Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 25 Oct 1978

Vol. 308 No. 7

Tobacco Products (Control of Advertising, Sponsorship and Sales Promotion) Bill, 1978: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

Deputy O'Toole has been interrupted on two or three occasions and he is still in possession.

Before reporting progress on this Bill I was referring to the efficacy of a positive approach to this problem with a view to a reduction in cigarette smoking generally and I made the point that the ambition of the Minister was to see to it that the approach now being made would effect a reduction in the smoking habit. I suggested that prohibition in any form might not be too successful, while a more positive approach towards some idea as to how people could be induced to kick the habit of smoking would be much more acceptable. Many thousands of people are searching for this kind of advice. The Minister promised that he would give the House and the country the benefit of his experience of getting rid of this habit and I look forward very much to hearing what he has to say on that.

I now go on to the portion of the Bill concerning partial prohibition and to deal with it not in the way in which it might be dealt with in Committee but in a more general way. The Bill refers to "prohibition of advertising of particular kinds of tobacco products". I appreciate that it is drafted in such way to allow for substantial intervention by the Minister at any time through the ministerial order device, bringing orders before the House, but I suggest that in its present form the Bill is very vague. There is no specific mention of what particular kinds of advertising might be prohibited. We understand from the statements made by the Minister that he is concerned with outdoor advertising of tobacco and other products related to tobacco. We have nothing more in the Bill than the framework in which he can exercise absolute power in complete prohibition or a degree of prohibition which he thinks is desirable. He can do what he thinks fit.

This is causing a certain amount of concern to the public at large, the tobacco companies and the people who receive sponsorship from those companies, but I believe it is also causing concern among some of his ministerial colleagues, particularly when one considers the vast amount of revenue the State receives from the industry in general. We know that the Bill will be concerned with particular types of advertising, but this needs to be spelled out more clearly.

There is also a section which deals with offences in connection with advertising. Has the Minister considered the implementation of whatever orders might result from the enactment of this Bill? I am considering this in conjunction with the Consumer Information Act, which is exclusively concerned with advertising and a proper code in connection with it. It is concerned with misleading advertising and offences under the Act. The provisions of that Act will be implemented through a director of consumer affairs, who has to be appointed.

The Minister has in the Bill before the House set up a new framework which will monitor advertising in the tobacco industry, and he is handing over the monitoring of it to the officers of health boards. I believe that there are two parallel monitoring systems here, one under the Consumer Information Act and the one proposed under this Bill. I can visualise cases, and I am sure the Minister can also where there could be overlapping and problems relating to who is responsible for monitoring a particular type of advertising. It is necessary to know if it comes under the director of consumer affairs or under the health board officers. This is rather sloppy legislation when one considers the very specific terms of reference in the Consumer Information Act with regard to the responsibilities of the director under section 9 of that Act. The Bill would have been much tidier if the Minister decided to allow the proposed monitoring of the advertising of tobacco to come under the aegis of the responsible authority in the Consumer Information Act, because we are dealing with the same thing.

Debate adjourned.
Business suspended at 1.30 p.m. and resumed at 2.30 p.m.