CHILDREN'S Minister James Reilly is forging ahead with plans to introduce plain packaging for tobacco - despite an unprecedented level of opposition from fellow EU member states.
The Fine Gael politician told the Herald that the measures will prove instrumental in reducing the number of young children who take up smoking.
A total of 10 member states have objected to the plans to introduce standardised tobacco products, including Hungary, Poland, Spain, Italy and Portugal.
The number has risen over recent weeks as concern grows across Europe that Ireland's initiative will have an adverse effect on the EU single market.
The European Commission this week told Dublin MEP Brian Hayes that the level of objections from our EU neighbours is unprecedented for Ireland.
The legislation to introduce plain packaging is due to return in front of the Oireachtas on February 16 - on the eve of Ash Wednesday - before being signed into law before the summer recess.
But despite the unprecedented level of opposition, Dr Reilly says he has "no intention" of amending the proposals.
"Nothing I have seen or heard from the submissions made to the European Commission has changed my view on the importance of this legislation," the Dublin North TD said.
"I see no need to amend the legislation on the basis of the observations lodged."