Nessa Childers MEP cautioned the government against the claim from tobacco industry champion and veteran RTÉ presenter, Bill O’Herlihy, that plain cigarette packaging will increase tobacco smuggling.
Mr. O’Herlihy has used his access to government circles, including Taoiseach Enda Kenny, to lobby on behalf of the tobacco industry in opposition to plain cigarette packaging, on the grounds that plain packages would make smugglers’ lives easier.
“This is a dangerous and misleading idea, and it needs to be debunked in the interest of public health”, said Nessa Childers MEP today.
As a member of the Environment and Public Health Committee at the last term in the European Parliament, Ms. Childers has played an active role on lobbying and transparency standards as well as on tobacco industry regulation over the past five years.
Ms. Childers, who is currently seeking reappointment to the same committee for the new European Parliament legislature, said:
“Big tobacco companies have themselves been found to play a role in tobacco smuggling and forced into settlements but, even if we discount this, their argument against plain packaging is just smoke and mirrors.
“Their argument that plain packs will be easier to fake is a bogus one. Plain packs will have pictorial warnings, not just standard letters in a box, and are thus as complex to produce as current, branded packs.
“In any event, counterfeiters are already extremely competent at faking industry branded packs, and can fool anyone but forensic experts.
“Moreover, packaging costs represent a small fraction of cigarette production, so this is just the industry’s latest attempt at misleading the public to keep on profiting from a leading cause of preventable death that claims 7000 lives a year in Ireland.
“In the EU, we know that smuggling is facilitated by corruption, inadequate law enforcement and geographic convenience, not by taxation or production costs.
“I wish Mr. O’Herlihy could put his public profile and PR outfit to uses other than peddling spurious connections that undermine public health.”
For more information – Bronwen Maher 087-784 1937