Europe gives the green light to Ireland’s standardised packaging plans

Health warnings on front of cigarette packets to double in size and include picture warnings

Statement by Dr James Reilly, T.D., Minister for Health

The new Tobacco Products Directive will support Ireland in introducing similar cigarette packets to those of Australia.

The size of the warning on the front of the packet will now double – from 32% to 65% - and will include a graphic picture warning on the front of the packet for the first time.

The previous directive only permitted picture warnings on the back of cigarette packets. This new directive requires picture warnings on both sides of the packet.

The size of the warning on the back of the packet will also increase from 45% to 65%.

The Directive also specifically permits countries to introduce standardised packaging – removing all trademarks, logos and marketing designs from the cigarette packet. The Government will publish a Bill to introduce standardised packaging early next year.

Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly, TD, today welcomed the news that agreement has been reached on the revised Tobacco Products Directive

“This Directive was a priority for me during the Irish Presidency of the European Union. I was delighted to secure the agreement of the European Council in just six months during Ireland’s Presidency.

"The evidence is clear: larger warnings with graphic pictures deter young people from starting to smoke and encourage smokers to quit.

“According to the World Health Organisation, in Canada the introduction of photo images on cigarette packs resulted in a fourfold increase in smoker’s intentions to quit (20% before 87% after). Also according to the WHO, in Brazil 56% of people changed their opinion about the health consequences of smoking after the introduction of the new packaging.

“This Directive supports Ireland in introducing similar cigarette packets to Australia

“There was intensive lobbying from the tobacco industry to reduce the size of the warnings to 50%. The Taoiseach and I wrote to the MEPs in the European People’s Party, the largest grouping in the European Parliament, encouraging them to reject this amendment.

“Tobacco consumption is the largest avoidable health threat in Ireland and the European Union. There are approximately 700,000 deaths from tobacco related illnesses in the European Union each year – 5,200 of them in Ireland.

“Half, or 1 in 2, of all long-term smokers will die from smoking related diseases. This is a stark statistic. There is no doubt that if tobacco were discovered today, knowing what we know about its lethal effects, it would not be a legal product.”

“I am delighted that final agreement has been reached on this Directive. Today is a good day for the future health of children throughout Europe.

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Press and Communications Office
Department of Health
(00 353) 1 635 3036/4159/4519/3042/4160

www.healthupdate.gov.ie