NFRN Ireland calls on EU Health Commissioner to clarify position on plain packaging 

Examples of plain packaging

62% of people in Ireland support NFRN Ireland’s call for postponement of the introduction of plain packaging in favour of alternative approaches

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20 January 2015 | 0

Ireland’s newsagents are calling on the Department of Health to postpone its plans for plain packaging, which lack public support, while new evidence from Australia shows the policy there is having no impact.

This follows a survey conducted by Amárach Research in late November 2014 which found that 62% of people in Ireland support NFRN Ireland’s call for postponement of the introduction of plain packaging in favour of alternative approaches, such as youth education. 73% of people indicated that they felt plain packaging makes it easier to create counterfeits and 58% felt plain packaging will not reduce smoking levels.

Further, recently published data at state level in Australia shows that in five of Australia’s largest states, making up 95% of the country’s total population (New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia), the introduction of plain packaging in 2012 has not led to any statistically significant change in smoking rates.

Evidence from Australia strongly suggests that plain packaging and the illegal trade are linked. The illegal importation of tobacco in Australia has soared from 0.5 million kilos in 2012 to 1.3 million kilos in 2014.

NFRN Ireland members fear that plain packaging in Ireland will further increase the illegal trade in tobacco products.

Now, it is calling on EU Health Commissioner Mr Vytenis Andriukaitis, who is visiting Ireland this week, to clarify his and the European Commission’s views on the government’s plans.

NFRN Ireland’s Deirdre Drennan said: “NFRN Ireland will support the Government in introducing evidence based policies that will reduce smoking and improve public health. There is neither evidence to justify, nor public support for, plain packaging of cigarettes. The only likely outcome that seems certain from it is an increase in illegal trade which already has an enormous impact on the income of retailers.”

 

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