Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Ceisteanna (603)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

603. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health his plans to counteract the lobbying force of tobacco companies and their spreading of misinformation about the tobacco industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21174/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As the Deputy will be aware, tobacco control is an area in which I take a great personal interest and in which my Department is taking action as a matter of priority. Specifically on the matter of lobbying by the tobacco industry, the Deputy may be aware that Ireland has signed and ratified the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). Article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC states that Parties shall act to protect their public health policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry, in accordance with national law.

I have written to all Government Departments to remind Ministers and officials about Ireland’s obligations under the Framework Convention.

Tobacco Free Ireland, our current national policy, contains a recommendation to take steps to ensure that all government officials, employees of state agencies and members of any government branch responsible for setting and implementing tobacco control policies and for protecting those policies against tobacco industry interests are aware of their obligations under the WHO FCTC and are aware of the Guidelines developed to assist in meeting these obligations.

I am pleased to note that the public hearings held earlier this year by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children to review the General Scheme of the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill conformed to the WHO guidelines. Full transcripts of the hearings are now available on the Oireachtas website.

I am fully aware of the lobbying that is taking place in an attempt to thwart the introduction of standardised packaging. Standardised packaging will help to protect our children from the killer that is tobacco. No amount of lobbying will divert this Government from our goals of protecting the future health of our children and achieving a Tobacco Free Ireland by 2025.Standardised packaging will help to protect our children.