Press Release

“Legislating for a Tobacco Free Society” – Minister hosts international conference

Minister calls for removal of cigarettes from Consumer Price Index

Mr Micheál Martin TD, Minister for Health and Children, today (1 November 2001) hosts an international conference organised by the Office of Tobacco Control. The principal message at the international conference entitled Legislating for a Tobacco Free Society is that tough tobacco control legislation is essential and effective in reducing the numbers of people smoking, in particular children.

Over the past year the Minister has implemented a number of significant measures to reduce tobacco consumption in the population:

  • An independent Office of Tobacco Control has been established,
  • Free nicotine replacement therapy for low-income earners has been introduced,
  • Existing prohibitions on tobacco advertising have been extended to the print media with some minor derogations for international publications.
  • The legal age at which a person can be sold tobacco products to eighteen years has been raised,
  • Substantially more funds in health promotion activities have been invested and sustained information campaigns have been mounted,
  • Sponsorship arrangements, which are new and innovative for public bodies have been introduced.

The health boards have been provided with additional resources to enable them to mount a sustained inspection and enforcement service. Health boards will engage new Directors of Tobacco Control responsible for co-ordinating each health board’s response and for liasing with the Office of Tobacco Control, set up by Minister Martin earlier this year.

Future legislation

Most recently, the Minister has published a comprehensive Bill, the Public Health (Tobacco) Bill, 2001. This Bill will, among other things, end all forms of product display and in-store advertising and will require all retailers to register with the new Tobacco Control Agency. Ten packs of cigarettes will be banned and transparent and independent testing procedures of tobacco products will be introduced. Enforcement officers will be given all the necessary powers to ensure there is full compliance with the law.

“On smoking in public places we will extend the existing areas covered and it is proposed that I, as Minister for Health and Children, will have the powers to introduce further prohibitions in public places such as pubs and the work place. I will also provide for the establishment of a Tobacco Free Council to advise and assist on an ongoing basis,” said the Minister.

Consumer Price Index

Currently in the monthly Central Statistics Officereports on consumer spending, the figures include cigarettes. Fear of inflation has been a real impediment to increasing taxes on tobacco. The Minister called on IBEC, ICTU, employers and trade unions alike to move away from any kind of tolerance of the tobacco trade.

“We can no longer delude ourselves. We must exclude cigarettes from the considerations we address in central wage bargaining. We must price cigarettes out of the reach of the children those cigarettes will kill,” said the Minister.

“At one point in industrial history, cigarettes were a staple of the workingman´s life. So it was legitimate to include them in the ´basket´ of goods that goes to make up the Consumer Price Index. It isn´t legitimate to include them any more,” concluded the Minister.

Minister’s Address to the Conference