Nessa Childers MEP denounced repeated claims from the tobacco industry that plain cigarette packaging will lose the State money.
The tobacco industry has been opposing plain cigarette packaging on the grounds that plainpackages would make smugglers’ lives easier.
Speaking from Strasbourg today, ahead of this week’s Oireachtas debates on the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Bill, Ms. Childers said:
“The fear mongering argument that plain packaging will cost the State money is misleading, and it needs to be smoked out in the interest of public health.”
“The industry also claims that plain packs will be easier to fake, but plain packs will have pictorial warnings, not just standard letters in a box, which are as complex to produce as current, branded packs.
“In any event, counterfeiters are already extremely competent at faking industry branded packs, and it often takes forensic expertise to tell them apart.
“Moreover, packaging costs represent only 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.
“Data collected across the EU shows that smuggling is facilitated by corruption, inadequate law enforcement and geographic convenience, not by taxation or production costs.”
Ms. Childers, a member of the Environment and Public Health Committee in the European Parliament, who has played an active role on tobacco regulation over the past five years, also questioned the tobacco industry’s role in the black market:
“Big tobacco companies have themselves been found to play a role in tobacco smuggling and forced into court settlements but, even if we discount this, their argument against plain packaging is nothing but smoke and mirrors.”