboid in shape, the edges of which may be rounded or bevelled,

(b) be made of carton or soft material,

(c) not contain an opening that can be re-closed or re-opened after it is first opened

other than—

(i) a flip-top lid provided the lid is hinged at the back of the packet, or

(ii) a shoulder-box hinged-lid.

(7) Subsections (1) to (5) shall apply with all necessary modifications to any other form of outside packaging of cigars.

(8) A wrapper that covers a cigar packet or any other form of outside packaging of cigar shall—

(a) be transparent,

(b) not be coloured,

(c) not have any decorative ridges, embossing or other embellishments,

(d) not bear a trade mark or mark other than a tear-strip that is in accordance with regulations under subsection (9),

(e) not have any affixed item, other than as provided for by law.

(9) The Minister may prescribe the manner in which a tear-strip may be printed on a wrapper under subsection (8)(d), including the colour, dimensions, specifications, and positioning of a tear-strip on the wrapper.

(10) The Minister may prescribe the manner in which a name referred to in subsection (3) may be printed on a cigar packet or any other form of outside packaging of cigars, including the colour, font type, font size, positioning, whether the name shall be in uppercase, lowercase, or any mix thereof and appearance of such a name.

(11) In prescribing matters referred to in subsection (1)(a) or (b) or subsection (10), the Minister shall have regard to—

(a) the need to decrease the appeal of cigars,

(b) the need to increase the effectiveness of health warnings on retail packaging of cigar, and

(c) the need to reduce the ability of retail packaging of cigars to mislead consumers about the harmful effects of smoking.

(12) This section applies to the retail packaging of cigars that are intended for sale by retail in the State.

(13) Subsection (6) applies to the retail packaging of cigars that are intended to be placed on the market.

(14) For the purpose of this section “cigar” means a roll of tobacco that can be consumed via a combustion process and is further defined in Article 4(1) of Directive 2011/64/EU, or a “cigarillo” as is defined in Article 8(1) of Council Directive 2007/74/EC (2).”.

As someone who battled tobacco addiction over many years, thankfully successfully for several decades now, I know one of the great canards is that smoking cigars is a harmless vice. It is often alleged that it is far less harmful to health than smoking cigarettes. Former cigarette smokers, when they smoke cigars, tend to inhale them which makes a cigar a particularly large, dangerous and poisonous cigarette.

Even in people who have never smoked cigarettes and who smoked cigars in the more traditional non-inhalational way, there is exactly zero doubt that it increases the risk of several cancers and there is still a systemic absorption of the cancer causing toxins. Therefore, it is not just a question of inhaling them into one's lungs.

I believe the industry, over the years, has indulged in a number of subtle attempts to market cigars as somehow tobacco light, as something which is less harmful, and as a vice which, perhaps, not only is less harmful but has a certain social cache. There are whole magazines in parts of the world, cigar bars and also a magazine called Cigar Aficionado. We also have people who would never ever let themselves be seen as supportive of cigarette smoking allowing their good name and celebrity brand to be associated with the smoking of cigars. For this reason, in addition to the general description of other tobacco products that the Minister put in the Bill, this would be an excellent opportunity to hammer home the message about cigars by making a simple amendment which basically and explicitly extends what the Minister has said about manufactured cigarettes, and the products used for roll-your-own tobacco, to cigars as well. It is for that reason that I ask him to consider this amendment carefully.

I thank the Senator again for his concern and the amendment which aims to include specific provisions in the Bill for the packaging of cigars. However, the Bill as it stands makes provisions for the packaging of cigars in section 10 on retail packaging of other tobacco products. Section 10 sets out requirements which apply to all tobacco products, including cigars. Therefore, I do not believe it is necessary to have the amendment and I ask him, respectfully, to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 24:

In page 14, between lines 3 and 4, to insert the following:

“Retail packaging of electronic cigarettes

11. (1) Subject to subsection (2), an electronic cigarette packet shall—

(a) in respect of the outer surface thereof, be of a prescribed colour with a matt finish,

(b) in respect of the inner surface thereof, be of a prescribed colour,

(c) not bear a mark or trade mark other than in accordance with subsections (3) and (4),

(d) not have any decorative ridges, embossing or other embellishments on the outer surface thereof,

(e) not contain an adhesive that is coloured or non-transparent,

(f) not contain any inserted items or affixed items other than as provided for by law,

(g) not contain any item incorporated into the packaging other than as provided for by law.

