Select Committee on Health Minutes of Evidence


  30.  In addition to the considerable research undertaken or funded by the UK tobacco companies, the companies have for over four decades been involved in effective dialogue and co-operation with successive Governments and Government-appointed bodies. This dialogue has resulted, principally, in a system of voluntary agreements covering product modification, labelling, advertising and sports sponsorship. This voluntary framework has given the Government a system of regulatory control which is flexible, speedy and effective.

Product Modification

  31.  The Standing Scientific Liaison Committee: Following the publication of the second Royal College of Physicians Report in January 1971 and the conclusion of the first voluntary agreement on advertising and labelling in the same year (see paragraph 58 et seq), the UK tobacco companies agreed to the establishment of a Standing Scientific Liaison Committee (SSLC) which would be composed of scientists from the tobacco companies and scientists and doctors appointed by the Department of Health and Social Security (DHSS).

  32.  The SSLC was asked:

    "1.  To advise the Secretary of State on the scientific aspects of matters relating to smoking and health, specificially:

      (a)  To advise on the significance to health of tar and nicotine yields of cigarettes and how such information can best be made available to the public and how the determinations should be carried out for this purpose.

      (b)  To receive data about the consitutents of tobacco and tobacco smoke and changes in them and to release these in confidence to bona fide research workers.

      (c)  To review the research into less dangerous smoking and to consider whether further such research needs to be carried out and to advise on the validity of research results and of systems of testing the health effects of cigarettes and of their predictive value to human health." 13

  33.  The SSLC was chaired by Dr RHL Cohen, Deputy Chief Medical Officer of the DHSS and the members were prominent and respected scientists from relevant scientific and medical disciplines together with senior tobacco company scientists.

  34.  In 1972 the SSLC reported to the Department of Health. The Committee recommended that:

    —  "The tar and nicotine yields of all important brands of packeted cigarettes sold in the UK should be published twice a year."

    —  "Analyses should be undertaken by the Laboratory of the Government Chemist."

    —  "The published figures should be accompanied by information which would educate the public about the effects of tar and nicotine and encourage smokers to change brands with a lower tar yield. Advice should be sought from publicity experts on the best method of presenting this."

    —  "The published figures should be divided into broad groups according to their tar yield and agreement should be sought with the tobacco manufacturers for a description of these groups to be indicated on packets of all brands included in the table." 14

  35.  Independent Scientific Committee on Smoking and Health: Following the publication of its Report in August 1972, the SSLC stood down and in 1973 a new committee, the Independent Scientific Committee on Smoking and Health (ISCSH), was created. This committee was to be independent of both the UK tobacco companies and the Department of Health, although its chairman was appointed by the Department and it enjoyed scientific support from Department officials.

  36.  The ISCSH's terms of reference were:

    "To advise on the scientific aspects of matters concerning smoking and health, in particular:

      (a)  (i)  To receive in confidence full data about the constituents of cigarettes and all other smoking material and their smoke and changes in these.

      (ii)  To release to bona fide research workers for approved subjects such of the above as is agreed by the suppliers of its.

      (b)  To review the research into less dangerous smoking and to consider whether further such research, including clinical trials and epidemiological studies, needs to be carried out; and

      (c)  To advise on the validity of research results and of systems of testing the health effects of tobacco and tobacco substitutes and on their predictive value to human health." 15

  37.  The membership of the ISCSH, under the chairmanship, first of Dr Robert Hunter who became Lord Hunter of Newington, and then of Dr Peter Froggatt, consisted of prominent and respected scientists from relevant scientific and medical disciplines, acting with "complete professional independence".16 The ISCSH was often referred to as either the "Hunter Committee" or the "Froggatt Committee".

  38.  The ISCSH readily secured the UK tobacco companies' co-operation in attempting to develop what it identified as "lower risk cigarettes". The ISCSH promoted two product modification initiatives in particular. The first involved the replacement of a proportion of tobacco in the product by a substitute material. The second phase of the ISCSH's programme was to seek "further reductions in the tar yields of conventional cigarettes".17

  39.  The programme devised by the ISCSH was given effect through the system of voluntary agreements. Sir Peter Froggatt, in describing the "production modification programme", has written that:

    "It is sufficient to say here that the programme designed by the ISCSH, agreed by the tobacco industry, and negotiated by Government with the Tobacco Advisory Council. ("TAC") as part of a series of so-called `voluntary agreements' in 1973, 1977, 1980 and 1984 is known as the `product modification programme'. No country then, or since, has developed such a regulatory system, and it is described in detail in the ISCSH Fourth Report." 18

