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21 Oct 2002 : Column 85continued
Mr. Flook: Many Conservative Members are greatly concerned that the ability of the tobacco companies to spend their way to success by advertising their products will be replaced by the tobacco companies employing lawyers to run circles around the Government by being inventive with such poorly drafted legislation.
I am pleased that the Opposition will not vote against Third Reading, but they have come up with the most extraordinary smokescreens to prevent tobacco companies from being stopped in their attempts to addict people, which is what they are about. They are living in cloud cuckoo land if they think that tobacco manufacturers will happily agree to effective voluntary measures. Those companies have spent a fortune defending claims that they have given people cancer. A chilling John Grisham thriller, which was made into a film, portrayed tobacco manufacturers going through the courts to ensure that they did not have to pay big damages. I am sure that that depiction was close to the truth. Tobacco manufacturers have spent a fortune on targeting young people. They now want to get cigarettes more widely smoked within the third world and developing countries. There is no way that they will voluntarily do anything that stops them making profits.
The next smokescreen concerns the prevalence of smuggling. No one says that a ban on advertising is the only measure or the panacea. It has to work alongside measures to tackle smuggling, but smuggling would not be profitable if people had not been persuaded into becoming addicted to smoking. The hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton) said that we were suggesting a ban on smoking. The argument on Second Reading that we were removing civil liberties did not stand up. Conservative Members were pushed into admitting that the only limitation on civil liberties was the liberty of the tobacco manufacturers to addict people to smoking. People will still have the freedom to choose whether they will smoke.
As a non-smoker, my civil liberties have been abused for years by people blowing smoke in my face and forcing me to participate in passive smoking, but I have never sought to ban that. I could easily make that argument, however, because my civil liberties have been impinged.
This morning I launched a healthy living centre in Amber Valley to encourage healthier communities. Its role is to promote a range of measures, in particular the reduction of health inequalities, as discussed so eloquently by my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (James Purnell). The centre promotes measures on healthy eating, deals with health in the workplace and highlights proposals on exercise and on mental nourishment through arts programmes. It also promotes ways to help elderly people to live independently. But what is the point of promoting that range of public health measures if we still allow the promotion of a drug that is one of our biggest killers? What is the point of putting all that extra money into our hospitals to pick up the pieces created by the appalling promotion of that drug? What is the point of including all the measures in primary care, which is doing wonderful things in my area? They enable the setting up of anti-smoking clinics, which pick up the pieces. The Bill is essential and I am delighted that it is making progress.
On Second Reading, I mentioned several issues that related to young people from my experience in my constituency. I visited a school and read out a poem that a young child had written about how awful smoking was. It was effective and moving, and I spoke to many young children about the desperation that they felt because their father or grandfather smoked.
We went on to the early teen stage, when children are vulnerable. I drew attention to a theatrical project in one of my schools in which a year 7 boy talked about why he believed that he might smoke. He said that he had not smoked because he thought that it was dangerous. He then paused and said straight to camera in a video booth by himself, XBut I think I probably will start smoking when I get older and I just don't know why." We know why. This evening, hon. Members have mentioned the
Tobacco manufacturers will not voluntarily give up advertising. They want to be able to promote their products. They need to get children addicted. If they cannot do that in this country, they will do so in third world countries and try to spread smoking there.
I am delighted that the Bill will be passed. Tomorrow morning, members of the Stroke Association will take a petition to Downing street that argues for more facilities for stroke patients. We want to move quickly on that. I shall be pleased to join them and be able to say that at least we are introducing a measure that will result in fewer strokes.
I visited my local branch of the Stroke Association a couple of weeks ago in stroke awareness week. I talked to people about the problems that they had experienced as stroke patients. My dad died of a stroke. He was a smoker who gave up smoking after his first stroke. However, soon after he retired, he had a second stroke. He never had a chance to enjoy his retirement. I shall be pleased to tell people from the Stroke Association tomorrow that today we took steps to ban tobacco advertising.
Pete Wishart: Again, I am the sole representative on these Benches. I am delighted to follow the hon. Member for Amber Valley (Judy Mallaber). I have heard her speak on the matter on a couple of occasions, and she speaks elegantly and with commitment. It is unfortunate that we have reached the last few speeches on the subject, which has been kicking around both Houses for some time.
I am delighted to contribute to Third Reading and to reach that stage. People who work in health care, including primary care and cancer wards, will be prepared to congratulate the House this evening. There will be general delight throughout the country. Only the tobacco companies will be unhappy about today's proceedings. They will no longer be able to promote their poisonous product with impunity.
The journey towards the measure began in Edinburgh when the Scottish National party MSP Nicola Sturgeon promoted her private Member's Bill to attempt to ban tobacco advertising in Scotland. We believed that the Government prevaricated this time last year, and that Ministers' statements were ambiguous. Perhaps we were impatient, and the Government fully intended to introduce a Bill as soon as possible. However, last summer, we believed that the Government needed gentle encouragement along the road to ensure that we reached our current position. I am glad that we played our little part in the Scottish Parliament.
We were disappointed that the Queen's Speech did not include a Bill to ban tobacco advertising. If we could not have a full United Kingdom ban, at least the Scottish Parliament had the power to ban tobacco advertising in Scotland. However, let us be clear: we wanted a full UK ban, which is superior, just as a full European Union ban would be superior to UK legislation alone.
Since that time, Lord Clement-Jones's Bill has been adopted and we withdrew our measure in the Scottish Parliament. However, let us give credit where it is due. Nicola Sturgeon and our colleagues on the Health and Community Care Committee of the Scottish Parliament deserve credit for helping us to reach our current stage. They formed part of the tapestry that led us to Third Reading. I do not believe that we would be here without the gentle encouragement of Lord Clement-Jones, Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Parliament at a time when a great deal of backtracking was going on.
The Scottish National party and Plaid Cymru are satisfied that the Bill is comprehensive and will significantly reduce smoking and thereby smoking-related disease. It was important that the Bill was amended but remained comprehensive. I am pleased that the Conservatives' amendments were not supported. The Bill is now comprehensive, leaves tobacco advertisers nowhere to go and gives them no hope for future advertising opportunities.
Several hon. Members have talked about culture and the dangerous age between 12 and 17 when young people appear to be attracted to smoking. I have an 11-year-old son, and he and his friends can be pious when they talk about smoking. They can cite chapter and verse about why smoking is bad for people but I fear for them when they go to secondary school because something dramatic happens then. We should undertake a qualitative study to ascertain what happens between the ages of 12 and 17 that encourages young people to start smoking.
I agree with the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton) who was worried about product placement. The Bill does not cover that comprehensively and I share his anxieties about cigarettes and drinks being advertised in soap operas. My previous honourable profession in the music industry has a part to play. We need role models and people who will champion an anti-smoking cause. One rock star or film star with a cigarette in his hand is worth more than 100 tobacco-advertising billboards. We must do more to challenge that culture. We must try to adopt champions for that and make progress.
As the Minister said, the tobacco industry will try to circumvent the Bill. When tobacco companies lose hundreds of smokers a day, they need new recruits and they will do anything to find them. We must remain vigilant and, if necessary, revisit the measure if loopholes appear.
I congratulate the Government on pushing the Bill through this evening. I also congratulate the House of Lords and the Scottish Parliament on their work in ensuring that we reached our current stage. We have a good Bill that will significantly reduce smoking and smoking-related disease throughout the United Kingdom.