(2) Paragraphs (a) and (c) of subsection (1) shall not apply to the following:

(a) a bar-code or other similar identification mark that is in accordance with regulations under subsection (5);

(b) such other items as are provided for by law.

(3) Subject to subsection (4), the following may be printed on an electronic cigarette packet:

(a) a brand name or business name or company name; and

(b) a variant name for the electronic cigarette concerned.

(4) A name referred to in subsection (3) shall be printed in accordance with regulations under subsection (10) and may be printed—

(a) once on the front outer surface of the electronic cigarette packet,

(b) once on the top outer surface of the electronic cigarette packet, and

(c) once on the bottom outer surface of the electronic cigarette packet.

(5) A bar-code or other similar identification mark may be printed once on an electronic cigarette packet in such form and manner as may be prescribed by the Minister, including the colour, dimensions, specifications and positioning of such bar-code or mark, provided that the bar-code or mark does not convey any information to the consumer (including any information conveyed by means of electronic communication).

(6) An electronic cigarette packet shall—

(a) be cuboid in shape, the edges of which may be rounded or bevelled,

(b) be made of carton or soft material,

(c) not contain an opening that can be re-closed or re-opened after it is first opened other than—

(i) a flip-top lid provided the lid is hinged at the back of the packet, or

(ii) a shoulder-box hinged-lid.

(7) Subsections (1) to (5) shall apply with all necessary modifications to any other form of outside packaging of electronic cigarettes.

(8) A wrapper that covers an electronic cigarette packet or any other form of outside packaging of electronic cigarettes shall—

(a) be transparent,

(b) not be coloured,

(c) not have any decorative ridges, embossing or other embellishments,

(d) not bear a trade mark or mark other than a tear-strip that is in accordance with regulations under subsection (9),

(e) not have any affixed item, other than as provided for by law.

(9) The Minister may prescribe the manner in which a tear-strip may be printed on a wrapper under subsection (8)(d), including the colour, dimensions, specifications, and positioning of a tear-strip on the wrapper.

(10) The Minister may prescribe the manner in which a name referred to in subsection (3) may be printed on an electronic cigarette packet or any other form of outside packaging of electronic cigarettes, including the colour, font type, font size, positioning, whether the name shall be in uppercase, lowercase, or any mix thereof and appearance of such a name.

(11) This section applies to the retail packaging of electronic cigarettes that are intended

for sale by retail in the State.

(12) Subsection (6) applies to the retail packaging of electronic cigarettes that are intended to be placed on the market.

(13) For the purpose of this section “electronic cigarette” means a product that can be used for consumption of nicotine-containing vapour via a mouth piece, or any component of that product, including a cartridge, a tank and the device without cartridge or tank. Electronic cigarettes can be disposable or refillable by means of a refill container and a tank, or rechargeable with single use cartridges.”.

Go raibh maith agat, a Chathaoirligh, agus go raibh maith agat, a Aire. I have given the question of electronic cigarettes a lot of discussion and thought over the past year. I wish to state a couple of facts.

There is no doubt that electronic cigarettes are less harmful. They do not give a person a great big high intensity or concentration belt of the same cancer causing products that one sees in inhalational tobacco. However, there is no doubt that they are not harmless. Nicotine, itself, we know to be a harmful drug, in addition to the fact that it is addictive, even if it only acts as a gateway to other more harmful ways of accessing tobacco, of accessing nicotine, which is of itself a neuro toxin and a cardiovascular toxin. It can cause peripheral vascular disease, abnormalities of the heart rate, including sudden cardiac death, alterations in seizure threshold and other physiological disturbances so it is dangerous. I believe the only reason it looks somewhat attractive in any sense is that it appears to be, possibly, less dangerous than inhaled smoke-derived nicotine.

We also do not know what the long-term effects of electronic cigarettes are. I have patients, colleagues, friends who have asked me whether it is better for them to give up smoking and use electronic cigarettes. To which I say, "Yes, if the alternative is smoking or using electronic cigarettes it is probably safer to use electronic cigarettes. However, you are far better giving them up altogether".