  40. In each of the reports of the ISCSH, the Chairman of the ISCSH noted the co-operation of the representatives and scientists of the UK tobacco companies. In its third report in 1983, for example, the Chairman, Sir Peter Froggatt, said:

    "Indeed, I am pleased to say that we maintained a fruitful working relationship with the industry and derive great benefit from our continuing discussions both with the industry as a whole and with individual companies." 19

  Again, in his forward to the fourth report of the ISCSH published in 1988, Sir Peter Frogatt stated:

    "We continue to maintain a constructive working relationship with the tobacco industry as a whole as well as with individual companies." 20

  41. Substitutes: An early stage in the product modification programme was to consider the value of introducing tobacco substitutes into cigarettes. This required extensive testing of the substitutes and the substitute/tobacco mixtures and one of the main tasks of the ISCSH was to construct guidelines for such testing.

  42. The first two major tobacco substitutes marketed were Cytrel and "New Smoking Material" (NSM). Toxicological and other evidence was submitted by the UK tobacco companies concerned and the ISCSH "concluded that these substances when smoked alone or mixed with tobacco, were likely to be less harmful to health than pure tobacco".21 It subsequently conveyed the findings to the Secretaries of State of the Health Department and recommended that no objection should be raised to the marketing of these substitutes. A number of brands containing the substitutes were then launched in July 1977.

  43.  "Lower Risk Cigarettes": The greater part of the ISCSH's work was concerned with the promotion of a product modification programme aimed at the development of what it called "lower risk" cigarettes. The strategy of the ISCSH involved encouraging the companies to develop lower tar products and establishing a system for the measurement and reporting of tar and nicotine yields of marketed brands.

  44. The ISCSH also acknowledged that "the (tobacco) manufacturers are engaged in a commercial enterprise which depends greatly on the acceptability of their products to the consumer",22 and that the product modification programme had to promote the development of "lower risk" cigarettes whilst maintaining consumer acceptability.

  45. In furtherance of its product modification strategy, in 1979 the ISCSH recommended in its second report that " . . . the Secretaries of the State obtain the manufacturers' co-operation for the achievement of further substantial reductions in tar yields".23 In the following year, a voluntary agreement was concluded on product modification, between the UK tobacco companies, represented by the TAC, and the Government. The agreement set a sales-weighted average target (SWAT) for tar of 15 mg by the end of 1983. The SWAT target was duly met by the UK companies.

  46.  A further voluntary agreement on product modification was concluded in 1984 which set a target of an average yield of 13 mg by the end of 1987. Although no further such agreements were formally concluded, the ISCSH proposed in its fourth report a tar SWAT of 12 mg by the end of 1991. These targets were also met.

  47.  Following adoption of Council Directive 90/239/EEC in May 1990, the Government enacted the Cigarettes (maximum tar Yield) (Safety) Regulations 1992 (SI 1992/2783). These imposed a permitted maximum tar yield of 15 mg from 30 November 1992, and 12 mg from 1 January 1998.

  48.  Additives: The ISCSH recognised that the use of additives in the manufacture of tobacco products, other than cigarettes, had a long history and that although their use in cigarettes was more recent, cigarettes containing additives had been marketed in many countries outside the UK since the beginning of this century. In the UK, prior to 1970, the law prohibited their use in tobacco products without special permission from the Comissioners of Customs & Excise under Section 176 of the Customs & Excise Act, 1952. This permission was given only within very strict limits and mainly in respect of volatile flavourings in tobacco products other than cigarettes.

  49.  The Finance Act 1970 and the resultant Tobacco Substitutes Regulations 1970 provided for tobacco duty to be charged on additives and substitutes used in the manufacture of smoking products. This opened the way for the Commissioners of Customs & Excise to relax the long standing restrictions that had been applied for revenue reasons on the ingredients that could be used in tobacco manufacture. However, the statutory powers under which the restrictions were applied remained in force until the taxation system was radically revised on 1 January 1978. Effective statutory control over the materials used in the manufacture of tobacco products had therefore ceased. In these circumstances, a voluntary undertaking by maufacturers and importers was given to Health Ministers not to introduce new products containing additives other than those found acceptable to the ISCSH, and to notify the use to the Department of Health and Social Security.

  50.  The first report of the ISCSH acknowledged the willingness of the UK companies to co-operate with it and to market tobacco products containing additives only if the ISCSH had no objection. 24 The ISCSH drew up guidelines, in conjunction with the TAC, for the testing and use of such products containing additives. These guidelines were attached to the first report.

