Week Ending 8 March 2015
This week the Report and Final Stages of the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill 2014 were debated in the Seanad. I was delighted to add my name and voice to the other voices in this House. I smoked my first cigarette when I was 12 years old. By the time I qualified to smoke properly I was able to smoke 100 cigarettes a day. The great legacy that habit has left me is three lesions from coronary artery disease in my heart and, therefore, I owe the tobacco industry nothing. I have managed to give up cigarettes three times in my life. Once I managed to stay off them for 15 years, another time I stayed off them for two years and I am now off them since the year 2000. There is not a day of my life - when I walk into a shop and see the old brand that I used to smoke - that I do not think I will buy just one packet. There was something about having a cigarette in my hand and opening a packet that has never left me. I still see them. Thankfully, packets are now stored in a dispensing machine so I can no longer see great big packs of 20 cigarettes stacked up in front of me. I congratulate the Minister and believe that his plain packaging initiative will make a major contribution to Public Health.