IRELAND must limit the number of cigarettes sold per packet to 20, according to a Cork TD.
Speaking ahead of the budget, Cork North Central Fine Gael TD Colm Burke said that controls in Ireland including the smoking ban in workplaces, taxation, plain packaging and advertising bans have helped reduce cigarette smoking in Ireland.
But he said: “Tobacco companies are constantly looking for opportunities to circumvent these anti-smoking measures and one way of doing so is by increasing the number of cigarettes sold in a packet."
He said that there’s currently a ban on selling less than 20 cigarettes in a packet, but there is no ban on selling packets containing greater than 20, with many companies selling cigarettes in packets of 23, 28 or 35.
"According to Revenue, sales of these larger packets now account for around 30% of all cigarette sales in Ireland," he said.
Deputy Burke, who is Fine Gael’s health spokesman, added: “Studies indicate that cigarette pack size is positively associated with consumption meaning larger packets, which are usually a little cheaper per cigarette, likely result in higher levels of smoking.”
In Tuesday's budget, it is expected that 50 cent will be added to the price of a box of 20 cigarettes.
Deputy Burke said: “We have introduced countless measures to discourage smoking, with Ireland making history back in 2004 when we were the first country in the world to introduce legislation banning smoking across nearly all workplaces, including pubs and restaurants.
"While the number of smokers continues to decrease, almost 6,000 people die each year from tobacco-related diseases. Legislation now needs to be introduced to prohibit the sale of packets of more than 20 cigarettes.”