Dublin South West Sinn Féin TD, Seán Crowe, has welcomed the European Court of Justice (ECJ) judgements on plain packaging for tobacco products.

Crowe said that the decision has the potential to have huge positive and far reaching health implications, but he also said that the ISDS mechanism currently being discussed in the TTIP negotiations between the European Union and the USA would potentially negate and undermine decisions like this in the very near future.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“We know that 1 in every 2 people who take up cigarettes die from smoking related illnesses and an   estimated 5,870 people die from smoking related illnesses in Ireland every year.

“This unacceptable death toll, combined with other cardiovascular and pulmonary medical conditions, means that as a society we need to do everything in our power to discourage new people from getting addicted to tobacco products and to prevent the proliferation and accessibility of these products.

“Sinn Féin wholeheartedly supported the legislation that would introduce plain packaging on tobacco products when it was being debated in the Dáil and Seanad.

“That legislation was aggressively challenged by the tobacco industry in the Courts.

“I particularly welcome the judgements of the ECJ that were released this week, which uphold that the plain packaging Directive provides a legal basis for Ireland and other countries to introduce standardised packaging of tobacco products.

“The EU and USA are currently in negotiations around a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that could potentially undermine and negate positive decisions like this.

“The so called ISDS mechanism, which is being negotiated as part of TTIP, would allow massive multinational corporations to circumvent local and national court decisions and to sue Governments in a secretive international court.

“Decisions like these ones taken by the ECJ would be superseded by decisions made in an unaccountable tribunal. This would undermine initiatives like plain packaging on tobacco products and would ultimately undermine the democratic decision making of Governments.”