IRELAND will become only the second country to clamp down on tobacco marketing, forcing tobacco manufacturers to use plain boxes emblazoned with graphic images under tough new laws first enforced in Australia.
James Reilly, the country’s health minister and a GP, said the initiative will stop big cigarette companies from using marketing tactics like packet size, colour and style to attract young smokers, particularly girls.
Ireland follows Australia as the second country to legislate for the plain packaging of tobacco products.
Ireland has been at the forefront of efforts to curb smoking – it was the first country to stop smoking in bars and restaurants with a workplace smoking ban in 2004, followed by an end to the sale of ten packs in 2007, a ban on retail displays and adverts in 2009 and picture health warnings on packets this year.
Dr Reilly said while many arguments will be made against the move, he is confident the legislation will be enacted early next year and supported purely by the fact that it will save lives.
Under the reform, cigarette boxes in Ireland will be a generic size and colour, and will only feature the brand name on the bottom and a large picture showing the harmful effects of cigarettes, like rotting lungs.
The Irish Cancer Society and the Irish Heart Foundation welcomed the announcement, which was criticised by retailers and tobacco firms.
The big tobacco companies claimed the move will do more harm to the economy by making smuggling easier rather than stopping children from taking up the habit.
The UK Government has put similar plans for an end to branded cigarette packs on the backburner.