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Mr. Greenway: If the hon. Gentleman cannot give me a single example on an issue which is absolutely essential to my argument and which matters hugely to my community, how can he expect to convince the House or the country?
Mr. Lewis: I did not anticipate having to give examples. A directive exists. We are all loyal members of the EU, I should have thought--some are --and certainly Governments are loyal members of the EU. The Secretary of State has powers under article 8 of the directive, so what is the fuss? I am as concerned as--
Mr. Leigh rose --
The hon. Member for Ealing, North should accept that I am as concerned as he is about jobs, probably even more so, because I have never voted in any way to deny jobs anywhere. I do not think that one can say that about him, but leaving that on one side, there is no doubt that article 8 of the directive provides the Secretary of State with sufficient power.
Mr. Leigh: The argument about the directive is crucial to the debate and the hon. Gentleman is generous in giving way so that we can investigate whether he is right. In fact he is wrong, because the EC made clear its position subsequent to Canada's attempt to enact the hon. Gentleman's suggestion. The Commission said:
"The EC is of the opinion that this proposed requirement, an increase of 25 per cent., is more trade restrictive than necessary to fulfil an aim of protection of public health, especially when compared with EC legislation, which has achieved this objective with messages varying from 4 to 6 per cent."
The Commission has already made it clear that any increase in the size of the warning on the packet to 25 per cent. would be contrary to the workings of the internal market.
Column 1250The hon. Gentleman quoted just part of article 8. I accept, as he said, that it makes it clear that
"The provisions of this Directive do not affect the right of the Member States to lay down, in compliance with the Treaty, requirements concerning the import, sale and consumption of tobacco products which they deem necessary in order to protect public health, provided"--
the following is important--
Mr. Lewis: No. I have given way enough. Let me clarify what article 8 of the 1989 directive says. I shall quote it in full: "1. Member States may not, for reasons of labelling, prohibit or restrict the sale of products which comply with this Directive. 2. The provisions of this Directive do not affect the right of the Member States to lay down, in compliance with the Treaty, requirements concerning the import, sale and consumption of tobacco products which they deem necessary in order to protect public health, provided such requirements do not imply any change to labelling as laid down in this Directive."
Mr. Lewis: Hang on. The directive still allows the Secretary of State a measure of discretion to promote public health on cigarette packs. That could be debated further in Committee should the House give the Bill a Second Reading. Hon. Members have not convinced me and I have not convinced them.
Several hon. Members rose --
The labelling of tobacco products is recognised as an important part of smoking prevention policy. It is constantly evolving as a result of continuing progress by medical research into the consequences of tobacco on health. I cannot understand how Conservative Members cannot recognise the need for better health education in respect of tobacco consumption.
Mr. Lewis: The hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans) has probably spent all morning in a television studio, because he has just walked into the Chamber. As he is the best known tobacconist in the House, I do not think that it would be appropriate for me to give way to him.
Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. I gave a warning earlier about seated interventions. If, as I gather, the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans) was watching the debate on television, he will have heard it.
The first health warnings appeared when the dangers of tobacco consumption had just been discovered. No one can argue about that. Those warnings communicated general messages about the possible health risks of smoking. The increased knowledge about the full extent of the danger of tobacco use must be reflected in the way in which that message is conveyed.
The research conducted today is enormous when compared with that conducted 30 years ago. Just last year, Sir Richard Doll and Professor Richard Peto, of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, illustrated the enormity of the risk associated with smoking. They found that one in two of all regular smokers will die prematurely as a result of their habit. Those killed by tobacco in middle age, between the ages of 35 and 69, lose an average of between 20 and 25 years of non-smoker life expectancy. The Tobacco Manufacturers Association claims that smokers are fully aware of the risks involved, but that is not true. That is no argument for not introducing my Bill.
Mr. Pike: My hon. Friend said that tobacco smokers understand the risks involved, but is he aware that many tobacco smokers do not appreciate the effect of smoking on their circulation system? A number of people who have had to have limbs amputated did not realise that that was a possible consequence of smoking.
Mr. Lewis: I am grateful to my hon. Friend, because in the past 10 days I have spoken to two smokers who surprised me when they said that amputation was one of their biggest fears. They told me that they understood that their habit caused damage to their lungs and perhaps to their hearts, but they did not appreciate the risk to their limbs. I had not given it much thought either.
