We're not 'evil', tobacco companies tell Reilly
HEALTH Minister James Reilly has been asked by tobacco chiefs to instruct RTE not to rebroadcast comments he made describing the industry as "evil".
In a war of words, the Irish Tobacco Manufacturers Advisory Committee (ITMAC) also accuse Dr Reilly of making "an allegation most foul".
It asked that Dr Reilly "intercede" with RTE to make sure his allegation that cigarette manufacturers target children is never again broadcast.
It comes after Dr Reilly introduced graphic images on cigarette boxes to put people off smoking.
Launching the images last month, Dr Reilly said that the cigarette industry targeted children to replace customers who kick the habit or die from illnesses caused by smoking, with half of all long-term smokers dying from related diseases.
The horrific images of diseased lungs and rotting teeth will appear on newly manufactured packets and Dr Reilly described the industry as evil and said he intended to further restrict it by introducing unbranded cigarette packets.
The comments were broadcast on RTE Radio's 'Morning Ireland' the following day.
His comments led ITMAC secretary John Hall to write to Dr Reilly and accuse him of making "an allegation most foul".
He said the tobacco industry is "legal, legitimate and law-abiding and wholly conscious of and responsible in observing the laws that are designed to prevent such an activity taking place".
"On behalf of our industry, our employees and those thousands of responsible retailers throughout Ireland who sell our products fully in observance of the laws and regulations introduced by your department, we would respectfully ask that you do not repeat this allegation and that you would intercede with RTE to ensure that it is never again transmitted," Mr Hall added.
Dr Reilly's spokesman said the minister stands by his remarks and will be making no such request to RTE.
The national broadcaster would be likely to rebuff any such request from Dr Reilly in any case.
"He has called it evil and I'll bet he does it again," a source close to Dr Reilly said.
Dr Reilly has said he hopes the graphic images on the packets will shock smokers into quitting and prevent young people from taking up the habit.