The Irish Times reports that plain cigarette packaging has started appearing in Irish stores before the September deadline by which all packs will have to be standardised. Ireland is the third EU country and fourth worldwide to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes, after France, the UK and Australia.
Plain packaging is a policy with a demonstrable track record of failure as admitted by the French Health Minister. There is no credible evidence that plain packaging has an effect on tobacco consumption or smoking initiation. Instead, it undermines the ability of small tobacco producers who make niche brands to compete on the market, as they can no longer be easily identified by the smoker. Furthermore, it sets a dangerous precedent for government intervention by expropriating intellectual property rights without scientific justification..
Peter van der Mark, Secretary General of ESTA, said: “Plain packaging is not motivated by science or real concerns about public health, but by ideology and politics. Existing EU mandated health warnings must cover 65% of a tobacco package’s external surface which are quite obviously more than sufficient to inform people of the risks associated with smoking. The Irish government’s introduction of plain packaging is the hallmark of a paternalistic nanny state.”