Mr. Robert Banks rose --
It is true that public information campaigns in developed countries have made most people aware that tobacco is bad for their health and that it may cause lung cancer and other serious diseases. Because of the high risk attached to smoking and the degree of choice involved when individuals decide to smoke, thereby introducing themselves to that risk, the perception gap is extremely important. The Bill would address that by ensuring that the style of the warning reflected its importance.
Research carried out by the Health Education Authority illustrated that point by concluding that there is a tendency among many smokers to interpret the small size of the warning as evidence of Government duplicity. Smokers also equate the size of the warning to the magnitude of
Column 1252risk. With regard to our current health warnings, it is not surprising that research shows that perception of the health risk is very commonly underestimated.
A National Opinion Polls survey in 1994 stated that 60 per cent. of smokers still do not recognise that smoking causes the highest number of premature deaths in the United Kingdom each year. The point made earlier by my hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike) underscores the message that I have been trying to convey today. I hope that the Bill will go into Committee and that we can consider the issues that Conservative Members may feel have not been dealt with adequately today. I believe that the Bill will add immeasurably to the education of the public on this vital public health matter.
Sir Peter Emery (Honiton): I support the Bill for a specific reason: I am massively interested in the health of the nation and the need to take every possible step to protect the health of the nation. Therefore, my analysis of the Bill relates to two areas. First, what are the effects of smoking? Are they bad and should we encourage the reduction of those effects? Secondly, if all hon. Members believe that smoking is bad, could the Bill assist to reduce the effects of smoking? That seems to be a fairly sensible and logical approach to the matter.
As I am about to consider the need to decrease smoking, I must declare that I am chairman of the council of the National Asthma Campaign. Therefore, I can speak with some authority about asthma. I want to remind hon. Members about the effects of smoking, not with regard to its causing asthma, but with regret to its effect on asthmatics.
A survey carried out in 1991 showed that cigarette smoking is a common trigger of asthma attacks, causing difficulties for 57 per cent. of people with asthma. In 1986, the World Health Organisation acknowledged that older people, and those with asthma or heart problems, can be adversely affected by people smoking close to them. I am concerned about the passive effects of smoking as well as the actual effects.
Studies have shown that children with asthma experience more severe asthma symptoms when exposed to smoke from their parents' cigarettes. That evidence can be found in the Murray and Morrison survey published in 1989.
In 1990, American researchers discovered that smoking in the home is associated with higher rates of asthma, an increased need for asthma medications and an earlier onset of the disease itself. A study of 10,000 British children, who were followed from birth to the age of 10, revealed a 14 per cent. increase in childhood wheezy bronchitis when mothers smoked more than four cigarettes a day and a 49 per cent. increase when mothers
Column 1253smoked more than 14 cigarettes a day. That evidence can be found in the "American Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health". It is proven that mothers who smoke when pregnant or soon after can increase the likelihood of their child developing asthma. Research shows that children whose mothers smoke 15 or more cigarettes a day have a 33 per cent. higher chance of developing asthma.
I could recount a list of the medical evidence about the effects of smoking on health which could become a filibuster. I am sure that the House is unanimous about the effects of smoking. Can any hon. Member who opposes the Bill say that he believes that smoking helps health? Can anyone do that?
Sir Peter Emery: I will finish my question before I give way to my hon. Friend. Can any hon. Member say that smoking has no effect on health? Those are the questions that must be answered. If my hon. Friend the Member for Romsey and Waterside (Mr. Colvin) wishes to stick his neck out, I will be delighted to cut it off.
Mr. Colvin: I tried to intervene earlier when my right hon. Friend was talking about passive smoking and smoking in public places. I wanted to draw his attention to the fact that he may have picked up the wrong speech because the Tobacco Smoking (Public Places) Bill is the next item on the Order Paper today. We are considering tobacco labelling at the moment.
However, my right hon. Friend asked the direct question as to whether tobacco smoke has a beneficial effect on health. I am not a smoker, I hate tobacco smoke and I am especially against passive smoking. However, I always make a point of travelling on the top deck of a London bus simply because I believe that tobacco smoke is so toxic that it kills the germs that I would otherwise breathe in if I sat downstairs. I am sure that there is no scientific evidence that that is so. The belief is simply based on anecdotal evidence from my own experience. I have managed to get through the winter without catching a cold because I travel on the top deck and breathe in that horrible smoke which kills off all other germs.
Sir Peter Emery: I had always thought that my hon. Friend was rather more serious than anecdotal. I can say only that no one in the medical world would give a tinker's cuss for my hon. Friend's argument.