  51.  The second report of the ISCSH revised the guidelines for the testing and use of additives to include the general requirement of an inhalation study and data on transference to smoke for any new additive. The ISCSH raised no objection to additives used in Western Europe and North America over the previous 20 years but the UK tobacco companies were asked to inform the DHSS of the quantities of any of these additives used at the time products were maketed for sale in the UK. Where companies proposed new additive usage they were required to make submissions to the ISCSH in accordance with guidelines attached to the report.

  52.  In its third report, the ISCSH, having reconsidered its role in the evaluation of additives, expressed its belief that this role should be extended to include assessment of all substances to those parts of tobacco products intended to be burnt. The ISCSH therefore wished to receive submissions on all new additives in cigarette papers through a procedure similar to that used for other tobacco additives.

  53.  The fourth report of the ISCSH acknowledged that the system set in place, primarily in the second report, had been working well. The Committee stated that it "will continue to ensure the safety of additives used in all smoked tobacco products." 25

  54.  The recommendations of the ISCSH with regard to additives were incorporated into the voluntary agreements on product modification. The 1981 Voluntary Agreement on Advertising Promotion and Health Warnings, Product Modification and Research provided that the UK tobacco companies would continue the arrangements set in place following the second ISCSH report relating to the control of substitutes and additives. Specifically:

    "(a)  Companies will follow and comply with the agreed guidelines on testing and marketing products containing tobacco substitutes and/or additives.

    (b)  Companies will notify the DHSS of additives and/or substitutes to which the ISCSH has given its consent for commercial use, and will inform the DHSS which of these are included in products at the time when the products are marketed for sale to the public in the United Kingdom.

    (c)  Companies will similarly notify the DHSS when any changes are made to the information given under (b)." 26

  55.  The 1983 Voluntary Agreement on Tobacco Product Modification and Research was in similar terms. In 1984 the revised Tobacco Product Modification Voluntary Agreement with regard to additives and substitutes extended the existing arrangements to include all new additives in cigarette papers. Today the use of additives is governed by the 1997 Voluntary Agreement on the Approval and use of New Additives in Tobacco Products in the UK. This agreement provides that the scrutiny of additives rests with the Department of Health, acting on behalf of the UK Health Departments, taking advice from the Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health and its Technical Advisory Group (TAG) (or any successor committees) as appropriate. At appendix one of this agreement, guidelines for testing and use of new additives in tobacco products in the UK are prescribed.


  56. The ISCSH also made recommendations in its reports concerning the need for independent research into the possible effects on the health of smokers of modifications to tobacco products. The UK tobacco companies agreed to fund this research under the terms of the voluntary agreements. The funds, which were made available through the TAC, were administered by a charitable trust, known as the TPRT.

  57.  By the time the TPRT was wound up in July 1996, over £8,000,000 had been committed by the tobacco companies to the research administered by the TPRT, 37 projects had been completed, over 100 articles had been published in scientific journals and three international symposia had been sponsored, of which two were conducted jointly with the Department of Health. The work of the TPRT was described in detail in the Sir Peter Froggatt and Mrs Cheryl Swann report, "The Tobacco Research Trust 1982-96". Sir Peter Froggatt's preface to this report concludes with the comment that:

    "The sole monies available to the Trust were the principal sums from the tobacco industry through the Tobacco Advisory Council and the interest earned on these in the hands of the Trust and, for a time before that, in those of the ISCSH. Without these funds there would have been no research programme and no Trust! The industry, especially though not exclusively the companies' scientific research staff, took a healthy interest in the progress and results of the research programme, and in all ways relationships between the Trustees and the industry were amicable and constructive. This contributed greatly to the success of the research programme. I like to think that also in a wider sense both parties benefited. I certainly did and I believe that others did as well." 27


  58.  Voluntary Agreement on Advertising and Labelling: In 1971 Sir Keith Joseph, the Secretary of State for Social Services, met representatives of the Tobacco Advisory Committee to discuss what measures should be taken by the UK tobacco companies and the Government in relation to smoking and health. The ensuing discussions led the Government and the companies to enter into what was to be the first voluntary agreement on advertising and labelling. In announcing the agreement to the House of Commons on 16 March 1971, Sir Keith Joseph stated:

    "The tobacco manufacturers have agreed voluntarily—and I would like to pay a tribute to the responsible and helpful way in which they have approached these discussions—to print in a clear type a warning on each cigarette packet." 28

