Members will be aware that the Government adopted as policy as far back as October 2013 a Department of Health document “Towards a Tobacco-Free Ireland” during the period that James Reilly was Minister for Health.
One of the changes envisaged in the policy was the introduction of a licensing system for all retail outlets selling tobacco products, rather than the registration system brought in on foot of the Public Health (Tobacco) Acts of 2002 and 2004, a system that came into force in 2009.
A partial consultation ( the questions from the Department did not provide for commentary) on how a new licensing, compliance, and restrictions on availability and styles of outlets took place in 2014 which finally found its way into the Heads of a Bill in late 2019.
The fall of the Government delayed any progress on the pre-legislative scrutiny apart from seeking submissions on the Bill. CSNA has taken part in all parts of this process to date and have this week been notified that our request to present our views on the Bill have been noted by the Committee.
Our views will be based on our perspective as retailers and will have been formed from an intimate knowledge of our needs as retailers; CSNA is not the mouthpiece of tobacco companies or their distributors, their intervention and interference in this Bill is most unwelcome and is, we suggest, counterproductive.
There is considerable goodwill for our sector, built up particularly from the enormous effort that you and your staff have made during the pandemic, the same cannot be said for Big Tobacco.
If it is suggested by anyone from a tobacco company that they can help you with opposition to the Bill, your very best approach is to decline. They are not, and never will be, your friend.