Section 38(10) of the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2002 to 2015 provides the Minister with powers to "make regulations in relation to the control and regulation of activities which are intended or are likely to promote the sale of tobacco products". At present the regulations made under this section of the Act do not specifically prohibit the sale of the so called combi boxes referred to by the Deputy. As outlined in my response to the Deputy's previous Parliamentary Question on this issue (Ref:41867/17), a number of measures have recently been introduced aimed at having a positive public health impact on the numbers of people smoking roll-your-own tobacco. The EU Tobacco Products Directive came into force in 2014 and was transposed into Irish legislation in 2016. Under that legislation the sale of roll-your-own tobacco packs weighing less than 30 gram is prohibited. Prior to this roll-your-own tobacco could be purchased in 12.5 gram and 25 gram packets. This increase in the size of the packet has the effect of making roll-your-own tobacco less affordable than before, particularly to younger adults. Evidence indicates that pricing is a key means of reducing tobacco consumption. Government Policy, Tobacco Free Ireland contains recommendations in relation to raising taxes on tobacco products including reducing the price differential between roll-your-own tobacco and cigarettes. I was very pleased that in the context of Budget 2018, my colleague, Minister Pascal Donohue TD increased the excise duty on tobacco products generally and, in particular, specifically increased the excise duty on roll-your-own tobacco so as to reduce the price differential between roll-your-own tobacco and cigarettes.
Irish legislation which came into force on 30 September 2017 provides that all retail packaging of tobacco products manufactured from that date must be in standardised packaging. The aim of standardised packaging is to make all tobacco packs look less attractive, make health warnings more prominent and prevent packaging from misleading consumers about the harmful effects of tobacco. In relation to the health warnings the EU Tobacco Products Directive had the effect of significantly increasing the size of the picture health warnings on tobacco packaging.
It is anticipated that these and other tobacco control, cessation and health promotion measures will continue to reduce the numbers smoking tobacco. I, and my Government colleagues, are committed to the on-going implementation of Tobacco Free Ireland.