Over-regulation of cigarettes threatens rule of law and Good Friday Agreement
As the MP for North Antrim, I am still reeling from the news that 1,000 jobs in my constituency are set to be lost with the closure of the JTI/Gallaher tobacco factory. The devastation that this will cause to the area cannot be overstated.
There are some who would see this as the inevitable fallout from the decline in smoking rates, but in truth much of the blame lies with the over-regulation of the tobacco industry, and those who championed it.
And it is these same lobby groups that are pressurising the Irish and UK governments to rush ahead with plans to introduce plain packaging of tobacco products which Minister James Reilly has recently stated will be debated in the Dáil on February 17.