Anton Savage: If big tobacco sues, then remember this is an industry which kills people

Anton Savage


thumbnail: Anton Savage
thumbnail: Cigarettes
Anton Savage

Big Tobacco is gearing up to sue the state if the Government goes ahead with plain packaging for cigarettes. They say it infringes on their intellectual property rights.

That's a euphemism for "hurts sales", yet they're getting support from the US Chamber of Commerce and IBEC.

Yup, that's right. The Irish Industry and Employers Confederation are standing shoulder to shoulder with the cigarette manufacturers.

They're hedging their bets slightly by talking about the likely financial exposure to the State if a lawsuit was filed (as if IBEC spends its time worrying about the State's legal liabilities) rather than saying anything overtly pro-smoking. But the end result is the same.

It's extraordinary. This is an industry which kills people. Lots and lots of people. It kills nearly half its customers. A lot of those it doesn't kill are left in a pretty horrible mess. And that's all it does. No redeeming features at all.

At least asbestos manufacturers made really nice corrugated roofing while killing people. Even arms dealers can point to hunters feeding their families, backwoodsmen fighting off bears and peacekeeping soldiers using weapons for peace enforcement. Cigarettes are unique - they just kill.

So the tobacco companies have said 'lads, plain packaging will hurt us'.

Instead of IBEC and The US Chamber of Commerce saying 'well chaps, you peddle death, so there ain't a whole pile we can do for you', they have lent their weight to the industry which causes more avoidable deaths than any other in this country.

Thousands upon thousands of Irish citizens will die this year, and next, from cancers of the lung, oesophagus, mouth, throat and everywhere else.

They will suffocate with lungs destroyed by COPD and emphysema. They will collapse as heart disease snuffs out their most vital organ.

IBEC and the US Chamber of Commerce are supporting the people who cause this.

You know what helps entrepreneurship and economic productivity? Workers who ain't dead. You know what would lower the tax burden by reducing health costs? Not having hospital beds stuffed with the victims of smoking. Maybe that's what the chamber and IBEC should support, instead of becoming fellow travellers with the nastiest industry on the planet.

Everyone has the right to smoke. I smoked, and I'll admit, loved it.

But the fact that people like me make poor decisions does not excuse those in positions of influence from moral responsibility.

There would be national horror if IBEC and the US Chamber suggested that drink-driving should be permitted to help with Anheuser Busch's profits. So why are we not equally horrified when they line up in support of the people?

To put it as starkly as possible; tobacco products will kill more people this year than died in 40 years of murder and violence in Northern Ireland.

IBEC and the US chamber wouldn't associate with the UVF or IRA, so one can only assume the acceptability of a purveyor of death is more to do with margins than morals.

Dollymount misses out

Tripadvisor has just published the list of top ten Irish beaches - and rather surprisingly Dollymount isn't on it. Sure it's no Curracloe or Inch but Dublin is one of the few European capital cities that has a beach - and t's not a total kip either.

So surely it should have made the top ten on those grounds alone?

Please, no more of 50 Shades

Right. It's made €1.3m and set new Irish box office records. Yes it has an Irish star in Jamie Dornan.

But can we now, please, please, please, stop talking about bleedin' 50 Shades of Grey.