Home > Govt approval for plain cig packaging.

[irishhealth.com] , Hunter, Niall Govt approval for plain cig packaging. (28 May 2013)

External website: http://www.irishhealth.com/article.html?id=22168

Health Minister James Reilly has been given Government approval to begin the process of introducing standardised/plain packaging of tobacco products in Ireland.

Ireland is set to become the second country in the world after Australia to introduce plain packaging on tobacco products.

Minister Reilly said while many arguments will be made against such an introduction, he was confident that this legislation was justified and purely by the fact that it will save lives.

"Smoking places an enormous burden of illness and mortality on our society with over 5,200 people dying every year from tobacco related diseases - one in two of all smokers will die from their addiction", he said.

"To replace the smokers who quit, the tobacco industry needs to recruit fifty new smokers in Ireland every day just to maintain smoking rates at their current level. Given that 78% of smokers in a survey said they started smoking under the age of 18, it's clear that the tobacco industry focuses on children to replace those customers who die or quit.

The theme of World No Tobacco Day on Friday is 'Ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship'.

"The introduction of standardised packaging will remove the final way for tobacco companies to promote their deadly product in Ireland." the Minister said.

He said cigarette packets would no longer be 'a mobile advertisement for the tobacco industry'.

"Research has shown that packaging has been used effectively to reassure consumers about the risks of smoking, for example with the use of the words 'mild' or 'light' on packs in the past. Research has also shown that imagery and colours are also used to influence consumers. Pack shape and design are also key measures with packets available that resemble a lipstick box."

Standardised packaging of tobacco products will remove all form of branding - trademarks, logos, colours and graphics. The brand name would be presented in a uniform typeface for all brands and the packs would all be in one plain neutral colour, while graphic health warnings will be prominent on packs.

According to the Department of Health, there is strong evidence that standardised packaging will:

* Increase the effectiveness of health warnings;
* Reduce false health beliefs about cigarettes; and
* Reduce brand appeal particularly among youth and young adults.

The Irish Cancer Society and the Irish Heart Foundation have welcomed today’s Government announcement that Ireland will become one of the first countries in the world to ban branding from cigarette packaging.

The charities claim that children will be less likely to start smoking because of the new legislation and has urged that the Government to ensure that its introduction is not delayed.

"In Ireland, children start smoking at a younger age than in any other European country because the tobacco industry has been so successful in marketing cigarettes here,"” said Kathleen O’Meara, Head of Advocacy and Communications at the Irish Cancer Society.

"But recent health legislation, such as the ban on cigarette displays in shops and on cigarette advertising, has restricted the ways in which the tobacco industry can attract new smokers. Now, one of the only ways left to recruit new, young smokers is through attractive packet design and that is why this legislation is so urgently needed", she said.

Chris Macey, Head of Advocacy at the Irish Heart Foundation said: "To maintain its profit levels, the tobacco industry has to replace the smokers it kills – almost always with teenagers who they target through massive investment in attractive cigarette packs."

"Plain packaging is proving to be a powerful weapon in making smoking less appealing and health warnings more effective. The faster it is introduced, the more lives will ultimately be saved and the Minister’s strong stance on this issue should be applauded by every parent in Ireland."

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