I have read the Order Paper and I am aware of the Bill which relates to smoking in public places. However, I am arguing about smoking in public places and anywhere else. A study has shown how exposure to cigarette smoke for an hour causes a 20 per cent. deterioration in the lung function of adults with asthma. That evidence is revealed in "The Passive Effects on Bronchial Asthma" by the Domes, Bolin and Slaggen inquiry which was published and accepted by the Department of Health.
It is clear that passive smoking causes a 20 per cent. deterioration in lung function; this is for asthmatics and for people with bronchitis, emphysema and all the other
Column 1254diseases of the lungs. There is also evidence that exposure to other people's smoke can lead to an increased need for emergency hospital treatment for people with asthma.
I want now to consider public opinion and smoking. In February and March 1992, the European Community conducted a questionnaire of the citizens of the 12 member states. In the Community as a whole, the majority of those surveyed--85 per cent.--said that they favoured clearly defined areas reserved for smokers and areas where non-smokers are protected.
Mr. Couchman: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I believe that we have the unique opportunity this morning to discuss two Bills on smoking. It is quite clear that although my right hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Sir P. Emery) is undoubtedly passionate about the effects of smoking on asthma, he is talking to the Tobacco Smoking (Public Places) Bill rather than to the Tobacco Products Labelling Bill. Would you please rule to the effect that we should wait and discuss passive smoking when we reach the second Bill?
Sir Peter Emery: Thank you very much, Madam Deputy Speaker. I find it very strange that people cannot understand that passive smoking, and the decreasing of passive smoking, is a major factor which the Tobacco Products Labelling Bill can do something to assist. I find it particularly surprising that people are unable to understand that. Nobody has any medical basis for suggesting that smoking can be beneficial or that it is not harmful. If that is established, let us consider whether the Bill can do anything to assist. I do not think that the hon. Member for Worsley (Mr. Lewis)--certainly not myself--would suggest that there will be a revolutionary effect from the Bill, but every small step to decrease the use of cigarettes is beneficial to the health of the nation. As I said at Health questions recently, every day five people die from asthma--that is more than 2, 000 a year. The problem is made worse by the effects of smoking. If we want to do something to assist the health of the nation, even if it affects such a major industry as the tobacco industry, and even if it affects some people who are in employment, the overall effect on the nation should be our major aim.
Mr. Harry Greenway: My right hon. Friend knows of my constituency interest in this matter. The good people of Northolt who are losing their jobs have no interest in his argument, because British cigarettes, which can be controlled by the House and which are already being overtaxed anyway, are being replaced by imports. My right hon. Friend has not addressed that point at all.
Column 1255him to go to the Asthma Society in his area. More than 276 of his constituents would urge him to support the Bill because they are affected by it.
Sir Peter Emery: My hon. Friend's argument is nonsensical, and I just do not accept it. The number of imported cigarettes sold in his constituency is the absolute minimum compared with the sale of ordinary cigarettes manufactured by his own constituents. My hon. Friend and I know that, so let us not have false arguments. Can increasing the size of warnings on cigarette packets help to decrease smoking? A major investigation was carried out by Professor Alex P.W. Gardner for the British Psychological Society. I shall refer to only three of his conclusions; there are many more. He said:
"Existing smokers claim that current health warnings have little impact and many appear to merge and to be incorporated in the pack designs."
Hon. Members have only to see certain cigarette packets to realise that that is the case. Professor Gardner went on to state that "Research suggests that smokers feel the packet is image related, exciting . . . and desirable.
Cigarette packets do have strong affective associations to the smoker".
That is particularly so among women. He went on to state: "The inference from this is that major changes are needed . . . to the package design to offset these effects and make the health message more salient."
There is a most intriguing example of that fact. The American cigarettes, Lucky Strike, had a green package in the 1930s. Research found that women did not buy Lucky Strike cigarettes because they liked to have a white packet in their handbags. The manufacturer could not see a way of changing the modus of its approach until America was brought into the war by the Japanese. There was a campaign which stated, "Lucky Strike green has gone to war," and a white package was produced. That was purely to attract female smokers. The tobacco industry itself knows that package design has a considerable effect on the sale of cigarettes.
Mr. John Carlisle: My right hon. Friend is quoting Professor Gardner, whom the hon. Member for Worsley (Mr. Lewis) also quoted, saying that design has an effect. Will my right hon. Friend also accept a quote from Australia? The hon. Member for Worsley also mentioned Australia in part of his defence. He referred to Dr. Power of Macquarie university, who said:
"There is no evidence anywhere in the studies reported that any changes to cigarette packets will have any effect on the behaviour of the target groups."
