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5.31 pm

Mr. Frank Dobson (Holborn and St. Pancras): I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on having had the rather strange privilege of introducing the same excellent Bill twice in two successive Parliaments. Sadly, because of the vagaries of parliamentary procedure and the Conservatives' opposition, the original Bill did not get through the House of Lords in the previous Parliament, but it is here now and we must ensure that it gets through this time. I should also like to thank him for his kind mention of the tobacco White Paper, "Smoking Kills", which was published when I was Secretary of State for Health. I congratulate him on a thoroughgoing implementation of its contents, making possible a concerted approach to reducing smoking in this country.

The Bill is intended to end tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship—and not before time. It is 40 years since the Royal College of Physicians published its report on smoking and health, which demonstrated beyond any doubt that smoking kills, so no one can suggest that the Bill is a rush to judgment. Whenever we discuss smoking and those who wish to continue its promotion, we should continue to keep in mind one simple fact: smoking kills. We should not allow ourselves to be distracted by the specious arguments, delaying tactics and weasel words of the tobacco industry or any of its friends.

If we think of ourselves as part of the animal world, as we must, we can reasonably regard the tobacco industry as a predatory animal, as it has to kill others in order to survive. It must continue to make and sell tobacco products to survive, knowing that half the people who follow the maker's instructions will die. That is the sort of industry that we are talking about. It promotes smoking in the sure and certain knowledge that if it does not continue to promote smoking and the making and selling of its products, it will not be the consumers who die, but the industry. So we have a stark choice: we can support either the tobacco merchants of death, as has happened on previous occasions, or the people whom they would otherwise kill.

In the knowledge that smoking kills, our campaign must, first, try to stop the tobacco industry recruiting new smokers, and, secondly, get existing smokers to desert the ranks of the people whom the tobacco industry does to death. These are all strong words, but they are all true.

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The tobacco industry seeks the reverse of what we seek. Day in, day out, its executives and employees strive to recruit more people to smoke and to keep to a minimum the number of deserters from the ranks of the smokers. People in the tobacco industry understand their position, as they would, given that they are in an industry that in this country kills 120,000 of its customers every year, and obviously needs to recruit another 120,000 customers to make up for those it has killed.They knowingly sell a product that kills, so it follows that they have to take extreme measures, and they knowingly lie. For decades, the principal characteristic of the outward manifestation of the tobacco industry has been big lies to promote big tobacco.

Richard Ottaway: Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Dobson: No, not for the moment.

People in the tobacco industry promoted three big lies. First, they said that tobacco did not kill; then they said that tobacco was not addictive; then they said, as they are still saying, that they did not want to recruit new smokers. All those lies have been exposed as such.

The claim that tobacco smoking does not pose a threat to health has been exposed as a lie. Originally—I give them the benefit of the doubt—people in the tobacco industry and its promoters may actually have believed that their product was not harmful. Subsequently, however, they knew from their own research, as well as that of others, that it was harmful, yet they practised and peddled the lie. They knew that they were lying; they knew that they were trying to deceive the public and potential smokers. Finally, they had to admit that smoking is harmful to health. We have now reached the preposterous situation whereby the boss of British American Tobacco says that he tells his children,

then runs an advertising campaign to try to persuade everybody else's children to smoke. That is rank hypocrisy and a disgrace.

For years, people in the tobacco industry denied that tobacco was addictive. Again, they may have believed that at the beginning, but they subsequently knew from their own research—not someone else's—that tobacco was addictive. So what did they do? They decided to start growing tobacco that had more of the addictive characteristics, and, because that might prove to be difficult in the United States, they did it in Brazil and Zimbabwe in the hope that nobody would notice. They lied, then tried to make their product more addictive. Now, they have finally had to admit to their second big lie and accept that tobacco—or rather nicotine—is addictive.

The third great lie, which is still being perpetuated—sadly, some Conservative Members, either knowingly or otherwise, are going along with it—is that the industry is not trying to recruit new smokers. There is no first stage in that respect—people in the industry have always known that they were lying when they said that, because they were doing the recruiting. Why do they spend £130 million a year in this country on trying to promote tobacco sales if they are not trying to recruit new smokers? They are not giving £130 million-worth of outdoor relief to advertising executives; they are trying to

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recruit new people and to keep existing smokers on their list. They have deployed all sorts of different techniques over the years, but still deny that they have been doing so.

John Robertson (Glasgow, Anniesland): Does my right hon. Friend agree that if tobacco was discovered today, it would be banned along with all the other drugs that have been banned?

Mr. Dobson: That is probably true, but trying to prohibit it would not work and might interfere with the individual liberty about which the hon. Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox) was so concerned. As my hon. Friend the Member for Amber Valley (Judy Mallaber) said, we are trying not to restrict any individual but to prevent fat-cat bosses in the industry from persuading people to start or to continue smoking. That is all that we are talking about.

We do not want to stop Tom, Dick or Harry, but Ken and his mates. [Hon. Members: "Where is he?"] I am sorry that the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke) is not here. I have a high opinion of him; I like him and believe that he is the sort of person whom most of us would get on with. I cannot understand why he gets involved in the tobacco industry—it is beneath him.