  59.  The agreement introduced, among other things, health warnings on packeted cigarettes. The warning read:

    "WARNING by HM Government


  60.  The agreement was revised many times over the subsequent years in response to changing circumstances and in line with the recommendations of the ISCSH. For example, in 1974 it was revised to increase the range of material which carried the health warning to include cinema films and promotional literature. By 1976, following further consultation between the UK tobacco companies and Government, it was agreed that tar yield groups would be printed on packets and advertising. Also, cinema advertising would be restricted to "X" certificate films. By 1977 it was agreed to modify the wording of the warning. The warning became:

    "HM Government Health Departments' WARNING:


  61.  The agreement was revised again in 1980. The UK tobacco companies agreed, among other things, that they would reduce total expenditure on advertising across all brands and to provide material to retailers on the law regarding sale of cigarettes to children under 16. The 1980 agreement also introduced two further warnings:

    "DANGER: HM Government Health Departments' WARNING SMOKING MAY COST YOU MORE THAN MONEY", and


  The 1980 warnings were to be printed randomly in equal proportions on all packets and were to be increased in size.

  62.  The agreement was further revised in 1983 and 1986. The 1983 agreement provided for further reductions in advertising expenditure and a prohibition on advertising of brands yielding 19 mg or more of tar. The agreement also provided that tar yield groups were to be printed on the sides of packets other than that bearing the health warning. The 1986 agreement prohibited advertising of brands yielding 18 mg or more of tar. Restrictions on placements of advertising were introduced. There would be no advertising near schools and no advertising in magazines with a female readership of 200,000 or more or where more than 33 per cent of those women were aged 15 to 24. This agreement also provided for a new range of warnings and the size of these warnings to be increased:







  63.  The agreement was revised again in 1991, and again on 1 January 1992 and 1994. Its key provisions now control: the content, tone and style of advertising which must not seek to persuade people to start smoking; the media in which advertising is permitted, with particular reference to children and young women; the level of expenditure on poster advertising, and the siting of poster advertising in the vicinity of schools and playgrounds; companies' promotional activities; and health warnings and information on yields in advertisements.

  64.  COMATAS: The 1986 voluntary agreemeent also provided for a monitoring committee to be established to monitor the operation of the voluntary agreement. The Committee, known as the Committee for Monitoring Agreement on Tobacco Advertising and Sponsorship (COMATAS), was composed of representatives of Government departments concerned and the UK tobacco companies in equal numbers. The chairman was independent and meetings were held at least quarterly. The companies agreed to fund, equally with Government, the costs of the Committee. The terms of reference of COMATAS were:

    "(a)  To keep under review all matters relating to the operation of the voluntary agreement other than those relating directly to the operation of the Cigarette Advertising Code and monitored by the Advertising Standard Authority, or matters which were the responsiblity of the BBC or IBA.

    (b)  To ensure that the terms of the voluntary agreement were properly observed and were interpreted with consistency.

    (c)  To receive full details of complaints sent by the public or public bodies to the Government Department concerned, and of the responses by those companies to whom the complaints were referred. In the case of disputed matters or those which raised general issues relevant to the observation of the agreement, to take a view and, where appropriate communicate that view to the parties concerned.

    (d)  To report annually to Ministers, and to member companies through the TAC and ITPAC respectively, on the general implementation of the agreement." 29

  65.  The chairman of COMATAS has reported annually to Ministers and the UK tobacco companies on the operation of the agreement.

  66.  Advertising Codes of Practice: As early as 1962 the TAC held a series of discussions with the Independent Television Authority (ITA) leading to the implementation of the Code of Advertising Standards. The Code classified the following as unacceptable:

    "1.  Advertisements that greatly over-emphasize the pleasure to be obtained from cigarettes.

    2.  Advertisements featuring the conventional heros of the young.

    3.  Advertisements appealing to pride or general manliness.

    4.  Advertisements using a fashionable social setting to support the impression that cigarettes smoking is a `go- ahead' habit or an essential part of the pleasure and excitement of modern living.

    5.  Advertisements that strikingly present romantic situations and young people in such a way as to seem to link the pleasures of such situations with the pleasures of smoking." 30

  67.  The TAC subsequently undertook voluntarily to adopt the television code for other advertising ie press, cinema and posters.

  68.  In 1965 the Tobacco Advisory Committee prepared a UK advertising code between its members which became the Code of Advertising Practice. The Code of Advertising Practice Committee (the CAP Committee) of the ITA accepted the Tobacco Advisory Committee's offer to act as an independent arbitrator should a difference of opinion between the companies develop.

