EU rejects challenge to plain-pack cigarettes
Branded cigarette packs are to be banished from the shelves following a EU court ruling paving the way for plain packaging to be introduced.
The European Court of Justice rejected a case challenging the move which was brought by major tobacco firms.
It found the laws did not go beyond the limits of what is appropriate and necessary.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said yesterday: "We expect to commence the standardised packaging legislation shortly. Once we have a commencement date, prior notice will be given to industry."
Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco challenged the plan saying the European Union was overstepping its authority to direct laws in member states.
Ireland has already passed a law which would see tobacco branding completely removed from packets from this summer,
It allows for health warnings to take up as much as two-thirds of the packaging.
ASH Ireland welcomed the decision of the court to reject all three challenges. The court also allowed for the ban on menthol flavours in cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco. A third challenge brought by e-cigarette makers on special rules which cover their warnings and advertising was also rejected.
Dr Patrick Doorley, chairman of ASH Ireland said: "The decision to reject all three challenges by the tobacco industry by the European Court of Justice is to be welcomed.
"It is vitally important that the tobacco industry does not unduly influence legislation, and it is also very significant that this decision by the European Court of Justice means that the legal challenge cannot be taken any further. It was scheduled to come on May 20."
One in five people in Ireland still smokes and it is higher in deprived areas. Dr Doorley said: "Close to 6,000 Irish people die from the effects of tobacco related disease each year - with close to 600,000 dying within the EU for the same reason. These are dreadful statistics and the EU with the support of national governments must do everything possible to fight the scourge of nicotine addiction."