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Ireland

Proposals to ban smoking in cars carrying children

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-38531586

Plans to ban smoking in private vehicles carrying children are to be discussed, the health minister has announced.

Michelle O’Neill said it was “inconceivable that we continue to allow children to be exposed to such harm”.

In February 2016, Assembly members voted in favour of introducing the ban.

Similar legislation came into force in England and Wales in October 2015 and in Scotland in December 2016.

In the Republic of Ireland, a ban took effect last year.

The consultation will run from 6 January 2017 to 3 March 2017.

The draft regulations propose that the existing legislation, as set out in the Smoking (Northern Ireland) Order 2006, will be extended so that it will be an offence to:

• Smoke in a private vehicle with someone under 18 present
• Fail to prevent smoking in a private vehicle with someone under 18 present

‘Range of illnesses’

The minister said: “The health impact of exposure to second-hand smoke has long been recognised and indeed was the motivating factor behind the introduction of legislation to ban smoking in all indoor public and work places in 2007.”

The World Health Organisation recognises that second-hand smoke is a significant threat to health, particularly amongst children, who are more likely to suffer from range of illnesses.

The consultation will seek views on the proposed new offences, suggested exemptions and “views on how the new measures will be enforced”.

The Irish State has just sold its shares in big tobacco companies

It had been claimed that the investments made a ‘mockery’ of the State’s aim of a tobacco-free Ireland.

http://www.thejournal.ie/tobacco-investments-irish-government-2-3154386-Dec2016/

THE IRISH STATE’S sovereign wealth fund has just sold all of its shares in tobacco companies in a move to offload some of its ‘legacy investments’.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan announced today that the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (Isif) “has completed the sale of its remaining investments in tobacco manufacturing”.

Isif said its decision to sell off its legacy investments in tobacco manufacturing companies “is part of a wider review of the exclusion of categories of investment from the fund as a whole, which is due to be completed in early 2017″.

Isif recently told TheJournal.ie that, as of 30 September 2016, it had equity holdings in three tobacco companies with a value of €1.5 million. A spokesman for the NTMA said that the company also held €16.7 million in tobacco-related corporate bonds.

This is relatively small relative to Isif’s total investments. The organisation, which was established with remaining funds from the National Pension Reserve Fund (NPRF), has a total fund of €7.9 billion and expects to have about €3 billion of that by the end of 2016.

The NTMA’s investments in the companies are made through fund managers, rather than the organisation actively selecting the firms or industries.

Ethical investment

Isif’s ethical investment policy for armaments is mainly influenced by its commitment to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment, but this policy does not stop its funds going into the sector altogether.

Under the UN guidelines, Isif is required to carry out investments on an ‘active-ownership basis’, which means it does not have to rule out any companies as long as it works to improve their environmental, social and governance policies.

A law that would have banned Isif from investing in tobacco companies was recently floated in the Seanad by Fianna Fáil Seanad health spokesperson Dr Keith Swanick, who said that the state’s investments in tobacco companies “makes a complete mockery of the stated objectives of a tobacco free Ireland by 2025″.

The Department of Finance said that all of Isif’s investments since its establishment in December 2014, “comply with the fund’s sustainability and responsible investment policy, which sets out key principles for responsible investment”.

Tobacco control

Minister Noonan welcomed Isif’s decision, saying: “Ireland has earned a significant reputation as a leader in tobacco control and, as we know, tobacco use is a leading cause of preventable death in Ireland and throughout the world.

The legislation that established the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, provides that the fund’s investment strategy will be carried out in accordance with government policy. Today’s decision reinforces the government’s policy on tobacco.

He added: “Public policy is not fixed and can evolve, and the ongoing reviews by the Isif are opportunities to fine tune its investment approach in the light of relevant developments both nationally and internationally.”

This story was updated to include more information on the value of ISIF’s tobacco holding

Written by Paul O’Donoghue and posted on Fora.ie

Ireland’s investment body could be stopped investing in tobacco – but doesn’t invest very much in tobacco

The NTMA’s investments in the companies are made through fund managers.

http://www.thejournal.ie/tobacco-investment-ban-proposal-3107307-Nov2016/

A LAW HAS been proposed that would see Ireland’s Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) banned from investing in tobacco companies.

The proposal was floated by Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Health and Mental Health, Dr Keith Swanick.

Under questioning by the Seanad in October, Minister of State Eoghan Murphy confirmed that the taxpayer, through the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) and ISIF has equity holdings in three separate tobacco companies.

