Limerick-based Tobaccoland may challenge a proposed ban on cigarette machines

Image caption Tobaccoland may mount a legal challenge over a proposed ban on cigarette machines in pubs, hotels and nightclubs

A company that supplies cigarette vending machines in Ireland has warned that it may taken legal action against the Irish state over plans to ban the machines.

Irish health minister Simon Harris said legislation was being drawn up to remove machines from pubs and clubs.

It is part of a government strategy to make the Republic of Ireland tobacco free by 2025.

But Tobaccoland, Limerick, has warned it could take a legal challenge.

Company director James Walsh told Irish broadcaster RTÉ: "We will bring it to the Supreme Court. In there, we will get a fair hearing."

He questioned the Irish government's tobacco strategy and warned that illicit trade would replace bone-fide vendors.

He also cautioned that the major cigarette manufacturers could strike exclusive deals with pub owners to stock their products behind the bar.

"I don't want to be put out of business if there is still going to be a business there in 2025. It would be crazy," he said.

The Irish Cigarette Machine Operators Association claims that 145 jobs will be lost if the ban is introduced.

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