Press Release

Martin rejects criticism of Tobacco Policy

Mr Micheál Martin, TD, Minister for Health and Children today (17 July 2001) rejected criticism by Fine Gael that the Government is adopting ´Philip Morris policies´ on smoking.

“The insulting allegation by Deputy Shatter that the Government believes that it is cost effective to have a population that smokes should be withdrawn and he should apologise,” said the Minister.

Rejecting this criticism, the Minister pointed to his record since becoming Minister.

  • In March of last year the Minister launched the report “Towards a Tobacco Free Society” and following on from that a number of recommendations have been implemented.
  • The Minister has made nicotine replacement therapy available to all medical card holders who smoke since 1st April this year.
  • Significant steps were taken in July of last year when tobacco advertising, other than limited retail and trade advertising, was ended. Sponsorship by tobacco companies was also ended.
  • Additional resources totalling £1 million pounds have been made available to health boards this year to recruit additional staff to improve enforcement and compliance with the law in the area of tobacco control.
  • The age limit for sale of tobacco products to young persons has recently been raised from 16 years to 18 years of age and the maximum fine for persons convicted of selling tobacco products to underage persons has been raised from £500 to £2000 on foot of the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2001.

In addition, a new Public Health and Tobacco Bill to be published soon will introduce a range of measures to further the recommendations contained in the report “Towards a Tobacco Free Society.”

“I find Deputy Shatter´s attempt to link my policies to that of a tobacco company both shocking and insulting. His outburst smacks of desperation and marks a new low in his party’s attempt to besmirch this Government´s record,” said the Minister.