My great fear is that somehow some kind of a mixed message will go out that electronic cigarettes are something which current non-smokers, or children who are considering the alleged cosmetic effects of the coolness of smoking, may decide this is a way of smoking without incurring the health risks. Of course, as we know, there may be health risks from the use of these products but there is a colossal risk of becoming a tobacco addict and nicotine addict in circumstances where one may find that there are other ways of accessing it. I believe that we should explicitly make the provisions of this Bill apply to all of these inhalational nicotine products. Go raibh maith agat, a Aire.

I share the Senator's concerns. There are great concerns around this matter, particularly the idea that they would be marketed as a lifestyle choice and act as a gateway to smoking. If one asked most smokers why they started smoking one will find it was because they thought it looked cool and were intrigued by the imagery of it all.

In most cases, the first cigarette a person smokes will make him or her ill. What is being argued is that electronic cigarettes are somehow harmless products, which is not the case. As Senator Crown noted, they have a wide range of effects and while they are certainly less harmful than tobacco, why should we replace one harm with another? If they were an aid for people to stop smoking, that would be welcome. However, the jury is out on that issue also as they are not any more effective than nicotine patches. Notwithstanding this, it has not been our intention to include electronic cigarettes in this legislation. The Department is preparing another Bill on electronic cigarettes and the exigencies that will apply to them.

The reason I will not accept the amendment is not that I do not share the Senator's concerns but because I have a separate Bill being prepared on the issue that will go before Cabinet shortly. Some of its provisions have already been seen by the Cabinet. With respect, therefore, I will not accept the amendment, although I assure the Senator that I share his concerns, particularly on the practice of smoking electronic cigarettes in any environment, whether a restaurant, bar or other area. A couple of years ago, one of our major airlines promoted the sale of these products during flights.

The Senator's views will help us in respect of the Bill we are preparing on electronic cigarettes. I hope he understands, however, that I will not accept the amendment.

As we stated on Committee Stage, what we wish for the tobacco industry is bankruptcy. We would like all those who are affiliated with the industry to seek alternative lines of work, all the investors involved in supporting it to invest elsewhere and all the retailers of tobacco products to clear their shelves of them. We do not want anybody to profit from the sale of tobacco products.

There is no doubt that there has been a very substantial infiltration, to the point of near domination, of the electronic cigarette market by the traditional cigarette companies, which will be able to use a less regulated product to hook additional addicts for the other products they continue to sell. These companies will also be able to tap up their financial reserves with the profits from less regulated electronic products. This amendment provides an opportunity to strike another blow at our enemies. In pursuit of that objective, and Cabinet confidentiality being what it is, will the new Bill impose a similar level of stringency on the packaging of electronic cigarettes as applies to tobacco products?

I am acutely aware of the fact that I could find myself standing in a different type of dock. For this reason, while I share his sentiments, I will shy away from using some of the language of which the Senator has availed. What we are trying to do is protect children from ever taking up this heinous habit and help those who have become addicted to overcome their addiction. We will do whatever is necessary within the law, including introducing legislation, to achieve those objectives.

On the direct question posed by Senator Crown, the new Bill will contain many provisions. I do not wish to comment any further at this juncture because it would be a little premature to do so. I hope the Senator will allow me the latitude to decline to speak further on the issue at this point. I hope to return to the Chamber in the not too distant future with legislation that will address many of the concerns expressed by the Senator.

I do not believe I made my earlier point strongly enough. If our enemies insist on conducting a business which poisons and kills our citizens and addicts our children, we must send the unambiguous message that we want their businesses to fail and we want them out of business and bankrupt. There is zero ambiguity on that issue. It would be preferable if those who are involved in these industries made alternative investments and plans and tobacco farmers grew alternative crops. Unfortunately, I am precluded from providing financial incentives in legislation to encourage ethical shops, retailers and hoteliers to cease selling tobacco products on their premises in return for being offered a preferential VAT rate on all other products they sell on their premises. This would incentivise people to leave the tobacco business because everyone who turns a profit from tobacco, profits from death.

I understand the Minister may find himself defending the position I have advocated in other forums and he will have widespread support when he does so. We should be unambiguous about our ambitions in respect of companies that sell death to citizens. This is a great opportunity, educationally and in every other way, to strike a blow against electronic cigarettes. These products will become a much more compelling gateway drug to one of the major drugs in use in this country, the inhalation of tobacco, than other alleged gateway drugs are to other substances of abuse.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment Nos. 25 to 27, inclusive, not moved.
SECTION 11

I move amendment No. 28:

In page 14, line 6, after “prescribed” to insert “by the Minister by regulation”.

