|Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill
Mr. David Taylor: Has my hon. Friend had the opportunity to read the report of the tobacco advisory group of the Royal College of Physicians? It notes that the real issue is the management of nicotine addiction. One would infer that the companies concerned are trying to establish nicotine addiction at an early age. In the most recent surveys, the data of which were compiled in 1998, as high a proportion of 15-year-olds as 30 per cent. regularly smokes.
Mr. Barron: My hon. Friend is right. I do not want to go down that avenue now, although it may be relevant to new clause 2. The regulatory authority was requested by the Royal College of Physicians in that study. It is an excellent study, showing people how addictive nicotine is, how it is delivered in different ways to people in society and the effect of the delivery.
Let me return to the evidence taken by the Select Committee. It shows how the Committee chased round the houses and attempted to find out why advertising would affect only the 18 to 24 age group, and whether we could depend on the voluntary code to ensure that the same advertising did not affect people below the age of 18. Audrey Wise asked someone who was paid by a tobacco company to run its advertising how a distinction could be made under the voluntary code between someone who was under 18, or under 15, and an 18 to 24-year-old. She said:
Mrs. Spelman: I do not think that we are going to hear from the Minister. The discussions suggest that, because of the forthcoming Division in the House, my new clause will have to be decided quickly. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will be pleased to hear that there will be an opportunity to consider his new clause on Report. The matters are important and I interrupt only to remind him that there may not be time for us to hear the Government's reply.
Mr. Barron: I realise that, if I were to sit down now, I could table new clause 2 again on Report. As I would be interested to hear the Minister talk about the new clause, I will do just that.
Yvette Cooper: As this is probably the last time that I will speak in this Committee, may I thank you, Mrs. Adams and, through you, Mr. Malins for your chairmanship of the Committee? It has been good humoured and our discussions have progressed well.
Mrs. Spelman: As there may be no other opportunity to intervene, I want to thank you, Mrs. Adams and, through you, Mr. Malins for the courteous way in which you have regulated our proceedings. The Committee has also conducted itself courteously most of the time.
Yvette Cooper: I welcome the fact that, although the Opposition voted against Second Reading, they have tabled many constructive amendments and accepted many of the principles behind the Bill. That was helpful to our discussions.
I shall confine my comments to new clause 1, because I understand that my hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley does not intend to press new clause 2 now.
I have considerable sympathy with the aims of new clause 1. It is essential to have effective independent evaluation of the impact of the advertising ban and that information must be publicly available. The issue of market share is interesting, but the critical issue concerns the prevalence of smoking in the United Kingdom.
We are keen to have proper and effective evaluation of the legislation, but it would be a mistake to set out in the Bill the specific requirements for research. For example, it is not clear that the under-18 age group is the right one. We may want to consider the under-16s and the 16 to 19 age group.
Subsection (2) of the new clause states that there should be an annual report, but if that requirement were in the Bill, it might become burdensome after 10 years; we might have conclusive results during that period. We need flexibility not simply to respond to the ban and to ensure that the right sort of research is taking place, but to enable us to respond to new needs for research in other areas as they arise.
I confirm that issues concerning research and evaluation and the work of the Health Development Agency will be considered by the Department. It is important to maintain flexibility in the way in which research is commissioned, but our intention is to ensure that there is proper public evaluation of the impact of the Bill. We are keen to see the Bill on the statute book and to evaluate its effect in the light of the considerable health consequences of smoking and the impact of advertising not only on new smokers, but on those who want to give up. Seventy per cent. of smokers say that they want to give up smoking. It is an important part of our health policy to provide support and encouragement for those who want to give up and to break the addiction to a deadly product.
I ask the Committee to reject new clause 1 and look forward to further consideration of the Bill on Report.
Mrs. Spelman: The Minister's comments are encouraging and I am pleased that the Government want to evaluate the Bill in a similar way to that suggested in the new clause. I may return to the matter on Report with some modifications in line with the objectives that we want to achieve.
I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.
Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.
The Chairman: Order. I thank the Committee for behaving so well. I am disappointed that we did not have a vote, because I was interested to see if Little Ben would be allowed to vote. I thank hon. Members for their attendance and kind words.
Bill, as amended, to be reported.
Committee rose at six minutes to Five o'clock.
The following Members attended the Committee:
|©Parliamentary copyright 2001||Prepared 8 February 2001|