Swanick says that situation cannot be allowed to continue.

His Public Health (Prohibition of Tobacco Investments) Bill 2016 would make it illegal for the continuation of investments such as these and would ensure that no further investment in tobacco companies can take place with taxpayer’s money.

“This is a shocking situation and it is not tenable for the Government to turn a blind eye to these investments in tobacco companies. It is incredible to believe that the state holds investment in tobacco companies and it makes a complete mockery of the stated objectives of a tobacco free Ireland by 2025, the cornerstone of ‘Tobacco Free Ireland’.”

However, just 0.02% of ISIF’s total assets are invested in tobacco firms and, a spokesperson told TheJournal.ie, they may not continue investing in them anyway.

“Historically, exclusion has not been part of ISIF’s Responsible Investment strategy – with the only exclusions from the Fund being mandated by legislation. To date, the Cluster Munitions and Anti-Personnel Mines Act (2008) is the only relevant legislation and the ISIF operates a prohibited securities list of 19 companies on this basis.

ISIF management and the NTMA Board’s Investment Committee are currently reviewing the Sustainability and Responsible Investment Policy to examine the potential of adding to the list of excluded investment categories. This process is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2017.

In relation to investment in tobacco companies, on the basis of preliminary and unaudited figures for end Quarter 3 2016 i.e. as at 30 September 2016 ISIF had equity holdings in three tobacco companies with a value of €1.5 million or 0.02% of its total assets.

The state also has small equity investments in international companies involved in the development of armaments, such as Canadian group Bombardier, French firms Thales and Boeing, and the US’s Airbus Group and United Technologies.

The NTMA’s investments in the companies are made through fund managers, rather than the organisation actively selecting the firms or industries.

Tobacco is not a normal product

http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/letters/tobacco-is-not-a-normal-product-1.2875253

Sir, – I wish to respond to aletter from Forest Ireland

(November 17th).

Ireland is not a nanny state, as stated in the letter. On the contrary, it is an international leader in the fight against tobacco and nicotine addiction. Progressive legislation has been central to our success in reducing smoking prevalence by some 10 per cent in the past decade.

Tobacco is an addictive dangerous product that kills one in two of those who use it. This is not a normal product.

Regrettably, close to 6,000 of our citizens die annually because of smoking, and our health service spends well over a billion euro annually treating tobacco-related disease.

The only beneficiary from these dreadful statistics is the immensely profitable tobacco industry, which sponsors Forest UK, which is now linked to Forest Ireland. – Yours, etc,

Dr PATRICK DOORLEY,

Chairman,
ASH Ireland,
50 Ringsend Road,
Dublin 4

Plain packaging on cigarettes and tobacco due in May 2017

Health warnings with graphic images of health consequences to dominate packaging

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/oireachtas/plain-packaging-on-cigarettes-and-tobacco-due-in-may-2017-1.2816748

Plain packaging on cigarette and tobacco products will come into effect in Ireland in May next year, Minister for Health Simon Harris has confirmed in the Dáil.

The Government has been adamant it will introduce plain packaging despite threats from the tobacco industry of legal action and the loss of 87 jobs in Mullingar following the decision to close the Imperial Tobacco manufacturing plant.

Health warnings with graphic images of the consequences of smoking will feature predominantly on packaging.

Mr Harris was speaking as he introduced the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill – an amalgam of measures to amend four pieces of legislation relating to different aspects of health.

The Bill amends six sections of the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Act 2015 relating to the regulation of the appearance of tobacco packaging.

Reducing appeal

Mr Harris said the regulation of the appearance of tobacco packaging is aimed at improving public health by reducing the appeal of tobacco products to consumers, and increasing the effectiveness of health warnings on the retail packaging of tobacco products.

It will also reduce the ability of the packaging of tobacco products to mislead consumers about the harmful effects of smoking, the Minister said.

The Bill will allow the Minister prescribe “the colour of the outer and inner surfaces of tobacco packaging, the form and manner of barcodes and the manner in which a name may be printed on tobacco products”.

The legislation also amends the Irish Medicines Board Act 1995 to allow fees to be paid to board members of the Health Products Regulatory Authority, former the Irish Medicines Board, which licenses medication in the State.

Board members will be paid €7,695 a year, resulting in an overall additional cost to the authority of about €61,560.

The Minister said some members might choose to waive their fee and he pointed out that the “One Person One salary” principle would apply to members of the board who are also in receipt of a salary from the public service.

