Sunday 22 September 2019

Tobacco firm hired over 160 lobbyists - James Reilly

Dr James Reilly has introduced plain-packaging legislation
Dr James Reilly has introduced plain-packaging legislation

Daniel McConnell

One major tobacco company engaged 161 lobbyists at a cost of several million euros to stop plain packaging on cigarette boxes, Minister for Children James Reilly has claimed.

Dr Reilly is today addressing a major anti-tobacco conference organised by the World Health Organisation conference which is being held in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

In his speech to the conference, he will discuss the Government's move to introduce plain packaging in Ireland, despite the aggressive attempts of the tobacco industry to stop it.

"Despite their billions of euro and hidden connections, the tobacco industry can be defeated. We must rise to the challenge to protect our children from a killer addiction," he says.

He will tell delegates as to the extreme steps taken by the tobacco industry to fight plain packaging.

"It was only when the plain packaging directive made its way to the European Parliament that we saw the full power and influence of the tobacco industry," he says.

Leaked

"Leaked tobacco documents show that 161 lobbyists were hired and millions of euro was spent by one tobacco company alone. MEPs complained that the scale of the lobbying on this directive was unprecedented".

Dr Reilly said he and the Government were lobbied on a scale never seen before but public support "proved impenetrable".

"When the tobacco industry realised this, they changed tactics.

Japan Tobacco International, Imperial Tobacco and Philip Morris all threatened legal action should our legislation proceed," the minister says.

He will single out JTI whose legal letter which he describes as "especially aggressive".

Dr Reilly in his speech will quote from philosopher Edmund Burke who said: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

Irish Independent

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