Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson welcomed the result of a vote in the European Parliament today endorsing the Tobacco Products Directive, European legislation seeking to improve tobacco control measures.

Speaking from Strasbourg Ms Anderson said:

“I welcome the result of the vote today which I supported. MEPs have overwhelmingly endorsed the agreement reached between the European Parliament and the Member States. It is a victory for public health that this directive will now become legally enforceable.

“Combined picture and text health warnings covering 65% of the packet, a ban on flavours such as chocolate, minimum sizes for cigarette packets and Roll Your Own packages and a ban on ‘lipstick’ packets are all measures which will contribute to the continued fight against the undue influence of Big Tobacco interests.

“Although I would of course have wished it to be more ambitious, these measures are a step in the right direction in protecting tomorrow’s generation from beginning a habit which kills one in two of its users. With 95% of smokers beginning to smoke before the age of 25, it is clear that action to prevent children and young people from starting to smoke is absolutely essential.

“The vote today has shown a strong endorsement in favour of public health over the profits of the tobacco industry and I am glad to see that attempts to weaken the agreement and delay the directive were voted down. These products are the direct cause of 7000 deaths in Ireland every year, a shocking statistic which still doesn’t convey the pain of the many others who continue to suffer from poor health.

“I call on Member States now to use this legislation as a stepping stone to further strengthen tobacco control. 100% standardised packaging must now be implemented by both the Irish and British governments to ensure that tobacco companies can no longer use the packet as a marketing vehicle to attract a new generation of victims.”