The amendment addresses a technical issue, with a view to making it more difficult for the Minister to be challenged. Rather than providing that the colour of the lining of a packet can be prescribed, the amendment provides that it must be done by the Minister by regulation.

While I do not wish to be seen to be declining every amendment, this proposal is not necessary as the Bill states that the Minister for Health may make regulations on any matter referred to in the Act, as prescribed. As such, the inclusion of the phrase, "by the Minister by regulation", as set out in the amendment, is not necessary because it is already provided for in the body of the Bill. My notes indicate I cannot accept the amendment and while I do not believe that is the case, I am not keen to accept it. Section 3(1) on orders and regulations states: "The Minister may by regulations provide for any matter referred to in this Act as prescribed or to be prescribed or for the purposes of enabling any provision of this Act to have full effect." The matter is comprehensively covered.

SECTION 12

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 11 agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 12 stand part of the Bill."

Section 12(1) provides that the "tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide content of a tobacco product shall not be printed on a unit packet or any other form of retail packaging of a tobacco product." When we discussed this provision previously the Minister indicated it may be used by a company to promote the view that its death-dealing commodity is less fatal than another company's product. Will the Minister provide information elsewhere - he referred to a specific website - to enable people to ascertain the tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide content of these deathly products? Where will this information be made available? While I appreciate it cannot be done under this section, these issues will not go away. The measures to promote these products will not draw attention to the fact that they contain tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide.

Will the Minister or one of the agencies for which he has responsibility do it instead? I would be very reassured if that information is public.

The reason this is specifically mentioned is because, under the directive, the tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide content of a tobacco product shall not be printed on a unit packet or any other form of retail packaging of a tobacco product. We will be transposing that into law. There is no wriggle room in that regard. I hear what the Senator is saying about making the information available, and it will be made available through the website and other mechanisms. The reason for this provision, as the Senator pointed out, is that what will be attempted by the tobacco companies is to state the low tar and low carbon monoxide and that their product is safer to smoke than another one. The point is that smoking tobacco products will kill.

I thank the Minister for his response. I will not oppose section 12.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 13 to 22, inclusive, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment and received for final consideration.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

I thank all the Senators who submitted amendments to this Bill and I also thank all those who have contributed to the Bill's progression through this House. I am particularly pleased there were no dissenting voices regarding the Bill. This demonstrates in practice what has been concluded in an EU study, that is, the Irish public has a strong willingness to adopt public health measures which will reduce the numbers of people who smoke in this country.

There is a wealth of evidence indicating that standardised packaging will have a positive impact. However, no matter what evidence we produce, the tobacco industry will produce evidence to contradict this. A recent article in The Lancet re-iterated this when it stated the following: "Tobacco industry misrepresentation of the evidence in order to try to block public health interventions by manipulating policy making and public opinion is well documented." The article went on to say that "it is essential to guard against continued misrepresentation of the evidence". One only has to look at the programme I alluded to, "Burning Desire: The Seduction of Smoking", in which they show a Senate hearing where one representative after another across a straight line of gentlemen got up to say that they did not believe tobacco was addictive. I am confident that the Irish public, including our Deputies and Senators, have not and will not allow themselves to be manipulated. Arguments put out there by the tobacco industry regarding increased illicit trade and supposed job losses from the retail sector do not deflect us from introducing public health measures which will ultimately save lives. This legislation will save lives long after we have passed on from this House and passed on from this life.

As I have stated before, standardised packaging is the latest strand to the comprehensive range of tobacco control legislation already in place in Ireland. It is just one of the many recommendations for implementation set out in Tobacco Free Ireland. What we mean by Tobacco Free Ireland is a prevalence of less than 5% of people smoking by 2025 in the country. Ireland is adopting an approach recommended by the World Health Organization. Guidelines devised in 2008 under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control state the following:

Parties should consider adopting measures to restrict or prohibit the use of logos, colours, brand images or promotional information on packaging other than brand names and product names displayed in a standard colour and font style (plain packaging). This may increase the noticeability and effectiveness of health warnings and messages, prevent the package from detracting attention from them and address industry package design techniques that may suggest that some products are less harmful than others.

