Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health

General Scheme of the Public Health (Tobacco and Nicotine Inhaling Products) Bill 2019: Department of Health

Photo of Colm BurkeColm Burke (Cork North Central, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Chairman. My apologies for the delay in joining the meeting. To follow up on Deputy Durkan's remarks relating to packets of cigarettes, there is legislation stating that cigarettes may not be sold in packets of fewer than 20 but there is no law in respect of an upper limit. For instance, 30% of cigarette packets sold now contain more than 20 cigarettes. Those are the figures I have received. Is it not time to consider stipulating that cigarettes only be sold in packets of 20? If a person who normally smokes a packet of cigarettes a day buys a packet of 27, 28 or 25 cigarettes, is he or she not likely to smoke 25 or 27 cigarettes instead of smoking 20?

Finland will not allow cigarettes to be imported unless the health warning is in Finnish and Swedish. During the lockdown, the sale of tobacco in this country increased by approximately €150 million in 12 months, which gives an indication of the amount of product that is coming in. As people were not able to travel abroad during the lockdown, they were not able to bring in cigarettes. There is no restriction in real terms in the context of health warnings on cigarettes that are brought into the country. The health warning may be in English and Spanish, for example. Why can we not legislate to stipulate that all cigarette packets must have a warning in English and in Irish?

Another issue is the number of cigarettes people are allowed to bring in. The number is far higher here than in other European countries, such as Sweden and Finland, for example.


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