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Home > Seanad Eireann debate. Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill 2014: second stage.

[Oireachtas] Seanad Eireann debate. Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill 2014: second stage. (17 Jun 2014)

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Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): I thank the Senators for beginning this Bill in the Seanad. It is appropriate, given that we have just finished another public health Bill which will protect our citizens, particularly our children, from malignant melanoma, which, as Senator Crown said, is highly preventable. The Bill we are now discussing is another that will lead to a great reduction in the incidence of cancers in this country, particularly lung cancer, which in the vast bulk of cases is entirely preventable.

  I will begin with a few quotes to give a sense of what we are dealing with here. "We don't believe it's ever been established that smoking is the cause of disease," "I'm unclear in my own mind whether anyone dies of cigarette smoking related diseases," and "I do not believe that nicotine is addictive." These statements were made, under oath, by the vice president of the Tobacco Institute, Murray Walker, the chairman of Philip Morris, Geoffrey Bible, and the chief executive of Brown and Williamson, Thomas Sandefur, as recently as 1994 and 1998.

  The tobacco industry has a dark track record of hiding the truth to protect its profits. Do not expect it to change now. Its internal documents clearly show its own scientists were warning that smoking causes cancer since the early 1950s and that smoking is addictive since the early 1960s. For five decades, the industry deliberately concealed these facts in an attempt to deceive Governments and the public of the dangers of smoking. Now, it is using bogus arguments about illicit trade to terrify responsible retailers into opposing this legislation. I believe its arguments today remain as bogus and as dishonest as they have been for the past five decades.

  The consequence of this legislation is clear. It will protect our children from marketing gimmicks that trap them into a killer addiction. If the tobacco industry did not get our children addicted, the industry would disappear within a generation. We all know that to be true and so does the industry. To replace the smokers who quit and, sadly, those who die, the tobacco industry needs to recruit 50 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 is clear that our children are targeted to replace those customers who die or quit.

  Research has shown that, when consuming cigarettes from the standardised packs which we intend to introduce, smokers are 66% more likely to think their cigarettes are of poorer quality, are 70% more likely to say they found them less satisfying and are 81% more likely to have thought about quitting at least once a day and rate quitting as a higher priority in their lives. This Bill will regulate the appearance of tobacco packaging and products. The aim is to make all tobacco packs look less attractive to consumers, to make health warnings more prominent and to prevent packaging from misleading consumers, particularly children, about the harmful effects of tobacco. The Bill will also implement some aspects of the newly adopted tobacco products directive of the European Union and it will give effect to Ireland's obligations under the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

  What is standardised packaging? It means that all forms of branding - trademarks, logos, colours and graphics - would be removed from tobacco packs. The brand and variant names would be presented in a uniform typeface for all brands, and the packs would all be in one plain, neutral colour.

  I will now take the House through the Bill section by section to clarify its provisions. The Bill is divided into four parts. The first part of the Bill deals with preliminary and general provisions and covers sections 1 to 6. Section 1 of the Bill makes standard provisions setting out the Short Title of the Bill, the collective citation for the Public Health (Tobacco) Acts and arrangements for its commencement……

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