Minister for Health James Reilly will seek Cabinet approval today for plans to introduce plain packaging of tobacco products.
The Minister, who has come under fire recently for his handling of the medical cards fiasco, sees the legislation as necessary to 'remove the last billboard' for tobacco advertising, and limit access by young smokers to tobacco products.
Should the Dáil give the go ahead to his proposals, the legislation will move forward to the Seanad, and finally the European Commission and WTO for sign off.
Today's move comes, however, following a study that found that cigarette sales in Australia have increased since the introduction of plain packaging. Research produced by industry monitor InfoView, and published last week by The Australian newspaper has revealed that Australians purchased 59 million more cigarettes and roll-your-own equivalents in the year following the introduction of plain packaging.
According to a retail industry spokesperson, the increase in sales is thought to be down to the fact that smokers are now purchasing the cheapest cigarettes available and are returning for repeat purchases as a result.
“Talking to members, one of the most common refrains they get from people coming into stores is, ‘What are your cheapest smokes?’,” said Australasian Association of Convenience Stores chief executive Jeff Rogut.