Standardised packaging is not a new concept and as we know Australia acted upon this recommendation. A year on from the introduction of plain packaging in Australia, we have some research on the effects of the policy. One study found that following the introduction of plain packaging and larger pictorial warnings on packs, smoking in outdoor areas declined by 23%. It also found that personal pack display, that is, where packs are clearly visible on tables, declined by 15%, particularly in venues where children were present. Flashing out a nice packet in front of one's friends that one is going to have a cigarette may seem like a cool thing to do, but flashing a very disturbing picture of a gangrenous foot, a rotting lung or a dying man will not be cool. They also found a 78% increase in the number of calls to the smoking cessation helpline. This increase was due to the introduction of plain packaging. The researchers found it was not attributable to other causes, such as anti-tobacco advertising or cigarette price increases.

As I said earlier, the misrepresentation of evidence by the tobacco industry is a well-recognised tactic. Another is the threat of legal challenges. While a legal challenge by the tobacco industry cannot be ruled out - I say that tongue in cheek because one can be absolutely sure it will happen - I am confident that the research available to us demonstrates that standardised packaging will have a positive impact on health and is a proportionate and justified measure. The threat of legal challenges should not be an obstacle to progressing public health policies. We must press on with our mission to make Ireland tobacco free by 2025. We owe that to our children. We can never allow multinationals focused on profit to interfere in any way with our public health policy, which is designed for the benefit of our people.

Again, I thank all the Senators who participated in these debates. I also thank the Senators who are members of the Joint Committee on Health and Children for their work on this Bill. Before I commend the Bill to the House, I remind Members that the battle is only really beginning. The real fight will start now. Today, I was advised by a senior Cabinet colleague that our actions in this regard, and mine as Minister for Health, have not gone unnoticed in certain states of the USA. I, together with Senator Crown, would love to see a situation where in both Europe and the United States a way was found to subsidise farmers to produce a crop other than tobacco.

I thank the Minister for bringing forward this legislation and all the staff in the Department of Health and in the Office of the Attorney General for their work in this area. It is important that we have legislation because the likelihood is that there will be some challenge and we must ensure all the t's are crossed and the i's dotted. A great deal of work has gone into this Bill.

I wish to pay tribute to all the organisations that have lobbied for change down through the years. It is a good day for them in that their viewpoint has been heard by the Minister and the Government. I thank the medical profession, including the Minister, who have been to the fore in highlighting the number of deaths that have been caused by smoking, which amounts to more than 5,000 a year. I hope in the next few years we will see a reduction in that number as a result not only of this Bill, but the changes introduced by the leader of the Fianna Fáil Party when he was the Minister for Health. That resulted in substantial changes in the attitudes to smoking. I thank my colleagues on the Joint Committee of Health and Children for giving an opportunity to all the parties involved in this area to have their points heard and for the issues they raised to be taken on board. I again thank the Minister for his work in this area.

I thank the Minister for coming to the House to deal with this Bill, which is good legislation. I hope he will use his powers under the regulations as he has suggested he will.

It is another step in the right direction towards ridding society of the scourge of tobacco. I agree this is only the beginning of the process. I am sure the tobacco companies will take this to the Four Courts to try to delay this legislation. They have heavily lobbied retail colleagues about the footfall they will lose. While I appreciate they may lose something, we all support this legislation and our retailers and will do so in other ways. Well done to the Minister. I hope the courts will not delay progress on the legislation for too long.

Senators Burke and MacSharry have neatly summed up what I wanted to say. I congratulate the Minister on taking another step in the journey to making Ireland tobacco free. It is a good move. This is comprehensive and robust legislation and will stand up to any challenge it may face in the future. I wish him well in his further steps on this journey towards making Ireland tobacco free.

I thank the Minister for introducing this legislation in the Seanad. I thank him and the officials from the Department of Health for their personal commitment to it. I also thank the legal advisers who ensure we are well armed. I note too the contribution of the advocacy organisations, particularly the Irish Cancer Society and the Irish Heart Foundation, and the children’s rights organisations, and the young people we met who were the most convincing advocates. I encourage other organisations not to do the dirty work of the tobacco industry. Let it do its own dirty work.

I welcome the Minister’s commitment to considering the transitional arrangements in the Dáil and the wash-through period. I look forward to seeing that reduced in the Dáil process.

