Ireland has become the first country in Europe, and the second in the world, to pass legislation requiring plain packaging for cigarettes.
This shows strong leadership, says the Cancer Council: Chair of Cancer Council Australia’s Tobacco Issues Committee Kylie Lindorff says the final passage of the legislation through the Irish parliament is a boon for the global fight against tobacco-related disease.
The legislation was unanimously supported in the Irish Seanad (Senate).
All the evidence to date shows the measure is working as intended in Australia with packs rated as less appealing and smokers having increased thoughts about quitting, she says.
Lindorff congratulated Ireland and the country’s Minister for Children, James Reilly, for standing up to the tobacco industry.
“Ireland deserves huge congratulations for being the second country in the world to introduce plain packaging legislation,’’ she says.
“This will encourage other countries to follow suit, particularly in Europe where the UK is due to have a free vote on plain packaging later this month.
“We can expect big tobacco to use the same tactics they used in Australia to try and fight this across the world.
“Their attempt to intimidate governments through the courts is only strengthening global resolve to reduce the estimated 5.4 million deaths around the world each year from tobacco-related disease.”
Quit Victoria Director, Dr Sarah White says a study published in the journal BMC Medicine last week showed two-thirds of regular smokers were likely to die of their habit.
“For Victoria, this means nearly 470,000 current smokers will die if they don’t quit,” she says.
“Plain packaging is another weapon in our arsenal to help them do that.”
“This is a triumph for public health and a huge defeat for Big Tobacco,” says ACOSH president Professor Mike Daube, who chaired the Australian Government’s tobacco expert committee that recommended plain packaging.
“The Irish Government has faced down the industry’s pressures, bullying and distortions. The ferocity of the industry’s lobbying shows clearly that plain packaging is their worst nightmare, as it deprives them of a crucial means of marketing to consumers of all ages. And they are clearly even more worried because it is working so well in Australia.
“Australia showed the way, but this is the vital next step we needed. Now a second, European Union member country has also legislated, we can be sure that other countries will follow,” he says.
“We know that several more countries are committed to plain packaging. I expect that within the next five years we will have at least 10 more—and like tobacco advertising bans, it will gradually become the norm around the world.”
PHAA chief executive officer and World Federation of Public Health associations vice-president Michael Moore says legal challenges will fail in Ireland as they did in Australia, where the industry lost so heavily in the High Court.
“This shows that even powerful and ruthless opposition can be defeated by politicians with integrity and strong public health coalitions,” he says.