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Standardised packaging of Tobacco Bill

Written by | 12 May 2014 | All Medical News

The Joint Committee on Health and Children has published its report on hearings in relation to the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Bill. The main aim of the proposed legislation is to deprive the tobacco industry of its ability to market itself through on pack branding. The powerful impact of this form of marketing has been demonstrated repeatedly in testing, especially with teenagers; if you take away deceptive and attractive packaging, the ugly and destructive effect on health is impossible to hide. One in every two smokers will be killed by their addiction. Given that 78% of those that start smoking do so before the age of 18, targeting this demographic could clearly yield massive health benefits

The Asthma Society of Ireland played an important roll in presenting to the hearings. Among our contributions were recommendations that the Quitline number (1800 201 201) be displayed prominently on packaging and that health warnings should be increased in size. Some of our input was referred to specifically in the report.  Our Advocacy and Information Co-ordinator Niamh Kelly gave her view on the results of similar Australian legislation and how that may relate to our situation:

…something that points to a reduction in prevalence is the tobacco industry’s assertion of the loss in revenue that standardised packaging will cause. If the industry did not believe this was going to cut the amount of people smoking, the figures would be much lower.

Asthma Society CEO Sharon Cosgrove was also called on to voice her opinion:

“The tobacco industry and other interests may argue that this legislation will cost the economy and reduce the approximately €1 billion in State revenue from the sale of tobacco products. Yet the costs of maintaining the status quo are much greater…It is estimated that the overall cost of smoking-related illness to the State is in excess of €4 billion.

Main proposals

The main proposals in the report are comprehensively worded in relation to any loopholes or avenues that may be pursued by the tobacco industry and conscientious in their regard for the well being of Irish citizens. The following is a brief run down of the main points

  • The use of trademarks or other marks on tobacco packaging will be prohibited. Health warnings will however be included.
  • Tobacco packaging may not be visually enhanced in any way, nor can it make noise or contain scents or features designed to change the packaging after sale (for example; heat activated inks, scratch panels and fold-out panels)
  • Cigarette packs must be a regulated dull drab colour with a matt finish and have plain white inner surfaces
  • The size of the general health warnings and combined warnings on tobacco packaging will be increased from not less than 45% to 65%
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