Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill

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Mr. Barron: Does the hon. Lady think that the promotion of other products through coupons in cigarette packets should not be covered by the Bill at all?

Mrs. Spelman: I question whether the Bill is going too far. It will cover a range of non-tobacco items that do not promote tobacco smoking directly. The motivation for younger people to smoke is that they like to look cool. They give in to peer pressure; everyone is doing it, and they like to have a branded product that looks fashionable. That has nothing whatever to do with collecting a bone china mug.

Mr. Barron rose—

Mrs. Spelman: I think that the hon. Gentleman has made his point.

The purpose of the amendment is to distinguish between coupons for tobacco products and non-tobacco products.

Amendments Nos. 12 and 13 would make the distinction between coupons for tobacco products—about which we agree with the Government, although we want to discuss the value of those products later—and other products that have nothing whatever to do with tobacco, which it is unnecessarily draconian to include in the remit of the Bill.

Mr. Barron indicated dissent.

Mrs. Spelman: The hon. Gentleman obviously does not agree. He thinks that it is perfectly acceptable to shut down an outlet for manufacturers' products. He is happy to see that happen. He will make his own speech on the matter if he feels strongly about it.

Mr. Barron: I shall speak against the amendments. I wanted to intervene to say that the coupons that the hon. Lady describes are covered by the voluntary codes. Indeed, there is a lot of restriction on what can and cannot be advertised via coupons. They are a form of direct mail that promotes cigarettes in many homes up and down this country. That is well evidenced by companies having their activities restricted by the appropriate authority. Clearly, the amendments would be a way of circumventing the intention behind the Bill.

Everyone thinks that such provisions are not well thought out. However, coupons have an important impact, especially in areas where there is a high incidence of smoking. The Committee should consider what the tobacco industry itself says. I have in front of me an analysis of internal documents from the tobacco industry's main UK advertising agencies. Evidence submitted to the Health Committee by CDP, one of the five main advertisers in this country, on the Kensitas club gift scheme included a Gallaher creative brief dated 5 November 1999. It states:

    ``Who are we talking to:

    Glasgow's smokers—they smoke because they enjoy it. They also love the gift scheme with over 50 per cent of the Club franchise unemployed this probably explains its popularity.''

They deliberately target the high incidence of smokers among poor people in this country. They know that they get people hooked on tobacco and coupons. It is unbelievable that that is not a part of the culture of the homes to which such material is sent. That culture affects not only adults who smoke. Such material lies around for children and everyone else in the household to read.

Mr. David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire): Does my hon. Friend agree that after hearing today's debate it would be a good idea to announce the formation of a parliamentary group called ``Conservatives for carcinogens''?

Mr. Barron: Perhaps I am not the person to answer that question. As I said on Second Reading, I have always felt that there has been a link between the purveyors of such products and the Conservative party for far too long—an unhealthy link in terms of the public's health. The amendments designed by Opposition Members could easily have been designed by people who use such coupons to promote tobacco in this country, and I hope that the Committee will have none of them.

Mr. Ian Bruce: I shall speak later on clause stand part, as I do not want to speak incorrectly to the amendments. However, now is the appropriate time to tell the Minister that I understand where she and the hon. Member for Rother Valley are coming from. Coupons relating to cigarette products are designed to get people hooked on collecting coupons as well as to continue smoking. I have no argument with the Government on that. Those are my bona fides on the matter. However, the clause is, like all the rest of the clauses, incredibly badly worded.

Under the clause, buying petrol and a pack of 20 cigarettes at a Fina petrol station will make the Fina loyalty card that I have here illegal. That card allows people to save up and receive a token from the promoter of petrol, although that promoter also sells tobacco and no doubt makes a great deal of profit from the tobacco sold through its garages. That coupon can be spent in other shops such as W.H. Smith and Woolworths, among others. The clause will catch such activity.

People who go to Tesco to buy their groceries and cigarettes receive a discount coupon that eventually allows them to buy anything. It would be fairly simple for the Government to approach the matter again on a voluntary basis or, perhaps, through legislation to make it clear to such people that a coupon given out under such loyalty schemes could not be used to buy tobacco products. That might be a simple way to deal with the matter. However, under the Bill as it stands, by not specifying tobacco products, we leave such loyalty schemes open to being dealt with in that way.

