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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill 2014 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed).

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill 2014 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed). (02 Oct 2014)


Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

 Deputy Pat Breen: I welcome the opportunity to contribute to the debate on the Bill. I note the presence of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy James Reilly. The purpose of the Bill is to control the design and appearance of tobacco products and packaging, meaning that all forms of branding, trademarks, logos, colours and graphics will be removed from tobacco products and that all tobacco products will be presented in a uniform plain neutral colour, except for the mandatory health warnings and other legal requirements.

Ireland is the first country in the European Union to introduce this type of legislation and only the third country worldwide, following Australia and New Zealand. I commend the Minister for introducing this important legislation. This was also the first country in the European Union to introduce a workplace smoking ban. While there were misgivings initially, there is now broad consensus that the ban has benefited public health care. The majority can see these benefits and support the ban which was introduced by the then Minister, Deputy Micheál Martin, for which I commend him.

The Irish Cancer Society claims smoking prevalence in Ireland dropped from 28.86% in March 2004 to 21.71% in December 2012, a decrease in smoking rates of nearly one quarter during these years. This shows that the advertising campaign has had a positive effect. The Irish Heart Foundation concurs with the Irish Cancer Society's analysis and reports that the smoking ban has contributed to a 10% drop in the number of heart attacks in the past decade. There are many risks associated with smoking and the link between smoking and various diseases such as cancer, stroke, heart problems and respiratory diseases is no longer disputed. Approximately 1,700 people die from lung cancer in Ireland each year and over 90% of lung cancers are caused by smoking. Some 1,500 people die annually from COPD, 90% of whom are smokers or former smokers. One quarter of deaths result from coronary heart disease, while 11 % of all stroke deaths are from smoking. The World Health Organization reported in June this year that there was a link between smoking and dementia. Given that smoking is bad for one's health, it is estimated that we are spending €500 million each year in treating smoking-related diseases, money which would be far better spent elsewhere within the health system.

While significant progress has been made, the battle against smoking wages on. There remains a significant number of people in this country who continue to smoke.

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