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Saturday 20 September 2014

Cigarette giant vows package ban war against State

Eilish O'Regan and Niall O'Connor

Published 11/06/2014 | 02:30

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Cigarette packets showing the effects of smoking
Cigarette packets showing the effects of smoking
A cigarette machine. THINKSTOCK images
A cigarette machine. THINKSTOCK images

THE State will have to compensate tobacco companies if it goes ahead with legislation putting plain packaging on all cigarette products, a leading tobacco giant has warned.

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A spokeswoman for John Player signalled it will initiate a legal war after the Cabinet approved Health Minister James Reilly's bid to publish the plain packaging legislation, making Ireland the first country in the EU to take the radical anti-smoking stand.

"People start smoking due to peer pressure and social influences and not due to branding. That is why plain packaging has not had any impact on smoking rates in Australia and it won't in Ireland either," she said.

Asked about expected legal challenges from the tobacco companies, Dr Reilly said: "I am absolutely convinced that this measure will work, all the more so because the tobacco companies say it won't and yet they'll fight it like hell."

Dr Reilly added that he expects the legislation to be passed by the autumn with another six months scrutiny by the EU. But he conceded this timetable could be delayed by any legal challenge.

Dr Reilly added: "Plain packaging will prevent younger people from taking up smoking."

Plain packaging of tobacco products will remove all forms of branding – trademarks, logos, colours and graphics.

The brand name will be in a uniform typeface while packs will all be in one plain neutral colour and include a picture warning about the dangers of smoking.

Irish Independent

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