Plain tobacco packaging ‘a success’

The tobacco industry will mount a ferocious attack on Ireland’s plain packaging plan, a leading Australian academic has warned.

Plain tobacco packaging ‘a success’

Mike Daube played a pivotal role in the introduction of plain packaged cigarettes in Australia in December 2012.

Prof Daube, a key figure in the international anti-tobacco lobby since the early 1970s, said he had never seen an attack by the industry as ferocious as it had been on plain packaging.

Ireland hopes to be the first EU member to introduce plain packaging. However, nine member states have objected to the proposals — Italy, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain have all lodged concerns.

The Department of Health is currently considering opinions before responding to the European Commission and has three months to do so.

Tobacco giants are believed to be considering suing Ireland if plain packaging proposals are implemented.

The Irish Cancer Society had invited Prof Daube to Dublin to speak about the success of plan packaging in Australia.

Prof Daube, who chaired the Australian government’s expert committee that recommended plain packaging, said daily smoking rates in Australia had fallen from 15.1% in 2010 to 12.8% last year.

Currently, more than one in five of the Irish population smoke.

“We are seeing a dramatic decline in smoking and none of the dire consequences tobacco companies warned about,” said Prof Daube. “Their desperate efforts to undermine plain packaging have been completely discredited. It is a success story.”

The Australian government decided to introduce plain packaging in 2010. Prof Daube said the tobacco industry campaign was colossal but the legislation was passed in 2011.

The industry, which had warned that the move would cost Australia billions of dollars, subsequently lost a High Court action.

Prof Daube said the battleground had now shifted to Ireland and Britain, where arguments that had been disproved in Australia were being brought back to life again. “The tobacco industry will push this case all the way until the High Court says no,” he said.

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