Reilly says tobacco industry trying to delay planned legislationSunday 22 June 2014 22.39
Minister for Health James Reilly says the tobacco industry is flooding his department with correspondence to try to delay plans to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes.
Speaking on RTÉ's This Week programme Mr Reilly said "we've seen a ten-fold increase in the amount of representations to the Department and this of course is designed to flood our system to make it impossible for us to do our business - but it's not going to work."
Mr Reilly added the Government are "100% determined" to see this legislation come into place, saying "people understand the problem that tobacco is and the harm that it causes."
Mr Reilly said that targeting young people is key for the tobacco industry - and his Department's efforts to create a smoke-free Ireland by 2025 by getting smoking levels down to less than 5% of the population.
Alan O'Kelly, corporate and regulatory affairs manager at cigarette company PJ Carroll, said the tobacco industry believes that the proposals will not work and claimed that their impact or cost to the Irish economy have not been properly calculated by the Minister.
"Plain packaging is a hugely complex and risky piece of legislation that could have huge costs and risks to the Irish state. If you look at what's happened in Australia, the black market has risen nearly 20% after the introduction of plain packaging."
"When you look at a country like Ireland with has a significant issue with the black market already, this could make a bad issue a lot worse. And it's really important when we are looking at plain packaging that we assess all of these risks," he added.
However, Independent Senator Jillian van Turnhout dismissed these claims, accusing the tobacco industry of making bogus claims.
Ms van Turnhout added that virtually all cigarettes traded illegally were made by manufacturers rather than counterfeit.
Also speaking to RTÉ News Chris Macey of the Irish Heart Foundation said that Ireland will become a battleground for the international tobacco industry to stop Minister Reilly's plans - fearful that his curbs could take hold as the smoking ban did.
"All eyes in terms of tobacco turn to Ireland. We're very small but they know that plain packaging coming in here will have massive repercussions throughout Europe."