Ireland moves on unbranded cigarettes

Mar 03, 2015, 1:58 PM EST
Seized smuggled and counterfeited cigarettes to be destroyed are seen at a warehouse near Bucharest on February 23, 2015.

Ireland's parliament has passed legislation requiring cigarettes to be sold in plain packets, making it the second government to do so after Australia. Tobacco companies are threatening to pursue legal action. The U.K. is mulling similar legislation. Reuters reports:

Japan Tobacco International and Imperial Tobacco Group have announced they would take legal action against the move to ban the colorful logos used to sell tobacco brands but the government has said it plans to proceed.
The law was approved in its final reading in Ireland's upper house on Tuesday and needs to be signed by the country's president, widely seen as a formality. The government has not yet announced what date the law will come into force.
In a response last year to Britain's health department over its plans to introduce a similar law by May, Imperial Tobacco said plain packaging would infringe international law, could threaten future foreign direct investment into Britain and set a dangerous precedent for other sectors.
Following the example set by Australia, all tobacco products sold in Ireland will be in a standard dark-coloured wrapper emblazoned with large health warnings and images of disease.
Slim boxes of cigarettes, in lipstick-style shapes, will also be illegal under the reform.
Brand names will be small and use similar fonts on all packets in the marketing clampdown which is likely to be challenged in the courts, either in Ireland or under European rules.
James Reilly, Children's Minister and a former health minister who spearheaded the ban, said it was about protecting people and should be seen as a good day for the health of children.
"The interests of public health will be served when children decide never to take up smoking in the first place and if smokers are persuaded to quit," he said.
"We have a duty to prevent our children from being lured into a killer addiction.
"Standardised packaging will strip away the illusions created by shiny, colourful cigarette packets and replace them with shocking images showing the real consequences of smoking."