Fine Gael Meath East TD and member of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Regina Doherty, has said that representatives of the tobacco industry were deliberately disingenuous during their appearance before the Health Committee earlier today (Thursday).
“Despite repeated challenging, representatives from the tobacco industry insisted that they are not targeting children in a bid to replenish their customer base. This is despite the fact that the cigarette industry needs 50 new people to take up smoking every day if they are to maintain sales. How would this be possible if the industry wasn’t targeting children?
“It is well documented that the tobacco industry uses marketing and packaging to target young people. This fact is underlined by comments from a Benson and Hedges senior executive, who explained in 2006 how a particular packet of cigarettes was designed to appeal to young smokers.
“The tobacco industry representatives completely failed to uphold their contention that plain packaging will increase smuggling. I believe the industry is willing to say almost anything to protect its profit margins; we can’t allow ourselves to be fooled any longer. The Revenue Commissioners have been unequivocal in their belief that plain packaging will not damage their efforts to tackle smuggling.
“The cigarette industry claims that the proposed legislation will prevent it from communicating with its customers. First of all, I have no problem with that. Second of all, research shows that adult smokers rarely change brands. So are we really to believe that the industry is trying to communicate with existing smokers, rather than trying to encourage new customers to take up the fatal habit?
“I don’t think there was a single person at the Health Committee who believed a word spoken by the tobacco industry representatives. What we do know to be true is that one in every two smokers will die from tobacco related illnesses. I have four children and I don’t want the tobacco industry to get their hands on any of them.”