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David Taylor: The appalling conclusion from all the evidence in the public domain is that urban and deprived areas in the UK, including Wales, are specifically targeted. It is not solely the third world that is seen as a market to which tobacco companies can transfer their products as smoking declines among the adult population.
Teenage girls are more likely to take up smoking than their male counterparts. The presumption of sophistication and the perception of cigarettes as a method of keeping weight down are a factor in their starting to smoke, which suggests that our society is sending mixed messages to young women some years off adulthood. Thirty-three per cent. of pregnant women continue to smoke during pregnancya figure that increases dramatically to 51 per cent. among pregnant women in low-income households. The Royal College of Midwives says:
Cigarettes are wrongly seen as a way of dealing with stress; in fact, they act as a habitual crutch and lead to the storing up of stress. Pregnancy, like life, can be incredibly stressful, as my wife has told me on five or six occasions. Some pregnant women regard cigarettes as a form of personal reward, but the stress of pregnancy is as nothing compared with the stress of a child with behavioural difficulties or the premature loss of a parent.
In conclusion, the Bill is not about puritanical non-smokers dictating the lifestyle habits of a significant minority, but is a call for a halt to the voracious appetite of huge tobacco corporations, which last year made pre-tax profits of about £3 billion from the beguiling effects of advertising and their endless pursuit of higher profits at the expense of people's lives and health. The tobacco industry has more than sufficient residual scope to push its drugs even when the Bill is enacted. It can do so through product placement on television and films, the use of public figures and celebrities, continued advertising in tobacco retailers' premises and supermarket kiosks and the internet loophole, which is the only regrettable aspect of the Bill. With that exception, the Bill is a vital step in improving the nation's health and I commend it to the House.
Richard Ottaway (Croydon, South): Listening to the hon. Member for North-West Leicestershire (David Taylor), who said that brand names portrayed an aura of luxury, I could not help but think of the slogan of Camel cigarettes"You can with a Camel." I had a vision of Arabs sitting around an oasis thinking, "Oh gosh, this is a life of luxury." I hope that that demonstrates the balderdash that he has been talking for the last few minutes.
I confess that I am in danger of falling into the category of tainted Conservativetainted by the tobacco industryas twice in my life I have been closely involved with the city of Nottingham, for which I was proud to be a Member of Parliament from 1983 to 1987. The tobacco industry was the largest employer in the city, and played an important part in the local economy. I am also a graduate of Bristol university. Anyone who knows that university will know that it was built entirely by tobacco money. Indeed, the main building is called the Wills Memorial building. The hon. Member for North-West Leicestershire therefore portrayed the tobacco industry rather unfairly, as it has created jobs, prosperity and opportunity for generations of people for centuries.
David Taylor: Developing the hon. Gentleman's argument a little, one could almost suggest that the occasional philanthropic gestures of slave traders were sufficient to justify their evil activities. His argument does not hold water at all.
Richard Ottaway: The hon. Gentleman is right; the tobacco industry succeeded the slave trade in Bristol, but before we go into the rights and wrongs of Wilberforce and others, we should stick to the principle of debating the Bill.
I support the reasoned amendment. I cannot support the Bill because I am simply not persuaded by Government Members that it will have the effect that they say it will. Listening to today's debate, I could not help but have a sense of deja vu, and was reminded of our foxhunting debates over the years. The argument involves morality versus freedom, and, as a member of the liberal wing of the Conservative party, I favour the case for freedom. It also involves pragmatism versus idealism. There is no easy answer to the problem, although there is in the eyes of the Government"Ban it"but I am uncomfortable with such intervention.
Dr. Stoate: Does the hon. Gentleman really believe that tobacco advertising has no effect whatever on the consumption of tobacco? Does he honestly think that young people are not in any way seduced into smoking by advertising?
The hon. Member for Glasgow, Anniesland (John Robertson) asked whether tobacco would be banned if it were discovered today. That is a fair question, but I do not think that it would be. The Government are relaxing the rules on cannabis and, in my view, are heading for decriminalisation, which is also favoured by the Liberal Democrats, who support the Bill. It is therefore unlikely that tobacco would be banned if it were discovered today.
At the moment, the ban on tobacco sales to children under 16 is not working because high taxation is driving up smuggling. Twenty-one per cent. of all tobacco sales in this country are illicit, and many are sales to children.
The Government claim that the Bill will result in a 2.5 per cent. reduction in consumption. To be fair to them, the estimates fluctuate between nil and 5 per cent. Earlier today, the figure of 7 per cent. was mentioned. There have been many studies into the effects of legislation of this sort, and in my judgment none is conclusive.
The Smee report was not conclusive. The evidence was incomplete and it was a report of limited scope. There was no proper analysis of the market. It reported a study that found that advertising had no statistical significant effect. In 1993, as I said in an intervention, the author was reported as saying that the report
The second report, to which the Secretary of State referred in his opening remarks, was that of the World Bank, entitled "Curbing the Epidemic". The report stated that the most effective way of curbing tobacco consumption was through managed price controls. As my hon. Friend the Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox) said in his excellent introductory speech, the multi-prong strategy is the most effective. The World Bank report was based on other reports by the same authors, who found that although public health advocates assert that tobacco advertising increases cigarette consumption, there is significant empirical literature that finds little or no effect of tobacco advertising on smokers. That is from the author of the report on which the Secretary of State is relying.
The KPMG report found that in Norway, Iceland, Italy and Finland the trends were not affected by the tobacco advertising ban. Contrary to what has been said, the trend in Norway and Italy, despite bans, remains upwards.
Will the Bill make a difference? Will it reduce smoking among children and teenagers? In its report of 1990, the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys set out a detailed analysis of the characteristics of what makes children smoke. The first characteristic was gender. Women and girls are more likely to smoke than boys. If they have brothers and sisters who smoke, they are more likely to smoke. If they have parents who smoke, they are more likely to smoke. If they are the children of single parents, they are more likely to smoke. Children who leave school earlier than others are more likely to smoke. Those who have less negative vibes about smoking are more likely to smoke.
Given that evidence, I am not necessarily persuaded that advertisements cause people to take up smoking. I recognise that there are some studies that state that they do. However, the tobacco industry says that it is going for brand marketing. It is fighting for its market share. If there is no brand marketing, the UK will see a flood of cheap imports from eastern Europe. I would rather have our low-tar branded products than the camel dung that is likely to come into the UK.