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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 1280 - Tobacco control measures [36839/13] [Plain packaging].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 1280 - Tobacco control measures [36839/13] [Plain packaging]. (18 Sep 2013)

URL: http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/debates%20a...


1280. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health if any assessment has been made to date on the impact of the introduction of pictorial health warnings on tobacco packaging with regard to consumption levels especially on the levels of smoking among young persons and children [36839/13] 

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): As the Deputy will be aware, the Public Health (Tobacco) (General and Combined Warnings) Regulations 2011 (SI No. 656), came into effect earlier this year. Since Friday, 1st February 2013, cigarette packaging placed on the Irish market must display graphic photographs with a strong health warning. These images depict the negative health impacts associated with smoking, and were selected by Ireland from the library of images developed by the European Commission. From these images, the most effective combined warnings for the Irish market were identified by research conducted by TNS MRBI commissioned by the Office of Tobacco Control in the Health Service Executive.

Although no formal assessment of the impact of the warnings has taken place in Ireland as yet, it is anticipated that these particular measures will have a positive impact on reducing the numbers of young people starting to smoke. A recent Eurobarometer survey found a high level of public support for various tobacco control measures among Irish citizens, with 90% in support of the introduction of pictorial health warnings on all tobacco products (1). Research and experience in other countries has shown that health warnings combined with coloured photographs can be an effective means of discouraging smoking and informing people about the health risks related to smoking. According to the World Health Organisation, in Canada the introduction of photo images on cigarette packs resulted in a fourfold increase in smoker’s intentions to quit (20% before - 87% after). Also according to the WHO, in Brazil 56% of people changed their opinion about the health consequences of smoking after the introduction of the new packaging. Research has demonstrated clear evidence that health warnings for tobacco packaging increase consumers’ knowledge about the health consequences, contribute to changing consumers’ attitudes towards tobacco use and to changing consumers’ behaviour (2). Combined pictorial and text warnings have been found to be significantly more impactful and memorable than text only warnings (3) and they have therefore been found to be more effective especially in changing consumer behaviour (2). Health warnings on tobacco packaging have been identified as a critical element of tobacco control policy (2).

A new tobacco policy is currently being finalised in the Department of Health. In recognition of the fact that no one element in isolation can be effective in reducing tobacco consumption, Irish tobacco policy is comprised of a suite of measures including education, taxation, regulation and health promotion initiatives such as the inclusion of graphic (or pictorial) warnings on tobacco packaging.

References:
(1)
http://ec.europa.eu/health/tobacco/docs/eurobaro_attitudes_towards_tobacco_2012_en.pdf

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 813 No. 1

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