That was part of the research that was carried out for the Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer. There are always other sides to the argument. Surely my right hon. Friend is not going to accept just one person's evidence on that rather spurious case.
Sir Peter Emery: I am delighted that my hon. Friend the Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) takes that view. Therefore, perhaps he will accept the evidence of the tobacco manufacturers. In the example that I gave, the
Column 1256manufacturers themselves went out of their way to alter their campaign in order to change the package. That is what they did. We do not have to go to the professors--even to those whom I am quoting--because the industry itself accepts that. Perhaps my hon. Friend, who is interested in the industry, will accept the evidence of the industry.
I shall now continue my point about the need to increase the size of warnings. We must accept that it is self-evident that a notice that takes up 25 per cent. of the relevant area is more likely to be read and taken into account than one which covers only 6 per cent. of the area. I should like to hear the arguments of those who think otherwise, but that fact should be obvious. Therefore, if we are interested in hammering home a health warning about the dangers of cigarette smoking, does not it logically apply that it would be better to have something to which more people would pay attention and read than to have something to which they would be less likely to pay attention and to read?
The only people who do not think in that way are people in the tobacco industry. I shall refer to the reasons why the Government are taking their line.
Mr. Banks: I am sure that my right hon. Friend will agree that before legislation is passed by the House it is important to have evidence to support the reasons for it. Can he tell us how many members of the public are not aware already that smoking damages their health?
Sir Peter Emery: My hon. Friend the Member for Harrogate (Mr. Banks), whom I know and like, puts a non sequitur. The Government accept that it is necessary to continue a campaign. It is not I but the Government who should answer my hon. Friend. The Government are spending £13.5 million of my hon. Friend's money, my money and the taxpayer's money to make that more evident. The Government are actually pursuing the very point that I am making. I wish to assist the Government and to take the matter further. I can see no reasons for not doing so other than those of the tobacco industry. It is strange that those opposing the Bill say that it cannot be proved that there is any need to increase the warning on cigarette packaging. They suggest that the packet contains enough warning already and that the size does not matter. If it does not matter, why is the tobacco industry so against an increase?
Sir Peter Emery: The point made in that sedentary intervention is more relevant than many of the points made during the debate by those standing up. An increase in the warning would mean the cost of a new design. It would be possible in the Bill to provide for a long period before the provision came into operation--long enough for designs to be changed without an additional cost factor. If cost is a argument, the Bill can be modified to cope with it. I am certain that the Bill's promoter would be happy to agree to that.
If the argument that the size of the warning has no effect is correct, why is the tobacco industry opposed to that increase? Why do the Government believe that, if the
Column 1257legislation is enacted, it could put the voluntary agreement at risk--an argument that we have heard before and will hear from the Minister this morning? If that argument is true, that proves the effect of the increase. If increasing the warning would put the voluntary agreement at risk, it must damage the sale of cigarettes-- something that the tobacco industry would hate. That is an even stronger argument for us to press forward with the provisions.
Mr. Barron: The right hon. Gentleman has advanced a good argument. The argument about the voluntary agreement contains a threat. The tobacco industry can threaten any voluntary agreement which is not cast in statute and is fragile. If the tobacco industry does not want to uphold such an agreement, it can be coercive and threaten not to co-operate with the Government in advancing the cause of public health.
I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Staffordshire, South-East (Mr. Lightbown) will pass on to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Health, who is to reply to the debate, that we need a clear statement from the Government today on their view of the Bill. When it is known that the Government are to oppose a private Member's Bill, it does not make sense for the Government not to make their position clear. When the position is not made clear, the Bill proceeds into Committee, where hours are spent debating amendments, and returns to the Floor of the House for Third Reading and Report in order that one or two people--who the Government know oppose the measure--may state their opposition to it. That means that the Government do not have to make their position clear. The House should require any Government to inform it of the Government's view on private Members' Bills on Second Reading. That would save an immense amount of time for all hon. Members in the House and in Committee. I urge the Government to make their position clear on the Bill before us.
Mr. Colvin: I support my right hon. Friend in what he has just asked the Government to say. Perhaps, at the same time, my hon. Friend the Minister will say whether the Chancellor believes that he should continue to impose the 3 per cent. increase in real terms on the price of cigarettes through additional taxation, year on year. The Government's ammunition to deal with the problems of smoking seems to be price, as well as constructive education.