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8.7 pm

Mr. Adrian Bailey (West Bromwich, West): I welcome the Bill. I spoke on Second Reading of the Bill that was introduced in January 2001, and nothing that I

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have heard or seen since has persuaded me that the comments that I made in that debate were anything but correct.

Many contributions have been made. I found incredible the logic that the hon. Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox) used in trying to adopt some sort of philosophical rationale for opposing the Bill. It is odd that he seems to find it acceptable to introduce legislation designed to prevent tobacconists and retailers from selling tobacco products to children under 16, but also to support tobacco manufacturers' advertising that is designed to seduce such children into buying cigarettes and tobacco products illegally. We must be aware that the evidence that has been given by a number of speakers on the basis of documents produced by the tobacco manufacturers themselves makes it clear beyond all doubt that the manufacturers promote their advertising in a way that is designed to get young children who are under 16 to buy tobacco products.

Many statistics have been cited. Some 330 people a day are killed by cigarettes. That in itself does not convey the wider damage done by cigarette smoking—the reduced quality of life that people suffer as a result. One has only to hear the hacking coughs on the trains in the morning. Those people are trapped in a nicotine hell, and they want to get out. In addition, there is the suffering of people who do not smoke cigarettes, and have never wanted to, but are trapped in enclosed spaces with those who do. That has done great damage, and continues to do so. Asthma has increased, and the whole range of health statistics clearly demonstrates that respiratory illnesses are increasing as a result of active and passive tobacco smoking.

There has been much dispute about the number of deaths that the Bill will prevent, but even under the fairly low estimate given by the Government—I think that they deliberately pitched it low, at 2.5 per cent.—3,000 more deaths a year will be prevented. Bodies such as the World Health Organisation have produced estimates of 7 per cent., which would more than double that number. It has been estimated that in my local authority of Sandwell, 672 people a year die as a result of smoking, so 2.5 per cent. would represent only 17 people. However, if I were to stand here and oppose a measure that would prevent the deaths of 17 people in my local borough, I would rightly be heavily criticised. I cannot understand the logic of Conservative Members who are doing just that, given that people in their constituencies will live longer as a consequence of the Bill.

Mr. Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight): I am following the hon. Gentleman's arguments closely. He will be aware of a report published in 1996 which surveyed four countries that had introduced an advertising ban, two of which subsequently experienced an increase in smoking. How does he account for that?

Mr. Bailey: The Smee report, which detailed death rates after advertising bans had been introduced in Norway, Finland, France and New Zealand, clearly demonstrates that the Bill will be very effective as part and parcel of a package of measures. I welcome it as part of the Government's anti-smoking drive and have every confidence that it will be effective. I could mention one

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or two other measures that should have been included in the Bill, but I shall try to take a disciplined approach to the debate.

A local smoking cessation policy in my area has weaned about 1,000 people off smoking for a year. My local health authority estimates that the cost of so doing was £700 per person. By contrast, the cost of clinical intervention to deal with people who are trying to give up smoking or suffering the consequences averages £17,000 per person. So the taxpayer pays either £700 to wean someone off smoking in the first place or an average of £17,000 when they have reached such a state that clinical intervention is required. Such policies not only enhance the lives of individuals but save money for the taxpayer.

The hon. Member for Castle Point (Bob Spink) said clearly and decisively, in contradiction of the Conservative Front-Bench spokesman, that advertising pays and that tobacco companies would not spend money on advertising if it were not effective. My personal experience of rearing a stepson, and seeing his and his friends' attitudes to smoking, suggests that advertising is a very effective way of weaning people who were opposed to smoking when younger on to smoking once they are older, and who find that the social pressures on them to do so are so overwhelming that they are compelled to conform to them.

My hon. Friend the Member for Amber Valley (Judy Mallaber) gave an eloquent and informative discourse on those pressures. My son and his friends were completely opposed to smoking when they played in football and rugby teams as young lads. Then, when they got a bit older, they became part of wider social circle and gradually succumbed to the seductive lure of the odd cigarette. Some of them are now addicted—they have entered that tobacco-lined death row that cigarette manufacturers offer everybody.

