The Irish parliament (Dáil Éireann) passed a revolutionary health law yesterday that will ensure that all tobacco products sold in the coutry will be in a standard dark-coloured wrapper emblazoned with large health warnings and images of smoking related disease.
Brand names will have to be very small and use a limited set of fonts across all packets.
The law is likely to be challenged by the Big Tobacco companies in the courts, either in Ireland or under European rules. While Ireland is a relatively tiny market for these large companies, they must fear that if Ireland sets such a precedent, the rest of the European Union may follow.
Ireland is only the second country in the entire world to introduce such a ban, after Australia, and is the first in Europe.
Children’s Minister and former health minister, James Reilly who spearheaded the ban, said it was about “protecting people” and should be seen as “a good day for the health of children”.
“The interests of public health will be served when children decide never to take up smoking in the first place and if smokers are persuaded to quit,” he said.
“We have a duty to prevent our children from being lured into a killer addiction.
Slim boxes of cigarettes, in lipstick-style shapes, will also become illegal under the new law.
There have been significant threats of legal action against the Irish State by Big tobacco manufacturers.
Anti Smoking Spokesman, Ross Morgan said the Government and opposition politicians should be complimented for pushing ahead with the ban despite threats of lawsuits.
The law will come into effect when President Michael D Higgins formally signs the legislation into law. The date of this is yet to be confirmed.