Statement on Plain Packaging

Statement from Dr Patrick Doorley, Chairman, ASH Ireland on Plain Packaging


March 29, 2017.

ASH Ireland today welcomed the news that the Irish Government has finally signed the Commencement Order for the remaining provisions of the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Act 2015.

In celebrating today’s announcement  ASH Ireland Chairman, Dr Patrick Doorley, drew attention to the fact that Ireland has lost some time with the full roll-out of the plain packaging legislation, but emphasised the positive development that this last step in introducing plain packaging represents.

“The introduction of standardised packaging will remove the last major element of tobacco advertising in this country,” said Dr Doorley. It is beyond doubt that plain packaging reduces the attractiveness of the pack itself, which is a factor in discouraging young people from experimenting with tobacco products.

“For example, the introduction of standardised packaging in Australia has been hugely positive at every level, including the reduction of smoking prevalence among adults and children. In the two years following the introduction of plain packaging, smoking rates fell to an historic low of 12.8%. This is down from 15.1% two years before its introduction,” said Dr Doorley.

Dr Doorley also expressed his hope that plain packaging might come into effect ahead of the September 30, 2018 deadline.

“Even though the hard deadline for the removal of branded packs from the market is September 2018, we have seen in Australia and Britain that the tobacco industry doesn’t actually need the 12 month wash-out period to introduce plain packaging, and perhaps it will be introduced in Ireland before the 12 months are up,” Dr Doorley added.


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ASH Ireland welcomes new Board Member

ASH Ireland is delighted to welcome Walter (Wally) Young as the newest member of our Board of Directors.

ASH Ireland continually seeks people at board level who have the motivation and expertise to continue the fight against tobacco – and Wally’s reputation and vast experience from over 20 years as ASH Ireland’s council is well established.

Wally brings a wealth of experience from a long and distinguished career specialising in crisis media planning and execution.

He is a former head of Defence Forces Media Relations, retiring in 1996 to establish Young Communications.  He was engaged as Communications Adviser to ASH Ireland for 20 years up to 2017.

Some of his career highlights include working as Media Adviser (part time) to President Michael D. Higgins, having held a similar appointment with President Mary McAleese, whom he advised in the 1997 election campaign.

ASH Ireland is currently involved in a number of projects which can further reduce the impact of smoking and nicotine addiction on Irish society, and we will greatly benefit from Wally’s enthusiasm, knowledge and vast experience.

-         Dr Patrick Doorley, Chairman, ASH Ireland




Over €4,000 per annum can be saved by quitting

ASH Ireland encourages all smokers to try quitting this ASH Wednesday (Tomorrow 1st March). ASH Wednesday has traditionally been a day when people try to quit smoking and it is a good time to make the decision, as others will be doing something similar at this time.

Dr Patrick Doorley, Chairman of ASH Ireland said today; “It is well established that over 70% of smokers wish to quit and are often seeking opportunities to make the decision and proceed. ASH Wednesday is an ideal opportunity. Quitting will have an immediate positive impact on the smokers health and this will increase in the weeks and months ahead. There is also the economic impact of quitting; a 20-a-day smoker will spend over €4000 per annum on cigarettes and this can be put to so many other positive uses, such as holidays and day to day spending.”

Dr Doorley continued; “I would encourage smokers to contact the National Smokers Quitline on Freephone 1800 201 203, where assistance is available. Smokers can also use the various Nicotine Replacement Therapies, which are available in chemists, as an aid to quitting. We encourage any method that will assist smokers to quit and break the habit. Smokers should also be aware that most smokers who quit will have made a number of attempts before being successful.”

Regretfully close to 6000 people die from the effects of smoking in Ireland each year and it is imperative that all possible measures are taken to reduce this dreadful statistic. Dr Doorley added; “In this context it is important that the Government push ahead and ensure that plain packaging emerges on the Irish market as speedily as possible. The success of the introduction of plain packaging in Australia is well documented – after the ‘brand marketing packs’ were banished from the shelves. The benefits from the introduction of plain packaging in Ireland can of course begin much sooner than 20th May 2018; should the tobacco industry not insist on a 12-month wash-out period after the legislation is finally enacted.”