I encourage the Minister to bring forward the Protection of Children’s Health (Tobacco Smoke in Mechanically Propelled Vehicles) Bill 2012 to complete its passage before the summer recess. It will start in the Dáil on 8 and 9 July but I do not see why all Stages cannot be quickly dealt with. Senator Crown, who initiated the Bill with me and Senator Daly, would agree. I encourage the Minister to send out strong signals before the summer recess.

Comhghairdeas leis an Aire. This is a very important initiative which will have a real and measurable effect by making people stop and think about why they continue to smoke. Every time a major anti-tobacco initiative occurs, it makes people stop and think. People who might have wondered if they should consider giving it up again take up the cudgel of attempting to cease this terrible habit. It will have a huge educational effect. Every opportunity we have to get that message home must be taken.

I am disappointed that a previous attempt to limit the ability of tobacco companies to access Government via public relations, PR, companies in this Chamber was unsuccessful but I wish to make a public appeal to every single person who runs a PR company, many of whom are former politicians - it is the nature of that business - or sets up a business because they have connections with politicians or works in such companies. Some of them are smokers, and some are not, but every single person in a PR company knows or is related to someone who has been killed by smoking. It is that simple. Failing our ability to legislate for this, I ask them to take this opportunity to enter into some kind of a voluntary concordat for ethical public relations and to sign up to an undertaking that they will have nothing whatsoever to do with advertising, lobbying or doing PR work on behalf of this incredibly evil industry that we as a society need to see go out of business.

I join Senator Crown and others in congratulating the Minister on bringing this legislation through. In the Sunday Independent last Sunday a gentleman representing the industry claimed there are 1,900 people employed in the tobacco industry on the island of Ireland. As the Minister said, it kills 5,200 people every year and I would hate to be in an industry which had that kind of record.

We know from the Irish Heart Foundation that 71% of Irish people support the introduction of standardised packaging as set out in this legislation. Research commissioned by the Department of Health from Dr. David Hammond of the University of Waterloo in Canada showed that plain packaging will reduce smoking initiation among youth and young adults, promote smoking cessation among established smokers, help former smokers remain abstinent and de-normalise tobacco use.

Senator Crown has mentioned the PR companies. I appeal to other parts of the private sector, which, in general, I support. The members of those associations destroyed the economy of this country in 2008 by reckless banking. Law firms with deep pockets in Dublin should not rally round to attack this Minister because he is trying to improve the health of the nation by running cases in the courts on intellectual property grounds, using money which we in this House do not have to spend on court cases but which tobacco companies do have. According to Wikipedia:

Intellectual property (IP) rights are the legally recognized exclusive rights to creations of the mind. Under intellectual property law, owners are granted certain exclusive rights to a variety of intangible assets, such as musical, literary, and artistic works; discoveries and inventions; and words, phrases, symbols, and designs.

How can one use intellectual property rights to defend the tobacco industry and its distinctive packages? We are allowing them to continue to market products of which many of us disapprove but with a plain label. They can still trade internationally. They accuse this Minister of disrupting trade and so on. We are not doing that; they are simply conducting it under conditions of plain wrapping.

I hope members of the Law Library and the Incorporated Law Society of Ireland will not rush to oppose this legislation. The private enterprise sector, through banking and accounting firms, did itself immense damage in the relatively recent past. I am disappointed that the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland appears to oppose the Minister. I would be very disappointed if a sector which badly needs to re-establish confidence after the damage it has done to the country now condemns, and hires PR companies to oppose this legislation and the Minister, who is slightly curtailing a toxic industry, much less than Senator Crown and I would wish. Parliament is entitled to take measures to promote public health. I am delighted this Minister has done so. His opponents should seriously consider their position before they rush to serve legal writs on him. I congratulate him. May this legislation fare well because it is doing exactly what is required.

I sat through nearly all of this debate and commend the Minister again on his initiative, bravery and courage because he and the staff in the Department of Health know better than most that this is a very powerful industry. The most insidious aspect of the opposition to the legislation is the involvement of the American Chamber of Commerce with the subliminal message that it would somehow sunder or threaten the strong, close relationship between Ireland and America. That indicates the depths to which this industry will go. The Minister has resisted this and that is highly commendable. As he said, the war has just commenced. I think the lawyers will have great difficulty driving a coach and horses through it, to quote Daniel O'Connell. The coach and the horse will be well stalled before they hit the steps of the Four Courts.

Question put and agreed to.

When is it proposed to sit again?

At 10.30 a.m. tomorrow.