Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has received a letter from the Governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, urging him to reconsider the Irish plan to mandate plain packaging on cigarettes.
Last month the Irish government approved a proposal to change the law on cigarette packaging which will outlaw branding, trademarks and logos in a bid to make the smoking less attractive to young people.
The Irish Times says Governor McDonnell tried to appeal to Mr Kenny by using their shared County Mayo heritage. “I bring you greetings from the people of Virginia… I have enjoyed our several meetings in Dublin and Washington to share stories as sons of County Mayo!”
Governor McDonnell argued that plain packaging there were other proven ways to regulate the industry based on “sound science” and without undermining “the great Irish business environment.”
Tobacco is a major industry in Virginia. The governor's intervention follows pressure from lobbyists.
Four senior congressmen also wrote to Ireland’s Ambassador to the United States, Anne Anderson, urging the Government to scrap the proposal.
The signatories included powerful Congressman Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.
“We are increasingly concerned that the Irish parliament may mandate plain packaging of tobacco products,” they wrote.
“The US and Ireland are friends and strong trading partners. We encourage your government to consider more effective ways to regulate tobacco that do not jeopardise intellectual property rights.”
McDonnell argued that the packaging proposal will be very harmful to certain businesses and farmers in Virginia. “I have recently been briefed” on the proposal and said, "it may affect Ireland’s reputation as a country where intellectual property rights are fully protected.”
The governor's letter provoked a strong reaction from one of Ireland’s leading medical professionals Prof John Crown. Brooklyn-born Crown, one of Ireland's leading oncologists, took to Twitter to express his outrage at McDonnell's efforts on behalf of the tobacco companies.
Here's just some of the tweets from the New York born Irish Senator Prof John Crown: