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The Word on the Week

Smoking Gun

The tobacco industry has ganged up against the Irish Government’s draft Bill to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes. A smoking gun has been metaphorically put to the Taoiseach’s head. So far he has not blinked!

It was appropriate that the last debate in the Dial took place on Ash Wednesday! The tobacco industry has enlisted the support of the US Chamber of Commerce and the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC) to lobby on their behalf. In addition we have had various representations from US Politicians and those involved in the tobacco industry here in Ireland, all raising their voices in support.

The deadline given to the government to withdraw the Bill was yesterday so we can expect it to be legally challenged.

In fact the tobacco industry have already engaged one of our top legal firm’s who have got themselves into hot water as they also represent the Health Board and many hospitals!

The Industry argues that the government would lose tax revenue as the sales of cigarettes fall. This can be countered by the savings in treating fewer lung cancer victims. Another argument was the name on the packet helped to prevent smuggling but no-one buys into that one.

It seems that Ireland has become the test case for many other countries who wish to introduce plain packaging but have hesitated to take on such a powerful industry.

Ever since David and Goliath we have enjoyed a contest where the odds are stacked against the underdog. In David the shepherd boy’s case he was but a youth facing a mighty fighting machine of a giant. However he was the Lord’s anointed who came out of obscurity, was scorned by his brothers, refused to put on the king’s armour – the trappings of worldly power, but relied on God’s protection and putting his life on the line defeated the evil one and inherited the Kingdom (1Samuel Chapter 17).

You might say that David was a type of Christ who not only put his life on the line but laid it down in order to destroy the works of the devil (1John Chapter 3 verse 8).

In the fight with the tobacco industry we need to hear St Paul’s advice to Timothy and pray for those in authority (1Timothy Chapter 2 verse 1) that the cancer of sin and the cancer of the lungs may be defeated.