  69.  The Code was updated over time and developed through discussions between the UK Health Departments, cigarette manufacturers and importers (represented by the TMA and the Imported Tobacco Products Advisory Council respectively) and the Advertising Standards Association (ASA). Its administration was eventually taken over by the ASA. The principal provisions of the Code are:

    —  No advertisement should incite people to start smoking.

    —  Advertisements should not encourage smokers to increase their consumption or smoke to excess.

    —  Advertisements should never suggest that smoking is safe, healthy, natural, necessary for relaxation and concentration, popular or appropriate in all circumstances.

    —  Cigarettes should not be shown in the mouth and advertisements should not associate smoking with healthy eating or drinking.

    —  Smoking should not be associated with social, sexual, romantic or business success and advertisements should not be sexually titillating, though the choice of a particular brand may be linked to taste and discernment.

    —  Advertisements should not contain actual or implied testimonials or endorsements from well-known people, famous fictitious characters or people doing jobs or occupying positions which are generally regarded as admirable.

    —  No heroic figure, personality cult, pastime or fashion trend should be featured in advertisements in a way that would appeal to those who were adventurous or rebellious, particulary the young. Anyone shown smoking should always be and cleary be seen to be over 25.

    —  No advertisment should exaggerate the pleasure of smoking or claim that it is daring or glamorous to smoke or that smoking enhances people's masculinity, femininity, appearance or independence.

  70.  EC Directives: Regulations requiring warnings on tobacco products were introduced in 1991 to give effect to EC Directive 89/622/EEC. The Tobacco Products Labelling (Safety) Regulations 1991 (SI 1991/1530) provide that for packets of cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco, the following warnings should appear:

    —  On the face of packets:


    —  On the back and in rotation:







  71.  The 1991 regulations also provide:

    —  Warnings are to be printed in a conspicuous place on a contrasting background. These warnings are to be easily visible, clearly legible and indelible. Warnings are to cover an area amounting to at least 6 per cent of the packet.

    —  Each packet to provide information as to tar and nicotine yields. This information is to be printed on contrasting background along one side of the packet and to cover an area amounting to at least 6 per cent of that side.

  72.  Sports sponsorship: Since 1974, sports sponsorship has also been regulated by voluntary agreement. The latest voluntary agreement on sports sponsorship came into force in January 1995. Its key provisions control the percentage of total expenditure on sports sponsorship by any company in any financial year; the use of the Chief Medical Officer's warning in press or poster advertisements for, and static signs at, sporting activities; the prohibition of advertising of tobacco sporting events in cinemas; the prohibition of advertising of tobacco sponsored events within a radius of 200 metres from the front entrance of schools and other places of education for young people under 18 years of age.


  73.  The UK tobacco companies, through the TMA, have continued to work, often alongside Government, on a range of issues relevant to smoking, including under-age smoking and public and workplace smoking.


  74.  It is the policy of the TMA's members and Government policy, that smoking is an activity for informed adults and that under-age smoking should be prevented. The UK tobacco companies have for many years co-operated with Government on the issue of prevention of sales of cigarettes to under 16s. This issue has primarily been dealt with by legislation (The Childrens Act 1908, Children and Young Persons Act 1933, Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Act 1991), in recognition that it is an issue which cannot be dealt with solely by the companies, given that sales are the primary responsibility of retailers.

  75.  Over the years the tobacco companies, acting on their own initiative and in agreement with the Government, have campaigned to educate retailers about the law relating to the prevention of sales of cigarettes to under 16s.

  In 1981, following an undertaking given by the companies to the Secretary of State for Health, the TAC mounted a major campaign to distribute notices for display in tobacco retail outlets in order to assist them in applying the law on sales of cigarettes to children. As a consequence of the 1981 initiative, some 200,000 notices were distributed to shopkeepers throughout the UK.

  Subsequently the TAC joined with all the retailing and wholesaling associations whose members sold tobacco products in another major initiative to ensure that as many retail outlets as possible knew their legal responsibilities, instructed their staff and displayed a notice to help them apply the law when children asked for cigarettes. This project became known as Project Bluebird.

  Despite Project Bluebird, children continued to gain access to cigarettes. This was a matter of great concern to the members of the TAC and the Government. The UK companies therefore undertook a further campaign which was much more extensive and ambitious than anything in the past. Over a three and a half year period, the companies spent £1 million on the campaign, known as Project Greenfinch, which not only focussed on retailers but also addressed the issue through the media. The specific objectives were:

    —  to educate the general public about the law relating to the sale of cigarettes to young persons;

    —  to educate children that cigarettes cannot be sold to them;

    —  to educate shopkeepers and their staff that they are breaking the law if they sell to persons under 16.

  These objectives were to be achieved through extensive national advertising in both newspapers and trade magazines and by positioning stickers in retail stores which sold cigarettes. These stickers explained that cigarettes should not be sold to under 16s. It was hoped by distributing to retailers an information pack including stickers that the companies would be able to educate the stores' customers, the stores' assistants and the shopkeepers of the law. The proportion of tobacco retail outlets displaying notices regarding the threshold age increased from 24 per cent in 1986 to about 80 per cent of principal outlets by the end of the campaign in 1989.

  In 1997, the TMA also provided support for a pilot scheme, run by the National Federation of Retail Newsagents, with the co-operation of other retailer organisations, in the North East of England. Entitled the No Excuses campaign, the scheme endeavoured to achieve co-operation from retailers, parents and the public in respect for the law prohibiting sales to the under-16s. The campaign was widely supported by community leaders and concerned individuals. As part of the campaign, retailers were provided with printed material, such as posters and stickers, promoting respect for the law. A freephone confidential hotline was also set up to enable callers, anonymously, to report outlets where they suspected tobacco products were being sold to persons under 16. Information obtained by this means was passed to the local Trading Standards authorities.

  Over time the industry has also sought to limit the accessibility of vending machines to children ensuring that they are now situated in areas only accessible by over 16s and are clearly labelled for the use of 16s and over.

  76.  The results of the No Excuses pilot scheme revealed, as anticipated, the importance of having a proof of age scheme in place. The cost of extending the No Excuses campaign on a national scale would be enormous and be of dubious benefit without such a scheme. In those circumstances the TMA strongly supported the introduction by Government of a national identity card scheme. However, in correspondence with the Home Office in early 1998, it became apparent that the Government was still undecided as to whether such a scheme should be introduced.

  77. Therefore, the TMA took the initiative by giving it support to a proposal received from Andrew Chevis, formerly of the Portman Group, to introduce a voluntary proof of age scheme known as CitizenCard. Other organisations were encouraged to join and a critical mass of founding partners, namely the Associaton of Convenience Stores, the National Federation of Retail Newsagents, Somerfield, Ladbrokes, the TMA and subsequently Camelot, was then established to ensure sufficient funding for CitizenCard to be viable.

  78.  Endorsement of the scheme was sought, and obtained, from both the Home Office and the Department of Health with the result that the CitizenCard proof of age scheme was launched by George Howarth MP, then Minister at the Home Office, on 15 February 1999. The Minister stated: "[CitizenCard] represents an excellent example of initiative, and social responsibility, on the part of the industry group backing it." 31

  Tessa Jowell MP, as Minister for Health, commented:

    " . . . this is an excellent example of a private sector initiative developed in close partnership with the Government's national objectives. As such, I commend it warmly, and look forward to it being taken up as widely as possible." 32

  79.  Since the launch of the scheme, over 15,000 CitizenCards have been issued with uptake forecast to rise as the scheme gains momentum. Active support is being provided by Local Authorities, schools, Trading Standards Departments, police forces, constituency MPs and others concerned with age-related sales.


  80.  There are two significant means by which under-age persons may obtain cigarettes and tobacco which cannot be controlled at point of sale. Family and friends may give to, or buy cigarettes or tobacco for, children under 16 years old. This is a practice that can only be stopped by education at home and at school, and by elders exercising more responsibility and good sense.

  81.  Of considerable and increasing importance, however, is the availability of bootlegged tobacco products, imported and illegally sold in the UK. The volume of that trade is already enormous and is continuing to grow. The tobacco is sold illicitly in bulk and by packet to individuals, bars, clubs and some retailers; on doorsteps and from car boots and through friends and relatives, as well as illicit trade "professionals". The illicit dealer is unlikely to be concerned as to whom he or she is selling, as long as payment is made. There is, therefore, unlikely to be concern for the illegality of sales to the under-16s, any more than there is concern for the illegality of smuggling itself.

  82.  Unless the illegal trade is halted, attempts to limit the access of children to tobacco by change in the threshold age, or by the introduction of a proof of age scheme, or by respect for the law by retailers, are likely to drive the young to make more of their purchases from illegal traders who have no respect for the law governing sales to children.

  83.  The TMA has given considerable practical support to Customs and Excise to assist it in tackling the growing "black-market" in hand-rolling tobacco and cigarettes. However, the root of the problem still remains that, notwithstanding the advent of the single market, the disparity between the UK's high level of excise duty on tobacco and that in other Member States is growing. Substantial incentives therefore exist for the illegal sale in the UK of non-UK taxed imports as well as cheap tobacco products smuggled from outside the EU.

  84.  The severity of the extent of the bootlegging and smuggling of tobacco products is likely to be greatly increased by the Government's intention to introduce regulations which will ban virtually all forms of tobacco advertising and promotion as from 10 December 1999. The TMA has made Ministers aware of its belief that the proposed legislative ban is unlikely to reduce consumption or alter the present trend in relation to smoking by young people.


  85.  Successive Governments have acknowledged that access for non-smokers to smoke-free atmospheres is desirable for a combination of reasons. But Governments have also recognized that a voluntary approach to the control of smoking in public places and at the workplace is essential in order that managers and employers have the flexibility to address the widely varying needs of their specific environments. Through the TMA, the UK tobacco companies have supported the initiative to improve the comfort of non-smokers through voluntary measures.

  86.  In 1997 the Atmosphere Improves Results (AIR) initiative was launched, supported by the TMA and hospitality organisations. The AIR initiative was designed to identify and promote good practice in the accommodation of smoking and non-smoking customers in pubs and bars. The initiative is supported by all of the major hospitality trade associations and the ventilation industry, and involves co-operation with a number of environmental health and health promotion groups throughout the country. Its practical advice is available free to all through publications and on the Internet.

  87.  The initiative has identified the profitability and feasibility of simple cost-effective measures to reduce or remove environmental tobacco smoke, including ventilation filtration (air cleaning) and separation of smokers and non-smokers as appropriate. It has also developed and promoted technical standards, brought together the licensed trade, ventilation industry and health promotion groups and Department of Health representatives in three well-attended major conferences; provided the infrastructure for the launch in September 1999 of the Public Places Charter on Smoking; and carried out vigorous awareness-raising campaigns amongst trade bodies and venue operators.


  88.  Notwithstanding the UK tobacco companies' record in responding to concerns about smoking and health and agreeing initiatives with Government, there has been a marked reduction in the productive dialogue between the companies and Government, in particular in relation to the smoking and health issue. More recently there has been a trend for Government to consider issues relating to tobacco and formulate policy with less involvement of the TMA and/or its members than has previously been the case. This is exemplified not only by the Government's decision to abandon the voluntary arrangements relating to advertising and sponsorship but also in relation to the working of the Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health.

  89.  The ISCSH issued its final report in 1988, and the terms of appointment of its members expired in 1991. In February 1994 a decision was taken to set up the Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health ("SCOTH") to assume some of the previous repsonsibilities of the ISCSH. SCOTH, unlike the ISCSH, was constituted to provide advice to the Chief Medical Officer, and not the members of the TMA, on scientific matters concerning tobacco and health. In particular, SCOTH's terms of reference were:

    "to review scientific and medical evidence on such areas relating to tobacco and health, including behaveoural aspects of tobacco use, as may be agreed between the Committee and the UK Health Departments and in the light of these reviews;

    to advise on research priorities on tobacco and health, including behavioural aspects of tobacco use;

    to provide advice to the Department of Health, acting on behalf of the UK Health Departments, about the constituents of tobacco products and their smoke;

    to review existing controls on additives and the emission of toxic substances from cigarettes and to provide advice on controls."

  90.  In June 1994, the TMA was informed that major part of SCOTH's workplan would be to review the scientific literature on the possible health effects of ETS and that the first review would be that of ETS and lung cancer. The TMA was approached as an organisation that had an interest in this paricular issue and that may have had additional information. The UK companies therefore responded, through the TMA, to this invitation by contributing scientific information on the subject to ETS exposure and lung cancer to assist in SCOTH's review.

  91.  However, when the SCOTH report was published in 1998, it made conclusions and recommendations on a number of important issues, in addition to ETS and lung cancer, which SCOTH, unlike its predecessor, had made no attempt to discuss beforehand with the UK tobacco companies, despite their obvious relevant knowledge. Neither did SCOTH take into account the fact that for many years the tobacco companies had provided information and assistance to the ISCSH to enable independent assessment to be made of the possible health effects of tobacco products and to assess potential and actual product modifications. The SCOTH Report also ignored the strict requirements on the tobacco companies introduced first by voluntary agreement and now by legislation to carry explicit health warnings.

  92.  The SCOTH Report also contained several unsubstantiated assumptions and sweeping conclusions criticising the marketing activities of the UK tobacco companies. Again, these were made without proper investigation and consultation with interested and informed parties. If properly consulted by SCOTH, the UK tobacco companies would have been able to give accurate information on the nature and intent of their marketing activities and to provide evidence to support their contention that a legislative ban on tobacco advertising, as recommended by SCOTH, would not have any impact on the prevalence of smoking by children.