‘Onerous responsibility’

Mr Harris said he was introducing the changes because “there is an onerous responsibility and significant time commitment placed on members of the authority and we wish to attract the highest calibre of people to apply to be members of such boards”.

A separate amendment to the Nursing Homes Support Scheme Act 2009 will mean that anyone applying for the nursing home Fair Deal scheme will not have to include for means testing certain ex-gratia payments received arising from Government decisions.

The legislation deals with four Government schemes including three linked to the Lourdes Hospital – the hospital’s Redress Board which involved 119 women; the hospital’s payment scheme which compensated women excluded from the Redress Board on age grounds, affecting 47 women; the Surgical Symphysiotomy Payment Scheme which made awards to some 400 women and payments made by the government or the German Contergan Foundation to 32 Irish survivors of thalidomide.

Tobacco, alcohol and weaponry – here’s where some of the state’s investment has been flowing

The majority of the money is tied to Ireland’s sovereign-wealth fund.

http://www.thejournal.ie/isif-investment-alcohol-arms-tobacco-2-2950666-Aug2016/

ALMOST €35 MILLION in taxpayers’ funds is invested in the alcohol, tobacco, aerospace and defence industries through the state’s sovereign-wealth pools.

But new figures for the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), which oversees the nation’s investments, show the share of funds put into the sectors has been falling – declining from €45 million at the end of 2014.

The organisation, which manages the Irish Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), had a total exposure to the industries of €34.5 million as of June this year, according to new figures provided to Fora.

The bulk of the NTMA’s equity investments in the alcohol, tobacco and defence industries relate to the ISIF, which was set up with the remainder of the National Pension Reserve Fund after its predecessor was raided to keep the banks afloat during the financial crisis.

The ISIF has a mandate to make investments on a commercial basis, with one of its stated aims to “support economic activity and employment in Ireland”.

Its total portfolio was worth €21.3 billion at the end of June, with €355 million committed to support SMEs and another €447 million going towards venture funds.

Tobacco and alcohol

According to the NTMA’s recently published annual report, the state held more than €7.2 million in both quoted equity and debt instruments for Philip Morris, British American Tobacco and other major tobacco firms.

The state also has small equity investments in international companies involved in the development of armaments, such as Canadian group Bombardier, French firms Thales and Boeing, and the US’s Airbus Group and United Technologies.

The NTMA’s investments in the companies are made through fund managers, rather than the organisation actively selecting the firms or industries.

The report said the organisation’s largest single investment last year was in Irish Water, with a €450 million loan facility provided to the semi-state company – €300 million of which was drawn down by the end of 2015.

Ethical investment

Earlier this year, NTMA chief executive Conor O’Kelly told the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee that armaments is the organisation’s only restricted investment category.

The ISIF’s ethical investment policy for armaments is mainly influenced by its commitment to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment, but this policy does not stop its funds going into the sector altogether.

Under the UN guidelines, the ISIF is required to carry out investments on an ‘active-ownership basis’, which means it does not have to rule out any companies as long as it works to improve their environmental, social and governance policies.

In response to a parliamentary question last year, however, Finance Minister Michael Noonan revealed that the NTMA has excluded 14 companies from its list of possible investments – although he did not list the banned firms.

These exclusions were made to ensure the state complied with Irish legislation prohibiting the support of companies that developed cluster munitions and anti-personnel mines.

Meanwhile in April, the ISIF said it was committed to putting more money into medium-sized Irish companies over the next four years. The fund has made direct investments in mobile analytics firm Swrve and life sciences investment outfit Malin, among others.

ISIF director Eugene O’Callaghan revealed the sovereign wealth fund expected to pledge in excess of €750 million to Irish businesses and funds over the course of 2016.

This would bring increase its total commitments to almost €3 billion.

Written by Killian Woods and posted on Fora.ie

Sale of cigarettes from vending machines set to be banned

Details of retailers who sell cigarettes to minors will be published online

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/sale-of-cigarettes-from-vending-machines-set-to-be-banned-1.2757326

The Department of Health is to introduce on-the-spot fines for retailers who sell cigarettes to minors, and that information will then be published online.

New measures will also ban the sale of cigarettes from vending machines.

Following a public consultation, the department is preparing the draft heads of a Bill which will impose tougher penalties for those who sell the products illegally.

The proposed legislation will allow for the introduction of minimum suspension periods for retailers convicted of offences.

Name and shame

It will also allow for fixed penalties to be introduced and for those retailers to be “named and shamed”.

