Dr Reilly said he lost his brother, a doctor and smoker, to lung cancer and his father, another smoker, suffered a stroke and was prematurely blind for the last 14 years of his life.
Ireland will become the second country in the world, after Australia, to remove branding from tobacco product packaging.
The cabinet signed off on Dr Reilly’s proposal today and it is expected legislation will be in place by early next year.
All forms of branding, including trademarks, logos, colours and graphics, will be removed from cigarette packets, while brand name will be presented in a uniform typeface for all brands and the packs would all be in one plain neutral colour. Health warnings will be given more prominence.
The Department of Health said there is strong evidence that standardised packaging will increase the effectiveness of health warnings; reduce false health beliefs about cigarettes and reduce brand appeal particularly among youth and young adults.
Dr Reilly was critical of the recent meeting involving the Taoiseach, Minister for Finance and Minister for Justice with the tobacco industry, but he expressed satisfaction with the substance of the meeting.
“The minutes of the meeting will show very clearly that all that was discussed was smuggling and nothing else,” he said.
“The Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance have duties broader than mine in relation to health. I can tell you this much – the fact that the cabinet has passed a motion to pursue a law to bring this bill in is sign enough for me that I have got huge support from the Taoiseach and the Government.
“For me as a professional, this (smoking) is something that is intolerable. We have to protect our children from it. As adults we make our own decisions, but when you are an adult and you are addicted it is very hard to give them up.”
Dr Reilly said the measure has been so successful in Australia that tobacco companies have had to release statements saying that their cigarettes had not changed in taste as many of its customers were complaining about the taste.
A fierce critic of the tobacco industry, Dr Reilly said the industry needed to replace those who have died from tobacco-related illnesses, one-in-two who smoke, with young people who start smoking.
Dr Reilly said he was certain that the tobacco industry would seek to challenge the plain packaging in the courts.
However, he said such a move would be a measure of their desperation and also of the effectiveness of the measure.
The Irish Tobacco Manufacturers Advisory Committee said the initiative was a huge boost to the illegal tobacco industry, claiming the proposed legislation would make all packs look the same allowing counterfeiters to produce all brands of illegal cigarettes with greater ease.
Dr Reilly countered by stating there was “no research, none” to back up assertions by the tobacco industry that plain packaging would lead to increases in smuggling.
“Let’s call a spade a spade. What would you call a product that kills one in two users? Purveyors of death – I really do feel very strongly about this. I don’t know any smoker who wants their child to smoke. How can we support this industry?”
ANALYSIS: The budget suggested the reasons for not cutting faster and deeper were political rather than economic
These are not good times for those of an optimistic disposition. At home, things have been grim for the best part of half a decade. In Europe, recession has returned and the euro’s foundations are still not built to last. In the US, politicians are putting recovery at risk as they fight over the federal budget.
The fighting in Government Buildings and around the Cabinet table in the run-up to Wednesday’s budget was far less intense than in Washington, and it was mostly for show. The Coalition partners met the budgetary targets they are obliged to meet under the terms of the State’s bailout, and they did so (again) by spreading the pain so as to minimise the risk of confrontation with any powerful grouping or those with vested interests.
Opportunity-in-crisis radicalism is not the way things are done here. Even the property tax, which is the most radical departure in the budget package, is designed to generate just €250 million next year. To put that in perspective, the cash raised from the tax will cover just one euro in every 280 the Government has committed to spending next year.
Clinton, Dublin, Garda Síochána, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Human rights, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, OSCE.
Up to 10,000 people are expected to take to the streets of Dublin in a weekend protest march against Government austerity measures.
Tommy McKearney, of Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes – one of the organisers – said the march would be a message to the Government that it was not elected to impoverish the people.
“Nor are they there to promote the policies of austerity across Europe by being the example of the poor peasant who would prefer to starve rather than refuse to pay the rent as we may have said in the previous century,” said Mr McKearney.
“We’re not going to tolerate that as a people. We will challenge and resist this drive towards impoverishing our people by austerity.”
Communities Against Cuts, the Dublin Council of Trade Unions (DCTU) and the Spectacle of Defiance and Hope are among the other organisers.
DCTU president Michael O’Reilly warned the Government was likely to introduce a budget that would further cripple the country for a sixth year running.
He said it was unacceptable that 300,000 people are unemployed and that 1 million are living in deprivation following the collapse of the economy.
“That is why we are asking people to join us on November 24 and send a clear message to Government Buildings in advance of the budget,” he added.
“We need to change direction and start focusing on growth and investment rather than destructive cuts.”
Speakers will include household charge opponent and Socialist Party councillor Ruth Coppinger and a spokesman from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
John Bissett, of Spectacle, said the march would also include music from a string quartet and puppets.
“I’m hopeful this will be provocative, interesting and helpful,” he said.
The campaigners have called for the Government to protect the poor on Budget day and to avoid the closure of local services, jobs and community projects.
They will also appeal to those taking part to picket the Dail on December 5, as a mark of solidarity against cuts.
NEUTERING DOESN’T work on every dog. Even though the undercarriage is gone, some continue to swagger around with that cock-of-the walk attitude, confident as ever.
Just like the bankers. They may have lost their “fundamentals” but that doesn’t stop them behaving like they still have them.
Right up to the bank guarantee, these blokes were strutting up before Oireachtas committees to insist: “Our fundamentals are sound.”
And we remember how people who are now in Government, but were in opposition back then, stormed away from those meetings, fuming.
They knew things were bad. They knew from their constituents that lending had dried up. They knew they were being spun a yarn.
But the bankers, oozing arrogance and condescension, insisted otherwise. We own them now, unfortunately. Right down to their shrivelled fundamentals.
Not that they seem to know it.
Yesterday, the bankers were under scrutiny again in the Dáil after senior public servants decided to tell them some home truths about their handling of the mortgage debt crisis. (Self-serving and delusional.) The Central Bank’s Fiona Muldoon was among them. Speaking at a Banking Federation conference on Tuesday, she told the pinstriped ones to stop acting like petulant teenagers and confront the issue.
Not surprisingly, the Opposition piled in behind her. If the bankers won’t face up to the consequences of their irresponsible lending, then the Government should force them to deal with people now unable to repay the loans.
He told the Dáil that, only the other week, he informed the Dublin Chamber of Commerce dinner that the banks weren’t doing enough. Oh yes.
Furthermore, the Government has regular meetings with the bankers through the Economic Management Council. And they’d be “well advised to sit down on a bilateral basis” and negotiate.
But they haven’t done it, chorused the Opposition leaders. Can the Taoiseach not see that? Did he not hear what Fiona said? She wasn’t the only one. John Moran, secretary general of the Department of Finance, also gave the bankers an earful.
But any day now, it seems, the fat cats will heed their Government masters and engage with the mortgage debt crisis.
That’s what the Taoiseach thinks. After all, he’s had harsh words with them, more than once.
One can only imagine the state of those poor bankers as they stumble across the road from Government Buildings for a hairshirt lunch in Patrick Guilbaud’s followed by an Armagnac or three for the nerves. “The regulator is barking very loudly, Taoiseach, and you are not listening to what is being said,” said the Fianna Fáil leader, a fluent canine speaker.
Shane Ross despairs for our trusting Taoiseach. Bankers can’t even lie straight in the bed. “They are involved in a policy to extend and pretend . . . denial, delay and deceit.” “Believe you me, Deputy Ross, they have been told in plain English what the requirement is,” insisted Enda.
But they don’t take advice, sighed an exasperated Ross. “You can’t treat these bankers as normal human beings.” Ate you alive, they will. Them and their phantom fundamentals.