Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson who helped guide the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) through the EU Parliament will bring her anti-smoking message to Schools in Derry today.
Martina Anderson said:
“I am very gratified at the successful passage of the TPD legislation through the EU Parliament.
“This directive contains strong measures which seek to limit the attractiveness of tobacco products to young people and children.
“While some MEPs have been exercised over the issue of minimum weight for Roll Your Own tobacco packages, a minimum weight of 30g was agreed in negotiations. Whilst I would have preferred a higher minimum weight, it is important that 30g was agreed as a minimum. These smaller packs, aptly known as ‘kiddie packs’ are evidently much more affordable and therefore attractive to young people who can easily buy them out of their pocket money. It is right that a minimum weight was set, addressing a key aim of this legislation – to reduce the attractiveness of tobacco products to children.
“Although I would of course have wished the TPD 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 – any other product with these catastrophic consequences would be banned outright. With 94% 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.
“This Directive is a vote 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 does not convey the pain of the many others who continue to suffer from poor health.
“This is the message that I will deliver to the children during my visit to Naíscoil na Daróige, Holy Family and St Eithne’s Primary Schools during my visit today.
“I will also be meeting key community builders at the Spring into Action event where I will listen to representatives from groups such as ZEST, HURT, CAB, Community Wardens and Community Restorative Justice. I hope, in my capacity of MEP I will be able to provide guidance and advice on EU programmes that would be of assistance in furthering the goals of these very worthwhile community focused organisations.”