Press Release

Martin responds to press release issued by tobacco manufacturers Gallagher (Dublin) Limited

The Minister for Health and Children, Micheál Martin, T.D., today (26 September 2000) responded to the press release issued by tobacco manufacturers Gallagher (Dublin) Limited concerning the ban on tobacco sponsorship from 1 July 2000. In the press release the tobacco manufacturers announced their withdrawal from sponsorship of the Benson & Hedges Irish Masters Snooker tournament.

The Minister stated that Gallaghers were informed at a meeting in October 1999 of the decision to ban tobacco advertising and sponsorship from 1 July 2000. Notwithstanding the introduction of the ban from 1 July 2000, as a special concession Gallaghers were given a full year’s sponsorship budget for 2000. This concession was designed to allow Gallaghers continue with their sponsorship of the Benson & Hedges Irish Masters Snooker tournament in March 2000 and to give the organisers of the tournament sufficient time to seek alternative sponsors for the future.

The Minister added that the ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship was implemented under domestic legislation.

“The battle against tobacco is one of the most important public health challenges to be faced and is one of my main priorities as Minister for Health and Children” the Minister stated. “Tobacco is a significant burden to individuals, families and society through death, illness and medical costs. Smoking related illnesses account for about 7,000 deaths each year in Ireland. I am particularly concerned over the reported increase in the level of smoking among children and teenagers. A complete ban on all forms of advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products is necessary if we are to reduce children’s exposure to inducements to tobacco products” said the Minister.

The Minister said that he has no apologies to make to the tobacco industry for introducing the ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship. “Ireland has, for many years, been a leading advocate for the world-wide control and ultimate elimination of tobacco use from our society. We were one of the first countries to introduce restrictions on tobacco advertising and sponsorship by the industry; measures that were later adapted for the whole of the European Union and which are now the gold standard internationally. We are also one of the first countries to recognise the impact of environmental tobacco smoke and to introduce prohibitions on smoking in public places. I believe that this is a proud tradition of world leadership and we are determined that Ireland will continue in this role” said the Minister.

The Minister added that he was fully aware of the popularity of the Irish Masters Snooker tournament and that he was prepared to enter into constructive dialogue with the organisers of the tournament to assist them in seeking alternative sponsors for the event.