Ireland may become the second country to require standardized packaging for cigarettes, reports the Kildare Nationalist.
Health Minister James Reilly announced government approval for his controversial plans, which he hopes to have enacted early next year. Plain packaging made its global debut late last year in Australia.
An Irish retail group cautioned the move would help criminals and fuel cigarette smuggling. Retailers Against Smuggling accused the minister of “not giving a damn” about independent retailers. Tobacco companies claimed plain packaging would do more harm to the economy by making smuggling easier rather than stopping children from taking up the habit.
Reilly said while many arguments will be made against the move, he is confident the legislation will be justified and supported purely by the fact that it will save lives.
Ireland has been at the forefront of tobacco control. It was the world’s first country to enforce a workplace smoking ban, which included pubs and restaurants, in March 2004, and the first EU country to remove all tobacco advertising from retail outlets.