The Government has been warned to stop work on plain packaging legislation for cigarettes - or face court action.
One of the world's largest tobacco firms has warned that if the Government does not commit to stopping the legislative process by Friday, it could face a High Court claim for damages.
JTI Ireland owns the Benson and Hedges and Silk Cut brands.
The news comes as the Minister for Children Dr James Reilly prepares to face an Oireachtas Committee to discuss the overall issue.
He has responded to the letter from JTI by saying it is not his responsibility to protect the profits of tobacco companies.
Chairman of the health sub-committee deputy Jerry Buttimer said the Bill "sets out to control the design and appearance of tobacco products and packaging, meaning all forms of branding will be removed and all packets of cigarettes will be in a plain neutral colour, except for the mandatory health warning and other items provided for by law".
He said today's hearing was another step towards the legislation being enacted.
"We've heard from a wide variety of interested parties, including the tobacco industry...This Bill has been a long time in gestation (and) the Minister is very committed to seeing (it) being enacted.
"Our committee-hearing stage today will be another stage leading to the final stage in the Dáil.