The lie about not recruiting smokers includes a subsidiary lie that the industry is not targeting young people. If it is not, it is barmy. Almost everyone who smokes starts young; hardly anyone does so when old. Indeed, hardly anyone over 20 starts smoking. As night follows day, it follows that tobacco companies target their efforts on the young. There is clear evidence of that from information that had to be disclosed through court cases in the United States. It shows that the industry wants early recruits and knows that the product is addictive. It could be summed up in the slogan, "Get 'em young and you've got 'em for life." That is a disgraceful approach, but it characterises all the industry's actions.

The industry claims that it no longer targets children, but now emphasises that smoking is an adult activity. That is simply a change of tactics intended to make smoking more attractive to young people and portray it as something that the rebellious do—something that grown-ups do. It is all part of the promotion.

We must try not only to prevent recruitment but to get existing smokers off their habit. The Government are implementing the approaches that were set out in the White Paper to which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State kindly referred. Banning tobacco advertising is only part of a general drive. The advertising ban is good, but we need to be careful about the way in which we formulate it.

Clear evidence shows that for more than 20 years the tobacco industry has been planning methods of coping with an advertising ban. British American Tobacco's objectives state:

That was said in 1979. We must be prepared, because the tobacco industry has been preparing for 20 years to cope with the problems that it will face as a result of a ban on advertising. It is still at it.

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We must be careful that the industry does not use the point of sale—for example, a shop—as a huge advertisement by turning it into a glowing, sparkling fag packet. We must make sure that, when brand-stretching, it does not open cafés that resemble packets of cigarettes, with their logos and colour schemes, as happened in Malaysia. We must watch that.

It has recently been revealed that the tobacco industry has paid Hollywood millions of pounds to persuade film companies to get people to smoke on TV so that the camera can focus on the cigarette logo as often as possible. We know about another shameless activity, which involves the fashion industry. I do not know whether tobacco industry money goes into it—no one would expect me to understand the ins and outs of the fashion industry—but young women, who are admired by girls and other young women, smoke cigarettes on the catwalk but not in their private life. There is something wrong there, and we need to watch all such developments. We must get ahead of the game.

I understand from the Clerks that we cannot strengthen this Bill, and that my proposal is outside its scope. I believe, however, that, in view of the deathly nature of the product of the tobacco industry, we should require it to disclose all its market research and scientific research, in the first instance to the Department of Health and then to the public.

The opponents of the advertising ban have advanced three arguments. The first is that if the industry does not have to spend money on promotion, it will be able to reduce its prices. Fine—if we want to maintain a constant price, all that we need to do is increase the tax. That would be good for people's health, good for every other taxpayer, and good for the public services that received the money.

That takes us on to the second argument—that the ban might lead to more smuggling. Smuggling is portrayed as though it is not only the Exchequer, British taxpayers, the public and those who depend on publicly financed services who are being swindled. The impression being created by the tobacco industry is that, somehow or other, it is being swindled. Far from it: it is being paid for every cigarette that is smuggled. Perhaps, therefore, we should consider a tax at the production end of the tobacco industry, and catch it out that way.

Perhaps there is an alternative. We need to get the scale of the worldwide tobacco problem clear in our minds. More people will die this year from tobacco use than from all the military action in the world. We force companies to obtain export licences and produce end-user certificates for armament exports. We should examine the possibility of requiring the deathly products of the tobacco industry to be subject to end-user certificates. We must take this seriously. Tobacco kills more people than all the battles and fighting going on in the world.

That brings me to the third argument. The hon. Member for Woodspring has gone on about freedom of choice. An addict does not have freedom of choice. An addict's choice is biased in favour of the addiction. If that were not the case, the 70 per cent. of smokers who want to give up would have done so. It is difficult to give up smoking, and the tobacco industry has known that all along. We must remember that, when most people took up smoking,

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they were not in a position to make a mature judgment, because they were not mature. They were in their "salad days", and "green in judgment". They were probably 10 or 11, or perhaps 13 or 14 years old when they made their erroneous judgment and got themselves addicted. Now, apparently, in the name of freedom of choice, we are told that more and more generations have to join them. That is not good enough, and it must be changed.

The Bill will provide some of the changes, and it is therefore very welcome. About 3,000 lives will be saved in the United Kingdom as a result of the ban. I have been in the House since 1979, and I have seldom taken part in a debate in which, if we voted the right way, 3,000 lives would be saved. Indeed, that might be an underestimate, because the European Union and the World Health Organisation have said that a total ban on advertising would reduce smoking by more than the Department of Health's official estimate of 2.5 per cent.

We must work with the European Union. I quite agree with the hon. Member for Woodspring about the scandal of the huge subsidy for growers of inferior tobacco. There is nothing novel about that; it happened when Mrs. Thatcher was Prime Minister and when John Major was Prime Minister. It is still going on now. It ought to be stopped—I agree with the hon. Gentleman entirely—but we need an EU-wide approach and we must support the WHO's approach to try to get an advertising ban worldwide.

Nothing better demonstrates what I can only describe as the moral degeneracy of the people who run the tobacco industry than the fact that, as it has found it harder to sell its deadly product to people in the developed world, it has increasingly pitched its sales promotion at the third world. What sort of people are they? They look at the third world—devastated with malaria, devastated with tuberculosis and more and more devastated with HIV/AIDS. Everybody else says, "What can we do to help?", but the tobacco industry says, "We'll give you lung cancer as well."

Those are the sort of people we are talking about. It epitomises the mindset of the tobacco industry that nothing is more important to it than selling cigarettes, so I urge everyone to vote for the Bill and for a long series of ever tougher measures against smoking.

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