The proposals were first proposed by former minister for health James Reilly in 2014 but have been revisited by Minister for Health Simon Harris.

There is also a series of measures aimed at further regulating the sale of e-cigarettes.

Drink drive accused says e-cigarette put him over the limit

Scientific evidence to be presented in case against alleged drink driver

Evidence from a scientist is due to be presented next month in a case in which an alleged drink driver is attempting to prove alcohol in an e-cigarette put him over the limit, a court was told on Thursday.

The case is believed to be one of the first of its kind in Northern Ireland and a judge says he is looking forward to hearing the details.

Aaron David Galbraith, 35, of Dunluce Park, Ballymena , is charged with driving with excess alcohol in his breath at Tully Road outside the Co Antrim town in November last year.

Defence lawyer Stewart Ballentine told a previous court he wanted to investigate whether alcohol in an electronic cigarette accounted for his client allegedly being almost twice the legal drink limit and the scientist was drafted in.

The accused allegedly had an alcohol/breath reading of 65 – with the legal limit being 35.

Mr Ballentine also told the earlier sitting his client was “constantly using” an e-cigarette at the time of the alleged offence and was adamant he had not consumed any alcohol.

Ballymena Magistrates Court was told on Thursday the case will be heard next month.

District Judge Des Perry told a previous court he was very interested in the outcome of the potentially ground-breaking case.

At a sitting earlier this year the judge said he found the possible link to drink driving “very worrying because I use these gadgets (e-cigarettes) and I might be committing various criminal offences”.

The judge added he had never noticed any adverse effects from e-cigarettes but said over-indulgence is bad.

At Thursday’s court, Judge Perry who is soon to retire, added he is keenly anticipating the court case.

“I wouldn’t miss it,” he told the court.

Tobacco firms’ tax bill nears €500m ahead of plain packaging ban – report

Tobacco companies have seen their tax bill surge in the opening five months of the year as the industry has been accused of stocking up on branded cigarettes.

http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/tobacco-firms-tax-bill-nears-500m-ahead-of-plain-packaging-ban-report-34864203.html

According to a report in the Irish Daily Mail, tobacco firms have shelled out almost €500m in tax in the opening months of the year, which represents an 81pc increase on the same period last year.

The increased tax spend comes ahead of the imminent plain packaging ban. However, companies will be allowed to sell off whatever remaining stock they have left – branded or otherwise up until May 2017.

The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office show a major spike in the volume of cigarettes that are being imported into the country too.

During the opening quarter of the year 600 extra tonnes of tobacco were brought in.

Legislation that will see plain packaging introduced is being used as a method to deter smokers and children from being enticed by branding.

Anti-smoking groups have accused the industry of stockpiling branded cigarettes to get children hooked on them ahead of the looming ban.

Revenue has been contacted for comment by Independent.ie.

‘World’s ugliest colour’ used on cigarette packets to put smokers off

The shade, described as a “drab dark brown”, was found through a process of seven studies involving 1000 smokers

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/australasia/worlds-ugliest-colour-revealed-pantone-448c-a7076446.html

New plain cigarette packaging in the UK, Ireland and France will bear a colour deemed the ugliest in the world by researchers in Australia.

Pantone 448 C, also known as ‘opaque couché’, is the shade chosen as most likely to put smokers off, a group of academics and market researchers decided after three months of research.

Marketing agency GfK Bluemoon, who headed the project, conducted seven studies with more than 1000 smokers to design the most unappealing packaging possible, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The ugly brown colour has been associated with dirt, tar, and even death, without any positive adjectives, say the researchers, who were commissioned back in 2012.

“It had as its aim the antithesis of what is our usual objective,’’ said market researcher Victoria Parr.

‘‘We didn’t want to create attractive, aspirational packaging designed to win customers […] Instead our role was to help our client reduce demand, with the ultimate aim to minimise use of the product,” she added.

Pantone 448 C, also known as 'opaque couché'

Pantone 448 C, also known as ‘opaque couché’

The new packets, in Pantone 448 C with off-putting photographs, were rolled out in the UK on 20 May.

France and Ireland have also adopted the decision to end attractively-branded cigarette packets, which was pioneered by Australia in 2012.

The PM, his pro-smoking aide, and a dirty war over cigarette packaging

The sale of the plain packets is set to become compulsory in the UK from May 2017.

One in five adults is said to smoke in the UK and according to the British Medical Association, smoking costs the NHS £2.7 billion each year.