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Forest welcomes news that Irish government has no plans to limit number of cigarettes in a pack to 20

Thu 11th November, 2021

Forest Ireland has welcomed the news that the Irish government has no plans to limit the number of cigarettes in a pack to 20.

Replying to a written parliamentary question from Fine Gael TD Bernard Durkan, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said there was a "dearth of evidence" to suggest that "preventing the sale of packs of more than 20 cigarettes would impact on consumption or prevalence": 

"There are currently no plans to introduce legislation prohibiting the sale of cigarettes in packs of more than 20 at this time. 

"The ban on packets of cigarettes containing less than 20 cigarettes was introduced on the basis that cigarettes in smaller and consequently cheaper packets increases affordability for minors.

"There is currently a dearth of evidence to indicate that a measure preventing the sale of packs of more than 20 cigarettes would impact on consumption or prevalence. My Department will continue to monitor any emerging evidence on the issue." 

The idea to limit the number of cigarettes to 20 per pack was proposed last month by Deputy Colm Burke, Fine Gael Spokesperson on Health, who suggested that larger packets "likely result in higher levels of smoking".

Welcoming the Minister's statement, John Mallon, spokesman for the smokers' rights group Forest Ireland, said:

"As the Minister for Health says, there is no evidence that larger packs of cigarettes encourage smokers to consume more.

"Tobacco is a legal product. If there is a demand for larger packs of cigarettes convenience stores and supermarkets must be allowed to sell them.

"A ban on larger packs would be absurd because smokers would simply buy multiple packs of 20.

"Demand for packets of 23, 28 or 35 cigarettes would also be met by criminal gangs operating on the black market. 

"If that were to happen the biggest losers would be Revenue and legitimate retailers."

He added:

"If this line of reasoning was to hold it would also put at risk larger pack formats for other staples such as crisps, chocolate bars and sugary drinks."

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