Thursday, 13 February 2014

Joint Committee on Health and Children Debate

First Page Previous Page Page of 20 Next Page Last Page

The Joint Committee met at 11:00


Information on Catherine Byrne Zoom on Catherine Byrne Deputy Catherine Byrne, Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke Senator Colm Burke,
Information on Ciara Conway Zoom on Ciara Conway Deputy Ciara Conway, Information on Jillian van Turnhout Zoom on Jillian van Turnhout Senator Jillian van Turnhout.
Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty Deputy Regina Doherty,  
Information on Robert Dowds Zoom on Robert Dowds Deputy Robert Dowds,  
Information on Peter Fitzpatrick Zoom on Peter Fitzpatrick Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick,  
Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher Deputy Billy Kelleher,  
Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan Deputy Sandra McLellan,  
Information on Eamonn Maloney Zoom on Eamonn Maloney Deputy Eamonn Maloney,  
Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor,  
Information on Dan Neville Zoom on Dan Neville Deputy Dan Neville,  
Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin,  

In attendance: Deputy Ann Phelan.

Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer DEPUTY JERRY BUTTIMER IN THE CHAIR.

  The joint committee met in private session until 11.05 a.m.

Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill 2013: Discussion (Resumed)

Chairman: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer Apologies have been received from Deputy Seamus Healy and Senators John Crown, Imelda Henry and Marc MacSharry. Deputy Kelleher will be late arriving as he must attend another meeting after being in the Dáil. I thank members for facilitating the postponement of today's start time until 11 a.m. given that there was a clash with questions on health in the Dáil.

Before we begin our deliberations on the heads of the tobacco plain packaging Bill, I remind people to switch off their mobile telephones or put them in flight mode. That applies to members of the committee, witnesses and people in the Public Gallery. I apologise in advance because I may have leave to speak in the Dáil at some stage.

As members and witnesses will be aware, this morning we will conclude our deliberations on the general scheme of the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill, which was referred to the committee for consideration before Christmas. We have had a very thorough and good examination of the heads of the Bill. This morning we will hear from members of the industry. It is important that we, as a committee, take time to deliberate on the matter.

I welcome the delegations from P.J. Carroll and Company Limited, John Player & Sons Limited, JTI Ireland Limited and Forest Éireann. I will name witnesses as we go along and they give their presentations. They are all very welcome and I thank them for being here this morning. I also thank them for allowing us to change the start time for the meeting which may have inconvenienced them.

Witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of the evidence they give to the committee. However, if they are directed by the committee to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and continue to do so, they are entitled thereafter only to qualified privilege in respect of their evidence. They are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person or an entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable. I remind members of the long-standing parliamentary practice and ruling of the Chair to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the Houses or an official by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable.

I remind members that we will conduct private business on Tuesday afternoon as part of our meeting then.

I invite Mr. Steven Donaldson, general manager, P.J. Carroll and Company Limited, to address the meeting and he is very welcome.

Mr. Steven Donaldson: I thank the Chairman and committee members for inviting us here this morning as representatives of P.J. Carroll to discuss the Government’s proposal on plain packaging. My name is Steven Donaldson and I am the general manager of P.J. Carroll and Company Limited. I am joined by my colleague, Mr. Ronald Ridderbeekx, head of corporate affairs for British American Tobacco in the UK and Ireland.

Founded in 1824, P.J. Carroll is proud to be one of Ireland’s oldest and best known businesses. Now a member of the BAT group, we currently employ 30 people, support the pensions of hundreds of former employees and indirectly support thousands of jobs across Ireland.

At the outset, let me say that we fully accept that smoking causes serious and fatal diseases. Therefore, we fully recognise and accept the Government’s right and interest in regulating on smoking and health issues. I also want to state unequivocally that in no way do we market our products to children. We fully support Government efforts to tackle youth smoking and we work in partnership with others to achieve this. We do not seek to turn non-smokers into smokers. There are 970,000 adult smokers in Ireland and more than 100,000 of them switch brands each year. Our business consists of offering quality tobacco products to these well-informed adults who make the choice to smoke. We fully accept that there is a long-term declining trend in the number of smokers and in the amount that these smokers consume.

It is our view that the legislation on plain packaging, under consideration by the committee, is a disproportionate measure. It will not achieve its stated aims but will risk a number of important undesirable consequences. I will address the following four points. First, the proposal will not reduce smoking rates or stop children from taking up smoking. In fact, evidence from Australia indicates there has been no change in rates of smoking even though plain packs have been on the market for 15 months. Second, the proposal will only benefit the criminal black market by providing a boost to an already thriving illicit trade in Ireland. Third, by depriving P.J. Carroll of our legitimately held trademarks - enshrined in Ireland’s Constitution and protected by EU and international law - plain packaging will damage Ireland’s reputation as a positive environment for business. It will give other industries cause for concern that their trademarks are not safe in Ireland. Finally, and crucially, there is a better way to achieve the Government's public health objectives. Proven measures such as a stronger focus on education, enforcement of existing laws and a ban on proxy purchasing can and will deliver results.

Last Updated: 09/04/2015 02:08:41 PM First Page Previous Page Page of 20 Next Page Last Page