There are concerns locally that an EU proposal on tobacco products will put 120 jobs at risk in Mullingar.
In its draft Tobacco Products Directive, the EU is proposing to increase the minimum size of tobacco pouches from 15 to 40 grammes.
However, local politicians are fearful that the proposal will have a negative impact on the Mullingar-based Imperial Tobacco factory, which has been in business in the town since 1967.
“The Government doesn’t have to accept this directive,” said Cllr Paddy Hill, speaking at Monday’s county council meeting.
“I personally wouldn’t have a lot of time for tobacco, but I would ask the council to write to the relevant Government Minister to ask them not to accept it.”
Cllr Ken Glynn supported him, saying the EU proposal would mean a 53 per cent reduction on the factory’s production line, costing over 60 jobs.
“They are a long-term employer. Getting rid of the 10-packs of cigarettes had very little impact; if possible we should try and protect the jobs at Imperial Tobacco,” he said.
Deputy Robert Troy also expressed concern at the EU proposal, saying it would “drive up the illegal tobacco trade”.
“We need to tackle this area but my concern is that imposing a significant change like the one proposed by the European Commission will help increase illegal selling of roll your own tobacco. There is no doubt that we need to dissuade more people from smoking and ensure that more young people don’t take up smoking in the first place and the best way to do this is through education.”