Press Release

Much larger health warnings on cigarette packs a step closer – Minister Reilly on Government decision

The Government has today (Tuesday, 19th November 2013) approved the General Scheme for legislation to provide for much larger health warnings on cigarette packets. The Cabinet has approved the Heads of the Bill that will make it mandatory for tobacco to be sold in Standardised Packaging which will greatly increase the health warnings and reduce the ability of tobacco manufacturers to promote their brand.

The Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill 2013 will outlaw forms of branding such as trademarks and logos on cigarette packs and on roll-your-own packs and will determine the size and positioning of the warnings.

The Government has also approved the recommendation by the Minister for Health Dr James Reilly that General Scheme of the bill be submitted for hearings by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children for review and report.

Commenting on the decision Dr Reilly said “the Government is determined to implement this legislation, in particular for the sake of the children and young people of Ireland. Cigarette packs have been described as the last billboard for the tobacco industry; this legislation will force the industry to show with greater clarity, the potential devastating effects of smoking on health. As it stands the tobacco companies use packets of various shapes and colours to attract young people to take up the killer habit. Standardised Packaging – all the one type –with much larger warnings will be a deterrent. Today’s decision by the Government will also contribute to our goal of achieving a Tobacco Free Ireland by the year 2025.”

Minister Reilly added, “Unfortunately approximately 5,200 Irish people die each year from diseases caused by smoking. Fortunately many others give up but this means the tobacco industry must recruit many new addicts each year. Protecting our children and young people from starting to smoke is a key goal for me as Minister for Health. There is a wealth of international evidence on the effects of tobacco packaging in general and on perceptions and reactions to standardised packaging which support the introduction of this measure.”

Note for Editors

Smoking places an enormous burden of illness and mortality on our society with over 5,200 people dying every year from tobacco related diseases – one in two of all smokers will die from their addiction.

The following measures in relation to the introduction of standardised packaging were approved by Government today:

  • The drafting of a Bill for standardised packaging of tobacco in accordance with the General Scheme circulated last week, subject to any amendments that the Attorney General might suggest;
  • The publication of the General Scheme of the Bill; and
  • The referral of the General Scheme of the Bill to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children for review.

Standardised packaging of tobacco products will remove all forms of branding – trademarks, logos, colours and graphics. The brand name would be presented in a uniform typeface for all brands and the packs would all be in one plain neutral colour. Ireland’s standardised packaging will have graphic warnings and text selected from library of graphic images and warnings developed by the European Commission for Member States

There is strong evidence that standardised packaging will increase the effectiveness of health warnings, reduce false health beliefs about cigarettes and reduce brand appeal particularly among youth and young adults.

Government policy in relation to smoking is to promote and subsequently move toward a tobacco free society. Standardised packaging is one of a number of measures which will be implemented in order to reduce smoking in our society education and awareness, cessation services and extending the smoking ban to other areas are some of the other measures which are being progressed.

These measures are set out in the policy document ‘Tobacco Free Ireland’ which was launched by Minister Reilly this in October. The two key themes underpinning Tobacco Free Ireland are children and the denormalisation of smoking and the report sets a target for Ireland being tobacco free (i.e. with a prevalence rate of less than 5%) by 2025.