The country needs to continue in its firm stand against smoking, MEP Nessa Childers said today.
The independent MEP was speaking as representatives from the tobacco industry attempt to convince the Government that plain cigarette packaging is not required.
But Ms Childers, a member of the European Parliament’s Environment and Public Health Committee, stressed: ‘Plain packaging is indeed another important way in which we can help people, especially children, avoid the harmful effects of tobacco – by never starting in the first place.
‘Put very simply, big tobacco companies are selling products that kill people”
According to the Department of Health, more than 7,000 people die from smoking-related diseases every year, while providing health care to smokers costs the State €1billion annually.
‘These deaths and the massive cost to healthcare services are entirely avoidable,’ Ms Childers added.
The tobacco industry in Ireland, including PJ Carroll, John Player and Japan Tobacco, claim there is no evidence that measures such as plain packaging or graphic warnings dissuade young people from picking up the habit.
They also say that the move – which is support by the EU – will potentially cost Ireland jobs.
Ms Childers continued: ‘Predictably, the influential tobacco industry is once again resisting all reasonable suggestions of reform.
‘I only hope that the Government will not permit further dumbing down of relevant regulation and taxation.’
The Oireachtas Health Committee is today listening to Law Society arguments relating to intellectual property law, including that plain packaging undermines registered trade-marks and design that is specific to each tobacco company.