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Home > Dail Eireann debate: Public Health (Tobacco) (Amendment) Bill 2013: second stage (continued).

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate: Public Health (Tobacco) (Amendment) Bill 2013: second stage (continued). (16 Jan 2013)

URL: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/dail/2...


(Speaker Continuing)

 

[Deputy James Reilly:] As a consequence of the court judgment, Ireland can no longer set a mandatory pricing level below which cigarette prices cannot be lowered, as this would restrict the freedom of the industry to make effective use of competitive advantage. The Commission indicated that it would initiate infringement proceedings if Ireland did not take steps to comply with the court judgment. As a result of this ruling, my Department informed the tobacco industry that the practice of setting floor prices for cigarettes each year would cease. In addition, Ireland advised the Commission that new regulations would be introduced to remedy the infringement. The aim of the draft regulations developed was to remove the price setting provisions in current tobacco regulations. 

 

During this process and after a considerable period of time the Commission indicated that, in addition to the new regulations, the primary enabling tobacco legislation would need to be amended to meet the requirements of the court judgment. The purpose of amending the primary legislation is to remove the legal basis for the fixing of a minimum price. In order to comply with the court judgment, therefore, new regulations had to be devised and the primary tobacco legislation needed to be amended. I completed the first step in complying with the court ruling in December when I signed regulations - the Tobacco Products (Control of Advertising, Sponsorship and Sales Promotion) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 (S.I. No. 525 of 2012) - the effect of which was to remove the regulatory basis for the fixing of a minimum price.
On examination of the tobacco legislation, it appeared that the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2002 and the Tobacco Products (Control of Advertising, Sponsorship and Sales Promotion) Act 1978 both needed to be amended to satisfy the court judgment. The Bill being debated achieves this in so far as it removes the legal basis for the fixing of a minimum price. In amending the relevant sections of the Act it is important for the power to introduce regulations relating to tobacco sales promotion activities to be retained by me and future Ministers. This power is already available in current tobacco legislation. The provision before the House allows for the development of regulations in this regard. More specifically, it sets out some of the types of promotion to be included in the regulations. For example, it will prohibit "three for the price of two" offers, "happy hour" promotions and "buy one, get one free" deals. The issue of sales promotion activities falls outside the court ruling because it does not relate to minimum or maximum pricing of tobacco and is not, therefore, a direct requirement of the European Commission.
I wish to set out the content of the Bill in detail. It provides for the repeal of certain provisions contained in section 2 of the Tobacco Products (Control of Advertising, Sponsorship and Sales Promotion) Act 1978. It also amends section 38 of the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2002 in respect of activities which are intended or likely to promote the sale of tobacco products.
The Bill is short and comprises three sections. Section 1 amends section 38 of the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2002 by removing any perceived price fixing provision. However, it retains the power to make regulations in respect of activities which are intended or likely to promote the sale of tobacco products. Specifically, the new section 38(10) gives the Minister for Health the power to make these regulations. The new section 38(10A) sets out some of the provisions which may be included in these regulations such as the prohibition of the promotion and sale of tobacco products at a reduced price or free of charge on the purchase of another tobacco product or other products or services. As I mentioned, this covers promotions like "three for the price of two" and "buy one, get one free". The prohibition of the promotion and sale of tobacco products at a reduced price or free of charge for a limited period of time on any day will prohibit "happy hour" promotions. The new section 38(11) will make it an offence for someone to contravene the regulations made under section 38(10).
 

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