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Support Irish Government’s Plain Cigarette Packaging Legislation

Note: World Lung Foundation united with The Union North America. From January 2016, the combined organization is known as “Vital Strategies.”

(New York, USA) ––World Lung Foundation today reaffirmed its support for legislation to introduce plain standardized packaging for cigarettes in Ireland. The Cabinet of the Government of the Republic of Ireland endorsed draft legislation, which now will go before the Irish Parliament. WLF urges Parliament to vote and pass the law as soon as possible.

The legislation would make Ireland the first European country to stop the tobacco industry from using pack color and design to appeal to smokers and non-smokers, particularly youth. This move will also stop the tobacco industry from using cigarette pack design to convey misleading messages about the relative safety of different brands when, in fact, all forms of tobacco are harmful.

The proposed legislation, which has been championed by Minister for Health Dr James Reilly, will remove all forms of branding, including trademarks, logos, colors and graphics from cigarette packets and brand names will be presented in a uniform typeface for all brands. As in Australia, all cigarette packaging will be in one plain neutral color, making graphic and textual health warnings more prominent on the front and the back of cigarette packs. The tobacco industry has already stated its intent to launch legal challenges to the law in the hopes of derailing this public health measure.

Peter Baldini, Chief Executive Officer, World Lung Foundation, commented: “We applaud the leadership shown by the Government of Ireland for putting a stake in the ground for public health. Clear threats of litigation and relentless lobbying should make it clear that plain packaging would be effective. If the tobacco industry screams, it probably works.

“In fact, a growing body of evidence from Australia is proving that plain packaging reduces tobacco use, countering tobacco companies’ erroneous data and spurious arguments. Once this legislation is enacted, the combination of graphic pack warnings and plain packaging will help encourage Irish smokers to quit and discourage youth in Ireland from taking up smoking. Countless lives will be saved in the coming years. We fully support the Irish Government in asserting its sovereign right to prioritize public health over industry interests.”

According to The Tobacco Atlas, 22 percent of male and female deaths in Ireland are due to tobacco. Annual cigarette consumption is 1,006 per capita. It is estimated that 31 percent of males and 26 percent of females in Ireland smoke cigarettes.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of mortality in the world today, and is responsible for more than five million deaths each year—one in ten preventable deaths worldwide. The implementation of graphic pack warnings and plain packaging is one of the main commitments under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to which Australia is a party. It is one of the World Health Organization’s M-P-O-W-E-R (W=Warn) strategies to reduce tobacco consumption. MPOWER strategies are endorsed and promoted by the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, of which World Lung Foundation is a principal partner.