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No legal challenge on big tobacco planned

The issue of a possible legal challenge was raised by ASH Ireland when its representatives met with the Minister back in December 2016, according to information on www.lobbying.ie.

ASH Ireland met with Minister Harris in late December 2016 to discuss the possibility “of Government suing the tobacco industry for recovery of health related costs,” according to the group’s return on the www.lobbying.ie register.

A Department of Health spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI) last week: “The Minister for Health has no plans at this time to initiate a legal challenge against the tobacco industry in relation to the recovery of health related costs.”

Recent research from the HSE shows that there has been a significant increase from 3.5 per cent in 2003 to 24.6 per cent in 2014 in the number of people smoking roll your own (RYO) tobacco in Ireland. One-in-four smokers now use RYO according to the HSE research published last year. The HSE recently reissued its call for people to quit smoking as part of National No Smoking Day (Ash Wednesday).

The HSE QUIT campaign has been in place since June 2011 “and has proven to be one of the HSE’s most comprehensive and effective social marketing campaigns, prompting over 600,000 quit attempts since 2011 and provid- ing support to many thousands of quitters,” according to the HSE.

The HSE launched an enhanced website and the QUIT Team support service in January 2015, with a support team of trained advisors, available over the phone, by email, live web-chat or via Twitter or Facebook.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Health Promotion and Drugs Strategy Catherine Byrne has welcomed the news that tobacco products bearing the new standardised packaging are now available in some Irish retail outlets.

From September 2018 all cigarettes and all other tobacco products will have to be sold in plain or standardised packaging in accordance with the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Act 2015.

However, products using the new plain packaging can now be found in some outlets.

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