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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answers 653, 654, 655 & 673 - Tobacco control measures [31096/14, 31097/14, 31098/14, 31416/14] [Plain packaging].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answers 653, 654, 655 & 673 - Tobacco control measures [31096/14, 31097/14, 31098/14, 31416/14] [Plain packaging]. (15 Jul 2014)

External website: http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/debates%20a...


 Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Health on the back of the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill 2014, if he has considered removing the maximum price on a packet of cigarettes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31096/14]

Minister for Health (Deputy Leo Varadkar): I wish to inform the Deputy that there is no maximum price applied to a packet of cigarettes in this jurisdiction. Tobacco Free Ireland, our latest policy document in the area, sets a target of lowering smoking prevalence to below 5% by 2025. It notes that research has found that pricing is a key tool in the efforts to control smoking and in particular preventing children and adolescents from taking up the habit. Higher prices have been found to induce current smokers to quit and to lower consumption among those continuing to smoke. Taking this into account, Tobacco Free Ireland recommends increasing annual excise duty on tobacco products price over a continuous five year period. In Budgets 2012, 2013 and 2014 increases in the price of cigarette and roll your own tobacco, in the amounts of 25 cent, 10 cent and 10 cent respectively, were both sought and received.

 

 Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Health on the back of research that shows plain tobacco packaging has led to smokers in other jurisdictions choosing cheaper brands, if any research has been undertaken to discover if there are health implications for such substitution among the smoking population; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31097/14]

Minister for Health (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Although I am aware that the tobacco industry has argued that standardised packaging will lead to smokers choosing cheaper brands, I have not seen any research that conclusively demonstrates that cheaper cigarettes have a greater impact on a person’s health, or that cheaper tobacco causes more disease than so-called “premium brands”.

On the contrary, I would like to point out to the Deputy that tobacco consumption, regardless of the price of the product chosen, is today the greatest single cause of preventable illness and premature death in Ireland, killing over 5,200 people a year; that smokers die on average 10 years sooner than non-smokers; that one in every two children who experiment with cigarettes goes on to become a smoker, and that one in every two of them will die from a tobacco related disease. In this context, my priority is to reduce the consumption of tobacco across the board, to meet our policy target of making Ireland tobacco free (i.e. with a smoking prevalence rate of less than 5%) by 2025.

 

 Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Health on the back of the (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill 2014, if he will consider introducing a minimum weight at which rolling tobacco may be sold; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31098/14]

Minister for Health (Deputy Leo Varadkar): The revised EU Tobacco Products Directive, which has been in force since 20 May 2014, states that “A unit packet of roll-your-own tobacco shall contain tobacco weighing not less than 30g.” Member States have two years to transpose the new rules into national law and Ireland will be introducing appropriate legislation in due course.

 

 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health his plans to increase the licensing fee for retailers to sell tobacco products from a once-off charge of €50 to an annual charge of €500; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31416/14]

Minister for Health (Deputy Leo Varadkar): As the Deputy will be aware, under current Irish tobacco control legislation, a retailer wishing to sell tobacco products, whether over the counter or from a self-service vending machine, must register with the HSE National Tobacco Control Office and be placed on the Retail Register for the sale of tobacco products. Under the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2002, as amended, the HSE may charge a fee as may be determined by the Minister for Health. To date this has been a once off fee of €50. The Government proposes to increase the Retail Register fee in the context of legislation to provide for the licensing of the sale of tobacco products as outlined in Tobacco Free Ireland, Ireland’s tobacco control policy. On Tuesday 24 June 2014, Cabinet approved a memo to proceed with the drafting of Heads of a Bill in relation to licensing tobacco products and non-medicinal nicotine delivery systems (including e-cigarettes). The new system will replace the existing tobacco Retail Register. Work is ongoing in relation to this legislation and as such details, including fees, are not yet available.

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