|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Sir Peter Emery: I do not like to see people smoking when walking along the streets, because it is rather bad manners. However, I do not advocate a ban. One cannot attempt to limit smoking in the open air, and I do not believe that anyone who supports the Bill suggests such a limitation.
The latter part of the reasoned amendment is acceptable. It mentions the Bill's inability to do anything about sporting aspects or the importing of illegal products. Those matters must be tackled, and it is right of the Opposition to criticise the Government when they do not do that. However, I do not agree with the amendment's suggestion that there is "insufficient evidence" that the Bill
My approach is that, if the Bill leads to any reduction in smoking by young people, it is worth while. That applies especially to young women. The dangers that they face if they continue smoking when they become pregnant have been medically proved time and again. I should therefore like much more of the space on the cigarette packet to have to contain a medical warning. I suggested that it should take up 50 per cent. of the space. I believe that that happens in Australia. We cannot give that warning too frequently.
Mr. Chope: Neither Southampton Member--both Southampton constituencies are unfortunately currently represented by the Labour party--is present to defend the interests of those working at British American Tobacco in Southampton. I therefore believed that I needed to intervene in the debate.
Sir Peter Emery: I was about to say that I fully understood my hon. Friend's position. I understand his feeling that he should defend people who may see their jobs put at risk. It is right that a Member of Parliament should highlight that problem, because it is another problem with which the Government will have to cope.
Mr. Peter Atkinson: One Member who did not stand up for his constituents is the Secretary of State for Health. Just outside his constituency is a tobacco factory employing 600 people, most of whom live in the constituency, which makes cigarettes purely for export. The Secretary of State said that he wanted the factory to close.
Sir Peter Emery: I do not think that that is so, and I think the hon. Gentleman is perverse in attempting to lead me down what my father used to call a "salle de cul"--his description of a cul-de-sac.
Advertising must in some way have an effect on the creation of new smokers. The aim is to lead those who do not currently smoke to start smoking, to make up for the hundreds of thousands who, over the years, die as a result of smoking or else give up. The only way in which the industry can keep going is by attracting new smokers. Where must the industry turn? It must turn to younger people, especially women. It is a little like the Roman Catholic Church, which says that if you catch them young, you are likely to have them for ever.
I do not believe that the Bill will entirely cure the problems, but it is worth supporting if it does something to limit the amount of cigarette smoking by the young. I hope very much that my colleagues on the Front Bench will not oppose it tonight.
Mr. David Hinchliffe (Wakefield): I am grateful for the opportunity to speak. The speeches that we have heard so far--with the exception of the Tory Front-Bench spokesman's--have been excellent. That of my hon. Friend the Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden (Mr. Galbraith) was certainly excellent, and it is a particular pleasure to see him here today. I commend the efforts made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson), who had so much to do with the tobacco White Paper. I also thought that the Liberal Democrat contribution made a great deal of sense.
My hon. Friend the Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden said that it was interesting to see colleagues and comrades who had been involved with the issue for so long. That applies to none more than my hon. Friend the
The previous Government's line on the issue is partly echoed in today's reasoned amendment. In the many hours of debate on Bills supported by my hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley and by other Labour Members, Conservative Members argued that such legislation would restrict personal freedom and personal choice. I note that today's reasoned amendment states that the Bill would be a
The reasoned amendment is squalid, and I am sad that the hon. Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox) supports it. I had thought that he had fundamentally changed the Conservative party's position on the issue. It saddens me that they are back to their previous position--hand in glove with the tobacco industry.
The Health Committee, which I have chaired in this Parliament, recognised very early the fundamental importance of the connection between smoking and ill health. Indeed, right at the start of this Parliament, tobacco and the health risks of smoking were the first issues that we identified as requiring an inquiry. We were prevented from conducting a major inquiry into the issue by the legal action being taken against British tobacco companies by former smokers in relation to the health effects that they had suffered. While the matter was sub judice, we were long prevented from examining it. Nevertheless, in our first report at the start of this Parliament, the Committee expressed our concerns about Formula 1's exemption from the sponsorship arrangements.
The right hon. Member for East Devon quoted the Health Committee's 1999 report on the tobacco industry and the health risks of smoking. I was disturbed about many of the issues that we examined in that long inquiry. Although I do not profess to have the detailed knowledge that my hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley and some other hon. Members have about the tobacco companies' activities, the Committee spent many months investigating the tobacco companies' knowledge of the health implications of smoking. The fact is that, even before I was born, the tobacco companies were aware of a clear connection between smoking and cancer.
I was amazed to discover that the first statement in the House on the connection between ill health and smoking was made way back in 1952 or 1953. Hon. Members were thus made aware many years ago of the connection between smoking and ill health. I am concerned that, for very many years, the tobacco companies have turned a blind eye and suppressed the evidence that they had on the connection.
In our inquiry, the Committee attempted to assess the motivation of young people who start smoking. We were particularly concerned about evidence which has already been mentioned today on the increasing number of young
Several thousand pages of paperwork comprising hundreds of documents were submitted to the Committee. Of the huge amounts of evidence that the Committee assessed, perhaps those documents best laid bare what can only be described as the truly cynical behaviour of the tobacco companies and the advertising and promotional firms that served them. Not even in the litigation in the United States, in the class action suit against American tobacco companies, had such material seen the light of day.
As the Secretary of State said in opening the debate, so far, advertising arrangements have been governed by a voluntary code agreed between the Department of Health, cigarette manufacturers and importers and the Advertising Standards Authority. Among other things, the code requires companies to ensure that
Advertisements should . . . avoid employing any approach which is more likely to attract the attention or sympathy of those under the age of 18 . . . no advertisement should exaggerate the pleasure of smoking or claim that it is daring or glamorous to smoke.
I strongly welcome the Bill, which is long overdue. I hope that it will have an important impact on the health of the nation. Nevertheless, I want to express one or two concerns. I have spoken previously about my concerns about clause 18, and the issue of Formula 1 in particular. The first report of the Health Committee in this Session related to that subject. Evidence to the Committee showed that market research concluded that Formula 1 sponsorship made the Benson and Hedges brand "very powerful" as a consequence of its associations with
I cannot accept the Government's argument about the exemption of Formula 1. The arguments used in respect of Formula 1 could have been made by other sports. I have a particular interest in rugby league; the same arguments could have been made to exempt certain sponsorships in that sport. I am glad to see that rugby league is getting rid of its connection with products such as Silk Cut. I hope that the Government will look at the issue again.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras asked what the companies were planning next. My concern is whether the Bill anticipates the future tactics of tobacco companies. Whatever measures the Government take, we can be sure that the tobacco companies and the agencies that they employ will devote enormous resources and ingenuity to their circumvention.
The Committee uncovered plans to advertise heavily in English language newspapers bought by UK nationals in Spain, as well as other projects, including advertising using billboards outside foreign embassies in the UK, since these were not UK territory; starting pirate radio stations; offering golden cigarettes in packs to create millionaires across the country; organising demonstrations in Hyde Park; and even using Silk Cut to sponsor Elastoplast. We need to anticipate those possibilities. They are matters that will, no doubt, be considered in Committee.
Another issue is the failure of the Bill to introduce a tobacco regulatory authority, about which I understand the Government's concerns. Clive Bates of Action on Smoking and Health recently made a valid point in his argument for such an authority. He said: