Standardised/Plain pack cigarettes

The Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Act 2015 was passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas and signed into law by the President on 10th March 2015. Part 5 of the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016 amends certain sections of the 2015 Act.

On 29th March 2017 Minister Corcoran Kennedy signed the Commencement Order for the standardised packaging provisions of the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Act 2015. The signing of the order means that all tobacco products manufactured for sale in Ireland from 30th September 2017 must be in standardised retail packaging. There is a wash through period allowed for non-compliant products i.e. any products manufactured and placed on the market before the September date will be permitted to stay on the market for a 12 month period i.e. until 30th September, 2018.

Standardised packaging means that all forms of branding – trademarks, logos, colours and graphics – would be removed from tobacco packs. The brand and variant names would be presented in a uniform typeface for all brands, and the packs would all be in one plain neutral colour. The aim of standardised packaging is to:

• make all tobacco packs look less attractive to consumers;
• to make health warnings more prominent; and
• to prevent packaging from misleading consumers about the harmful effects of tobacco.

There is international evidence which suggests that standardised (plain) packaging can reduce the appeal of tobacco products, increase the effectiveness of health warnings and reduce the ability of branded tobacco packaging to mislead consumers about the harmful effects of smoking.

A guidance document for retailers, manufacturers and distributors of tobacco products, enforcement agencies and the public can be found here.

As well as providing for the standardised packaging of tobacco products, the 2015 Act also gives effect in part to Directive 2014/40/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 April 2014 on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco and related products.  The provisions of the 2015 Act which give effect to the Directive came into force on 20th May, 2016.