ASH Ireland criticises delay in introduction of plain tobacco packaging

The 2014 plan will not be in place until 2017 at the earliest....

Smoking, California, San Francisco, 21

[AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File]

Anti-tobacco lobby Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Ireland has criticised the Irish government's delay in introducing plain packaging for tobacco products.

The criticism comes ahead of World No Tobacco Day, which takes place tomorrow, May 31st.

In a statement, ASH Ireland chairman Dr Patrick Doorley urged the Government to prioritise rolling out the legislation.

He said:

"This delay causes some concern, as the tobacco industry had made its intentions clear – it will do everything possible to thwart this health legislation.

"It is well established that the tobacco industry spend billions of euro annually on sponsorship, advertising and promotion of its lethal product – and pack design is central to the success of this massive drive to market and sell a product that kills one in two of its users".

Doorley noted that 6,000 Irish citizens die annually from smoking-related diseases and stressed that everything possible had to be done to reduce "this dreadful statistic".

Ireland was the first country to introduce a plan for plain packaging two years ago.

Despite this, delays in developing the legislation needed to implement it has seen the country overtaken by the UK, which introduced plain packaging on May 20th.

Ireland was thought to be set to do the same on that date, in line with new rules from the European Commission on the packaging, but it is now expected that legislation will not come into effect until next year at the earliest.

Doorley continued:

"A significant body of evidence, primarily from Australia, now totally justifies and supports the introduction of plain packaging. A review published in Australia in early March found that the implementation of plain packaging legislation 'has begun to achieve its public health objectives of reducing smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke in Australia, and it is expected to continue to do so into the future'.

"This comprehensive study was based pre-implementation experimental studies, post-implementation behavioural studies and the recent declines in smoking prevalence and consumption in Australia".