ASH Ireland welcomes new Board member

Statement from Dr Patrick Doorley, Chairman of ASH Ireland

Prof Shane Allwright has joined the Board of Directors of ASH Ireland
Prof Shane Allwright has joined the Board of Directors of ASH Ireland

All of us at ASH Ireland are very pleased that Professor Shane Allwright, formerly of Trinity College, has accepted an invitation to join the board.

ASH Ireland continually seeks people at board level who have the motivation and expertise to continue the fight against tobacco – and Professor Allwright’s reputation in this field is well established and recognised at national and international level.

Professor Allwright’s work as the lead investigator on a government commissioned study of the impact of the ‘smoking ban’ on the respiratory health of pub workers was the scientific platform on which our workplace smoking ban was introduced.

ASH Ireland is currently involved in a number of projects which can further reduce the impact of smoking and nicotine addiction on Irish society, and we will greatly benefit from the epidemiological experience and expertise of Professor Allwright in our ongoing work.


Statement from ASH Ireland – UK Cancer Research Report, published 7th February 2017

Dr Patrick Doorley, Chairman of ASH Ireland said: “ASH Ireland welcomes this report published today on vaping by Cancer Research UK. All additional research information on this relatively new product is to be welcomed, especially from well-established and credible bodies who do not have a vested interest.”

Dr Doorley continued, “It is particularly interesting that the research found that after six months, people who switched from real to e-cigarettes had far fewer toxins and cancer-causing substances in their bodies than continual smokers.  However it should be noted that there was little difference in levels between cigarette-only users and those who continued using real cigarettes alongside vaping.

“The study shows that when compared with full-time smokers, e-cigarette-only users had 97pc lower levels of one toxic chemical, NNAL, that is strongly associated with lung cancer. We must not lose sight of the fact that e cigarette users are still digesting a certain, if reduced level of toxic chemicals and we need longer term research to realise the full implications of this fact.”

Another 5,900 people will have died from smoking in 2016

Despite the reduction in smoking prevalence in recent decades, regretfully, close to 6000 Irish people have died from the effects of smoking in 2016.

Tragically close to 200 people will lose their lives on our roads over the same period and there will rightly be an outcry at this unnecessary loss of life – yet the remarkable loss of life associated with smoking is largely ignored. The World Health Organisation (WHO) confirms that close to 6 million people will die worldwide because on smoking this year, with 600,000 of those losing their lives due to the effects of passive smoke.

Dr Patrick Doorley, Chairman of ASH Ireland said today; “The New Year is a good time for people to consider quitting smoking and I encourage them to do so. Many people quit for good at this time each year. For most people they will make a number of attempts before finally quitting – so I would encourage those who have tried before to try again. People can attempt to quit on their own, or call the National Quitline on: Callsave 1850 201 203.”

Dr Doorley continued; “Not alone are there health benefits for those who quit but also economic benefits. A 20-a-day smoker will spend just over €4,000 of cigarettes annually. This is a significant cash outlay, which could otherwise be used for a range of alternatives, such as holidays, changing the car or a range of other options. The overall cost of smoking in Irish society is also quite significant; costing the state well over €1.6 billion annually, with €506m spent on direct healthcare costs. Quitting is all positive – there are no downsides. As nicotine is addictive smokers must be determined to quit – and thousands of people manage to do so each year.”

Dr Doorley continued; “There have been many positive developments in the fight against tobacco in 2016. In February we learned that the introduction of plain packaging by the Australian Government had reduced smoking prevalence in all age categories. In November ‘big tobacco’ lost its appeal against the introduction of plain packaging in the UK, where plain packs have already begun to appear on the shelves.


“In Ireland we have lost some time with the full roll out of the plain packaging legislation, however, the final legislative process will be completed in the New Year and it is vitally important that the Government then push ahead and get the plain packs on the shelves as a matter of urgency.”