  93.  In the circumstances, the UK tobacco companies have taken legal action to ensure that their rights are protected.


  94.  The TMA believes that adults should be free to smoke tobacco products, if they choose. While government has an important role to play in smoking and health issues, any regulations should be formulated in a transparent manner, should be proportionate and demonstrably capable of achieving their objectives.

  95.  The Government recognises in the White Paper, "Smoking Kills", that well over a quarter of the people in Britain smoke. It also confirms that the Government fully recognises their right to do so and will not in any of its proposals infringe upon that right.

  96.  We hope that any future government action in relation to smoking will give full regard to the freedom of adults to smoke, if they so choose.


  97.  The UK tobacco companies fully recognise that they approach a number of issues related to tobacco and smoking from a different perspective to the Government. However, although this has always been the case, the extensive dialogue and co-operation which has taken place in the past has delivered significant results. Clearly, the UK companies' knowledge and experience of their products and the market put them in a unique position to work closely with Government in dealing with genuine issues of concern. They remain committed to co-operating fully with Government and strongly believe that a sharing of views and continued constructive dialogue is the only sure way of delivering practical and workable policies in the future and for the Government to achieve its objectives.


  1  Sir Richard Doll and Professor A Bradford Hill, "Smoking and Carcinoma of the Lung", British Medical Journal, 30 September 1950.

  2  Tobacco Manufacturers' Standing Committee First Annual Report for Year Ended 31 May, 1957, page 4.

  3  Annual Report of British Empire Cancer Campaign for 1958.

  4 Minutes of Evidence of 15 July 1976 session of the Expenditure Committee (Social Services and Employment Sub-Committee), page 576.

  5  Report of the Royal College of Physicians of London on Smoking in relation to Cancer of the Lung and Other Diseases, 1962, page S8.

  6  Tobacco Research Council: Review of Past and Current Activities, 1963, page 7.

  7  Tobacco Research Council: Review of Activities, 1963-66, page 17.

  8  Tobacco Research Council: Review of Activities, 1963-66, page 31.

  9  Tobacco Research Council: Review of Activities, 1967-69, page 14.

  10  Tobacco Research Council: Review of Activities, 1967-69, page 14.

  11  Tobacco Research Council: Review of Activities, 1970-74, page 15.

  12  Covering letter of the Lord Hunter of Newington to Health Ministers of the United Kingdom dated 5 December 1978 to Second Report of the Independent Scientific Committee of Smoking and Health.

  13  Standing Scientific Liaison Committee Note on "Background and Terms of Reference", July 1971, Annex C.

  14  Standing Scientific Liaison Committee Report, 1972, page 4.

  15  First Report of the Independent Scientific Committee on Smoking and Health, 1975, Appendix I.

  16  First Report of the Independent Scientific Committee on Smoking and Health, 1975, page 1.

  17  Fourth Report of the Independent Scientific Committee on Smoking and Health, 1988, page 2.

  18  Robert Waller and Sir Peter Froggatt, "Product Modification", British Medical Journal Bulletin 1996; 52 No 1: 193-205.

  19  Third Report of the Independent Scientific Committee on Smoking and Health, 1983, foreword.

  20  Fourth Report of the Independent Scientific Committee on Smoking and Health, 1988, foreword.

  21  Fourth Report of the Independent Scientific Committee on Smoking and Health, 1988, page 2.

  22  Second Report of the Independent Scientific Commitee on Smoking and Health, 1979, page 6.

  23  Second Report of the Independent Scientific Committee on Smoking and Health, 1979, page 7.

  24  First Report of the Independent Scientific Committee on Smoking and Health, 1975, page 6.

  25  Fourth Report of the Independent Scientific Committee on Smoking and Health, 1988, page 26.

  26  1981 Voluntary Agreement on Advertising, Promotion and Health Warnings, Product Modification and Research.

  27  The Tobacco Products Research Trust 1982-96, Cheryl Swann and Sir Peter Froggatt, preface, pages 1-2.

  28  Hansard, Commons, Sessions 1970-71, Vol 813, column 1190.

  29  1986 Voluntary Agreement on Tobacco Products Advertising and Promoting, and Health Warnings, Appendix 7.

  30  Note published in House of Commons Official Report, 10 July 1962.

  31  Speech of George Howarth MP at CitzenCard launch, 15 February 1999.

  32  CitzenCard News Release, 15 February 1999.

  33  Report of the Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health, Annex D.

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