My Department has not conducted or commissioned studies specifically relating to plain or generic packaging of tobacco products. It is recognised that in an environment of increasing prohibition of tobacco advertising and sponsorship worldwide, the cigarette pack has become a key marketing tool for the tobacco industry to promote their products.
I am aware that before the UK make any decision regarding standardised or plain packaging for tobacco products a consultation process is being conducted with a closing date for submissions of 10th August, 2012. I am also aware that the Australian legislation which introduces plain packaging for tobacco products is being challenged in its High Court and that a judgment in this regard is pending. Plain packaging is one of the issues being considered in the context of the revision of the Tobacco Products Directive by the European Commission in consultation with Member States. I understand that the legislative proposal in relation to this is due to be published later this year.
In recent discussions with representatives of the European Commission I have indicated my wish that the proposal for a revision of the Directive be published as soon as possible in order for Ireland to significantly progress it during the Irish Presidency in January 2013. The introduction of plain packaging is also being considered by the Tobacco Policy Review Group, which is expected to report shortly. My Department will continue to monitor developments in Australia and the UK in this regard and these developments together with the forthcoming revision of the EU Tobacco Products Directive will inform policy in this area. I will continue to support any international developments in relation to plain or standardised packaging for tobacco products.