ASH Ireland welcomes government divestment

Press Statement, 21 December 2016

ASH Ireland welcomes confirmation from Minister Noonan today (Dec 21) that, ‘Ireland’s Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) has completed the sale of its remaining investments in tobacco manufacturing’. ASH Ireland recently contacted the Minister on this same issue.

Dr Patrick Doorley, Chairman of ASH Ireland said; “We welcome this important announcement from Minister Noonan. The fight against tobacco, which kills close to 6,000 of our citizens annually, must be fought at every level and every opportunity. To invest in the tobacco industry, while also aiming towards a tobacco free society, was as confusing as it was unacceptable.

“All in the health sector will see the Minister’s decision as progressive and a important signal to an industry which manufactures and markets a product, which kills 50% of its users.”


Ban on smoking in cars with children

Here is the full response from ASH Ireland Chairman Dr Patrick Doorley when it was put to him by the Irish Daily Mail that no charges have been brought on ‘smoking in cars with children’ since its inception.


Dr Patrick Doorley, Chairman of ASH Ireland, said: “ASH Ireland has no information to suggest that the ban on smoking in cars with children is being ignored. We were first to propose this ban in 2008 and we are very pleased that it is now in place. Most people comply with sensible health legislation and we would expect that significantly less children are being exposed to tobacco smoke in motor vehicles since the ban was introduced last year.

“Prior to the ban, one in seven Irish children was being exposed to tobacco smoke in cars, which was totally unacceptable. We expect that research will be conducted shortly on the level of levels of adherence with the ban, and we would expect a positive outcome. ASH Ireland will be keeping this issue under review.”


Dr Doorley is quoted in today’s Irish Daily Mail article.


Smokefree Third Level Campuses could be the norm in Ireland


9th November, 2016: ASH Ireland today (Wednesday) organised a seminar at the Royal College of

Physicians, Dublin to explore ways of expanding Ireland’s smokefree third level campus sector.


Both Westport College and Athlone IT are already campus smokefree and both UCD and Trinity

College have commenced the ‘going smokefree’ process. Representatives of the third level sector

attended the seminar from all around the country with presentations from, Westport College,

Athlone IT, Trinity College and UCD.


Speaking at the seminar this morning, Dr Patrick Doorley, Chairman of ASH Ireland said, “This

seminar is building on the decisions already taken by Westport College and Athlone IT to implement

a smokefree campus policy.


“We want to encourage and assist other colleges in pursuing a ‘smokefree campus’ policy. In the

United States over 1700 third level colleges have gone smokefree and will remarkable success.


“Ireland has been a world leader in the fight against tobacco for well over a decade and we now

have an opportunity to take the lead in Europe with this initiative. Denormalisation is a key issue in

the fight against introducing a ‘smokefree policy’ in key locations is key factor reducing smoking

prevalence. We must also remember that tobacco waste is our biggest urban waste, so smokefree

campuses will reduce cost and create a much healthier environment for all.”


Also speaking at the seminar today, were Micheál Martin, TD, who as Minister for Health introduced

the workplace smoking ban; anti tobacco campaigner Professor Luke Clancy and Martin Murphy,

Stadium Director at the smokefree Aviva Stadium.


Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin TD commented, “The Smoking Ban still stands as an example of

what legislators can achieve for public health if we do the ground work, explain what we’re doing to

the public and then face down the vested interests.


“However, one important thing we need to guard against is any sense that the smoking ban was any

sort of an end point in the battle against tobacco.  It was an important breakthrough, but the

tobacco industry continues to work very hard and spend huge sums of money to find new

customers, and develop new ways to get those customers hooked on consuming their products.


“All those of us in politics who are interested in developing public health need to remain vigilant.  I

am particularly grateful to the team at ASH for their work in keeping these issues at the forefront of

debate and I look forward to working with them into the future to help Ireland keep leading the way

in the battle against tobacco.”


Today’s seminar is in keeping with ASH Ireland’s specific aims that direct its work towards the impact

of disease, disability and death caused by tobacco use in Ireland. This work is especially important as

Ireland moves toward the target date of 2025 for Ireland to become tobacco free.


Available for further comment and interview: Dr Patrick Doorley, Chairman.