Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 179 & 180 - Tobacco control measures [26225/14 & 26226/14] [Plain packaging].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 179 & 180 - Tobacco control measures [26225/14 & 26226/14] [Plain packaging]. (18 Jun 2014)

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179. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health in view of his comments recently that he expects the tobacco industry to sue the Irish Government when it introduces plain packaging for tobacco products; if he has identified and notified this as a significant economic risk to the Department of the Taoiseach for inclusion in the National Risk Assessment, if he has quantified the financial scale of the risk to the State of losing an action against the tobacco industry; the basis on which any such figure was reached; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26225/14]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): In its publication entitled "Technical Resource for Country Implementation of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Article 5.3", the WHO has outlined the various forms of tobacco industry tactics to interfere with tobacco control measures. Litigation and threat of litigation is one of the forms mentioned. These measures are often utilised as a means of delaying various legislative provisions from coming into operation and as a means of diverting resources away from other tobacco control and health promotion initiatives. Litigation also acts as a deterrent for other countries from developing and enacting new progressive pieces of tobacco control legislation. The threat of litigation should not be an obstacle to the introduction of important public health measures. I am of the view that standardised packaging for tobacco products is a proportionate, evidence-based public health measure which will assist, together with the other many initiatives outlined in Tobacco Free Ireland, in reducing the overall prevalence of smoking in Ireland. The introduction of standardised packaging has the support of the Government and has been considered and approved by Government.

180. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health if a regulatory impact assessment has been completed for the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill 2014; the organisations or individuals invited to participate in this RIA; the organisations or individuals that participated in this RIA; when the RIA will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26226/14]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): As the Deputy will be aware, the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill 2014 was published last Friday, 13th June. A Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) has been completed for this legislation. It is my intention that the RIA will be published shortly.

As the Deputy is aware consultation with stakeholders is one element of the RIA process. In February of this year tobacco industry organisations and retailer organisations were contacted seeking their views on the General Scheme of the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill. They were requested to comment on specific provisions contained in the scheme or to identify any omissions from the scheme. The results of this consultation process were considered when developing the legislation, where they related directly to the issue of standardised packaging of tobacco products. In developing the legislation I also considered the findings of the Joint Committee on Health and Children who invited and received submissions and met with many of the key stakeholders in this regard.

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