| 8.3°C Dublin

Cigarette packs to lose all branding in bid to cut smoking


A GOVERNMENT move to enforce plain-pack cigarettes makes Ireland the second country to introduce such measures.

Health Minister James Reilly has received approval from his coalition colleagues to begin introducing standardised packs, which remove all forms of branding, trademarks and graphics.

Australia is the only other country to have approved such measures.

Dr Reilly said he is confident the move will save lives and help the "enormous burden of illness and mortality" smoking places on society.



More than 5,200 people die every year from tobacco-related illnesses in Ireland.

The tobacco industry has hit back, saying the measure will boost illegal tobacco sales and have far-reaching consequences for the economy.

Dr Reilly justified the decision by pointing to the tobacco industry's need "to recruit 50 new smokers in Ireland every day just to maintain smoking rates at their current level.

"Given that 78pc of smokers in a survey said they started smoking under the age of 18, it's clear that the tobacco industry focuses on children to replace those customers who die or quit.

"Standardised packing will removed the final way for tobacco companies to promote their deadly product."

He said plain packaging was one of a number of measures required to "denormalise smoking in our society". This would be boosted with cessation services and extending the smoking ban.

The Asthma Society of Ireland welcomed the move, saying that Ireland – with 470,000 sufferers – has proportionately the fourth highest rate of asthma in the world.

John Freda, of the Japan Tobacco International, said there is "a complete absence of credible evidence to demonstrate that plain packaging will lead to a reduction in youth smoking".

He said it would damage the credibility of Ireland as a place to do business, making international investors wary.

The Irish Tobacco Manufacturers Advisory Committee said the decision as a "great day for Irish criminals" and a boost to tobacco smuggling.