Sunday, August 17, 2014

Will Ireland defy tobacco giants?

Were this image from a 1930’s film poster it would suggest cool and sophisticated (though perhaps in the 1930’s cool didn't mean sophisticated). Be that as it may, the image is actually from the Irish Examiner website where it's meant to suggest sinister and harmful, and it heads a story that Irish prime minister Enda Kenny has got a letter encouraging him to scrap plans to become the second country in the world after Australia to impose plain packaging regulations on cigarette companies.

The letter is signed by 27 members of the European parliament, nearly half of them members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party. They say plain packaging legislation could threaten Ireland’s financial recovery, and according to an Irish Examiner editorial of 12th August,  the letter is a thinly-veiled threat.  Which is good news in a way as it confirms that existing tobacco controls in Ireland, and plain packaging already introduced in Australia, are working. The Australian regulations came into effect in December 2012. Clearly, tobacco companies fear that these measures might be replicated across an ever-more health conscious European Union.

The Irish Examiner’s main leader last Tuesday flew under the heading “Fighting the tobacco giants - Government should defy lobbyists”, and began “Tobacco conglomerates spent decades challenging the science that proved nicotine was addictive. They dishonestly spent decades rubbishing the science that identified their products as cancerous and the root cause of fatal diseases.”

Read it in full to be reminded of the issues. It concludes by urging the Irish government to press ahead with their plans to make it ever more difficult to sell tobacco in this country and to tell the German lobbyists where to get off.

Other links

Irish Examiner analysis piece, by their political reporter, 12th August
Wikipedia, for a history of plain packaging around the world, evidence, criticisms, opposition
From this blog

January 2013: Irish cancer report gives the lie to Big Tobacco 
September 2011: Australian plans to force tobacco companies to use plain packaging carrying graphic health warnings