Irish retailers stocked up heavily on tobacco products prior to the introduction of plain packaging legislation, according to a Reuters report on Ireland’s tax take. Plain packaging is an anti-competitive measure that requires tobacco products to be sold in packs with a plain, neutral color, free of any manufacturer branding. The Irish law entered into force on 30 September but allows already existing branded products to be sold for a further year. The stocking by retailers led to an increase in excise duty income that helped Ireland meet its revenue targets this year, the report noted.
Plain packaging is justified by authorities on the false premise that it impacts smoking initiation. This is not based on evidence or fact. On the contrary, plain packaging has been seen in practice to squeeze out smaller tobacco producers who cannot differentiate their products, leading to greater consolidation in the market in the hands of a few large players with the biggest name brands.
“There is no evidence that plain packaging prevents young people from taking up smoking,” ESTA Secretary General Peter van der Mark said. “But by eliminating product differentiation, plain packaging laws undermine local, often family-owned, businesses, leading to greater market concentration while doing nothing to further public health goals.”