Reilly insists plain packaging will help police illegal trade of cigarettes

The health minister said that introducing plain packaging for cigarettes will not help the illegal tobacco trade.

Retailers say introducing plain packets with larger health warnings will make it easier to produce counterfeit products.

However James Reilly said that is not the case.

He told an Oireachtas committee that most cigarettes sold on the street are of official brands, but just imported illegally.

"The argument has been in the past, nobody has raised it here today, that these will make it much more easy to counterfeit," he said.

"Nothing could be further from the truth

"And in fact this will make it easier to police the illegal trade as well because no other country in Europe is doing this at the moment, just us

"They will stick out like a sore toe."

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