I have an Egg card. If I buy anything on line, I receive a 2 per cent. discount. I could be buying tobacco on line, not that Egg has anything to do with the tobacco industry, but people can receive, for example, 1 per cent. discount on items because they have used their credit card. The catch-all clause will catch ordinary loyalty schemes. I see some extraordinary looks on the faces of the advisers to the hon. Lady. After 1 o'clock, she should have a firm word with them because she has been led down the garden path into doing things that she did not intend to do.

12.45 pm

Yvette Cooper: The purpose of the clause is to stop the giving away of products or coupons when the effect of such action is to promote tobacco products. The hon. Member for South Dorset expressed his worry about loyalty cards such as Egg. Such cards are promoting his spending. Companies want him to spend money. If they do not specifically promote tobacco products, they are not covered under the Bill. The Bill will catch the giving away of products or coupons, the purpose or effect of which is to promote a tobacco product.

The Opposition's amendments would focus the clause on the giving away of tobacco products or coupons that are redeemable for tobacco. A packet of cigarettes may contain a coupon that can be redeemed for petrol, watches or a pop-up toaster. The current Marlboro offer states:

    ``Just send us three Marlboro Menthol Lights pack tops and we'll send you this lighter—absolutely free!''.

It is often a standard approach to give away coupons that are redeemable for products other than tobacco. I accept that some coupons are aimed at those who do not smoke because they are available only in packets of cigarettes, but they are clearly an incentive for people to carry on smoking and buying that particular brand.

Part of the Bill is aimed at new smokers, young people and those who may not otherwise start smoking. It is aimed also at those who want to give up smoking. We know that 70 per cent. of smokers say that they want to give up. They may be trying to give up, but being bombarded with advertising that provides an incentive for them not to give up. That is why we are worried about the giving away of other products, whatever they may be. If coupons or products—even if they are not tobacco products—provide an incentive to keep smoking and buying tobacco products—it is right that they are covered under the Bill.

Mr. Ian Bruce: I direct the Minister's attention to subsection (2), which states:

    ``It does not matter whether the product or coupon accompanies something else, or is given away separately.''

Subsection (5) states:

    ```Coupon' means a document or other thing which (whether by itself or not) can be redeemed for a product or service or for cash or any other benefit.''

Such measures clearly catch people who purchase their tobacco products, use a loyalty card and receive a benefit in kind later. For the Minister to say that using a loyalty card is not helping the tobacco industry to promote its products, as all products have been promoted by loyalty cards, ignores the advice that she gave to the Committee about how people use such schemes. What is wrong in a person having 20 extra points on his card as a result of the purchase of a packet of cigarettes if that is not covered by the clause?

Yvette Cooper: The clause makes it perfectly clear. If the purpose or effect is to promote a tobacco product, then it is covered. If something promotes spending on anything at all, then it promotes spending. Our concern is schemes the purpose or effect of which is to promote a tobacco product or to promote smoking. The clause seems to me to be relatively clear. I am happy to take further legal advice on the issue and get it clarified, but I struggle to understand why there should be a problem.

There is a legitimate issue here that we should be concerned about, which is the promotion of free non-tobacco products to promote tobacco products. That is what the amendments address, and that is what we are right to reject, because it would be wrong to create a loophole that would allow free products or gifts to be used to promote tobacco products, and to narrow the Bill to promotional tobacco products alone. That is why we reject the amendments.

Mrs. Spelman: I give credit to my hon. Friend the Member for South Dorset; I had not spotted the potential problem. Loyalty cards could be caught under subsection (5) because ``document or other thing'' is a wide definition. I am pleased that the Minister will have another look at that; it is important that we get it right, since loyalty cards are on the increase, people use them and there is no question but that people do redeem them for, among other things, tobacco products.

I listened carefully to the Minister, and to make it perfectly clear, of course we are interested in helping those who want to give up smoking. The majority of smokers in some parts of the country—I think that it is as high as 60 per cent.—have tried to give up, and the amendments are in no way intended to undermine their resolve. It is a moot point whether the provision of non-tobacco products really increases smoking prevalence; sometimes there is a limit, quite frankly, to how many bone china mugs or other such products people actually want cluttering up their cupboard. I have never in my life heard anybody say to me or to a fellow smoker, ``Oh, please smoke a few more, because I am trying to get another one of those bone china mugs.'' We have to bring a degree of common sense—

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