Standardised Packaging of Tobacco to be signed into law, to come into force in September

29 March 2017:

Part of efforts to have Ireland tobacco free by 2025

Minister for Health, Simon Harris and Minister of State, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy today announced that the legislation for the standardised packaging of tobacco is to come into force in September 2017. This follows the signing of the commencement order today by Minister Corcoran Kennedy for the standardised packaging provisions of the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Act 2015.

The aim of standardised packaging is to make all tobacco packs look less attractive to consumers, to make health warnings more prominent and to prevent packaging from misleading consumers about the harmful effects of tobacco.

The signing of this order means that all tobacco products manufactured for sale in Ireland from 30th September 2017 must be in standardised retail packaging. There will be a wash through period allowed, meaning any products manufactured and placed on the market before the September date will be permitted to stay on the market for a 12 month period (i.e. until 30th September, 2018).
Standardised packaging means that:

  • all forms of branding – trademarks, logos, colours and graphics – are to be removed from tobacco packs,
  • The brand and variant names would be presented in a uniform typeface for all brands and
  • the packs would all be in one plain neutral colour.

Minister Harris said “Smoking is a significant cause of ill-health in Ireland. Almost 6,000 people die from tobacco related disease and tobacco use. That is 6,000 families who go through the pain of losing a loved one when the stark reality is that these deaths are unnecessary and avoidable. It has been estimated to cost Irish society a total of €10.7 billion annually in healthcare, productivity and other costs. The Government is committed to changing that and standardised packaging of tobacco products is one such evidence-based measure that will assist in achieving our overarching goal of having Ireland tobacco free by 2025″.

Minister Corcoran Kennedy said “The tobacco pack is the last advertising medium for the tobacco industry in Ireland and so is a critically important form of promotion. Standardised packaging is the next step in tackling the promotion and advertising of tobacco. There is strong evidence emerging from Australia, that introducing standardised packaging is both effective and proportionate in reducing the toll of tobacco use on the population. Research has shown that younger people are more influenced by brands. Ireland has the lowest age of children starting to smoke among all the EU Member States and almost 80% of smokers in Ireland start when they are children. Standardised packaging will reduce the attractiveness of tobacco products and forms a key part of Ireland’s strategy to reduce tobacco use, particularly uptake among children and young people.”

Minister Corcoran Kennedy and Minister Harris paid tribute to their colleague Dr James Reilly for initiating this process when he was health minister. The Ministers also thanked the Non-Governmental Organisations for their continued support for this initiative.

Notes to Editors

  • The development of legislation for the introduction of standardised packaging for tobacco products is one of the key actions identified in the 2013 Tobacco Free Ireland policy document. Tobacco Free Ireland sets a target for Ireland to be tobacco free by 2025. In practice, this will mean a smoking prevalence rate of less than 5%. The current daily smoking rate for those aged 15 and over is 19%. The two key themes underpinning the policy are protecting children and the denormalisation of smoking. The policy addresses a range of tobacco control issues and initiatives and contains over 60 recommendations, including the introduction of standardised packaging of tobacco products. It was the first policy document to be published under the Healthy Ireland Framework. The introduction of standardised packaging for tobacco advances Ireland in meeting the obligations set out in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
  • Ireland now joins Australia, the United Kingdom and France in having such legislation enter into force.