Letters obtained by the Irish Examiner revealed this week that 27 MEPs wrote to Enda Kenny claiming the plans would “open the door” to illicit trade and “restrict” fair competition.
The Taxpayers Association of Europe, a lobby group, also warned the Taoiseach that Ireland’s plain packaging tobacco plans would result in “extensive” tax losses and would pose a “threat” to the state’s finances.
The German Advertising Federation told the Irish ambassador in Berlin that the economic implications of plain packaging would be “devastating” for Irish companies, while the German Brand Association said the country would be “swamped” with counterfeit tobacco products.
Ireland is pledging to be the first EU member to introduce uniform packaging for cigarette and tobacco products. Tobacco sales raised €1.4bn in taxes here in 2012.
“These parliamentarians very clearly represent the interests of the tobacco industry and should be resisted at every level,” said Dr Ross Morgan, chairperson of anti-smoking group ASH Ireland.
The Irish Cancer Society also rounded on the MEPs. Kathleen O’Meara, head of advocacy, said: “All of the claims about the illicit trade, job losses and slowing Ireland’s recovery are totally without foundation and signal desperation on the part of Big Tobacco.”