Young people succumb because it seems to be cool behaviour. It is an easy way to appear to be an adult among their peers that requires no great sophisticated skills—all they need do is succumb to the proffered cigarette. If they become addicted, they will reckon that they probably have 30 years before having to face the consequences. Eighteen-year-olds tend to feel indestructible, and the threat of cancer in 30 years' time seems a far distant penalty for something that enables them to be cool and acceptable.

I approve the measures in the Bill to end sports sponsorship. I have always thought it ironic that sportsmen—icons who are looked upon by many teenagers as the epitome of fit athletes—can find themselves willingly or unwillingly having to promote a product that is intrinsically unhealthy and damaging compared with the sports in which they participate. Hon. Members have talked about freedom. The Bill will enhance athletes' freedom to avoid becoming involved in that situation. The measures are especially welcome in relation to Formula 1 racing. There is no doubt that young lads see motor racing as a glamorous and cool sport, and its association with cigarettes and tobacco is highly effective in promoting the acceptance of smoking among that group.

I welcome the Bill above all for doing something that I did not at first appreciate, but have gradually become more aware of. It is another step towards making smoking non-normal and non-acceptable. Sometimes I go into public buildings and see people disregarding "no

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smoking" signs with total impunity. If one protests or asks the management to do something about it, one is almost made out to be in the wrong, yet all one is doing is upholding the regulations of that place, which make it acceptable to everyone else. Tobacco advertising billboards convey the impression that smoking is a normal part of life. It is, for 28 per cent. of the public, but most people do not want it to be. Even some of those who make up that percentage do not want to smoke. By banning adverts, we remove an element of the social geography that conveys that smoking is normal.

The Bill alone will not be hugely successful. [Laughter.] It will make an impact on the 17 people in my borough who will live as a result of it. For them, it will be profoundly successful. Conservative Members laugh, but the measure will prove important for families who will not have to watch their loved ones die a painful, unpleasant death from smoking. It ill behoves hon. Members to make mocking and cynical comments.

The statistical difference that the measure will make is marginal but significant. It is part and parcel of a process that will make smoking less acceptable and thereby gradually transform people's social habits. We hope that it will change people's quality of life and health and also benefit the Exchequer. I therefore support its Second Reading.

8.21 pm

Pete Wishart (North Tayside): We in the SNP and Plaid Cymru warmly welcome Second Reading. We agree with the Government's contention that if the Bill is adopted, it will significantly reduce smoking-related disease, illness and death. We have long argued for a rigorous tobacco advertising ban that covers everything including billboards, the internet, brand-stretching and sports sponsorship. However, for it to be successful, it must work in tandem with a general anti-smoking policy. Although we are relatively satisfied with the progress that the Government have made since "Smoking Kills", we remain worried about the levelling off of the number of people who stop smoking and the increase in smoking among young women and girls, which several other hon. Members have mentioned.

Like other hon. Members, we have examined the experience of other countries, especially those where partial bans or voluntary agreements exist. We remain disappointed by the rate of the fall in tobacco consumption there because we found that tobacco companies simply switch from banned media to non-banned media. We prefer the examples that the Secretary of State and other hon. Members gave of Finland, Norway, Canada and France where there is a total, all-encompassing ban, which has led to a fall in consumption of between 15 per cent. and 34 per cent. We therefore encourage the Government to continue to be rigorous and to introduce an all-encompassing ban.

The Bill must be perceived as a process, not a one-off event. There is no doubt that tobacco advertisers will try to challenge the measure and push it to its limits. They are in an industry that loses a significant amount of consumers every day through a smoking-related illness, or a combination of them, and they therefore do all that they can to find new recruits. We must remain vigilant and if necessary re-examine the measure.

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I pay tribute to Lord Clement-Jones for persevering with his Bill in the other place. We should also be generous and congratulate Nicola Sturgeon and her colleagues in the Scottish Parliament on promoting a similar Bill.

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