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Plain Packaging Bill 'Commencement Date' Set For May 2017

Should the Public Health (Standardised Packaging Of Tobacco) Bill 2014 gain both Seanad and European approval, it will come into law on 20 May 2017, the government has said.

In the text of the Bill, which was presented to the Seanad on Friday, it says the "Act shall not apply to the sale, before 20 May 2017, of tobacco products manufactured or released for circulation before 20 May 2016, provided that on the date of their sale those tobacco products comply with the European Communities (Manufacture, Presentation and Sale of Tobacco Products) Regulations 2003 and the Public Health (Tobacco) (General and Combined Warnings) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 656 of 2011)."

The Bill promises stern action against anyone that contravenes the legislation, with a possible maximum conviction of eight years in prison. According to the Bill, it will be an offence for a person (or corporate body) to package, manufacture or import tobacco products that do not adhere to the terms of the Bill.

While not providing an exact description of how tobacco will be packaged, the Bill provides the Minister for Health with the power to prescribe the colour, font, size, positioning and appearance of brand names on packaging.

It also prohibits possible manipulations of the packaging, such as "audio effects or scents that have the effect of promoting the tobacco product", as well as "removable tabs", "fold-out panels" and inks that are "designed to appear gradually over time."

Commenting, Alan O'Kelly, Manager of Corporate Affairs for PJ Carroll (Dublin), said “We are disappointed that the Irish Cabinet has approved Minister Reilly’s Plain Packaging draft Bill. We are strongly opposed to plain packaging for our products. There is no credible evidence that plain packaging will work in terms of stopping children taking up smoking or encouraging current smokers to quit."

He called on the government to publish the Regulatory Impact Assessment it carried out on the legislation, "to show how it intends to address the black market and intellectual property issues associated with plain packaging or how Irish retailers and small business owners would be affected."

© 2014 - Checkout Magazine by Stephen Wynne-Jones

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