Select Committee on Health Written Evidence

Memorandum by Hunters & Frankau Limited (SP34)

  1.  Hunters & Frankau Ltd is the main importer and distributor in the UK of hand made cigars from Cuba and other Caribbean and Central American countries. Founded in 1790, we are a successful small company based in South West London employing 54 people. We also import and distribute machine made cigars principally from Holland and Germany. We do not distribute any tobacco products other than cigars.

  We are a member of the Imported Tobacco Products Advisory Council (ITPAC) and an associate member of the Association of Independent Tobacco Specialists (AITS).

  We supply cigars to a wide range of licensed businesses in England including restaurants, hotels, pubs, wine bars, casinos and golf clubs, and this business accounts for nearly a quarter of our total annual turnover.

  We believe that the Smokefree Elements of the Health Improvement and Protection Bill, if enacted, will have a damaging effect on our business. As a result we welcome the opportunity offered by the House of Commons Health Committee present this memorandum. We would be willing to attend the Committee and give oral evidence.

  2.  Hunters & Frankau considers that the Government's proposals to restrict smoking in public places are inconsistent with the principles stated by Prime Minister and the then Secretary of State for Health in the Foreword and Preface respectively to the Choosing Health White Paper. (See the statement in Hunters & Frankau's submission (H&F's Submission) to the Consultation Document on the Smokefree Elements of the Health Improvement and Protection Bill under the heading "The General Principles of the Bill—attached.) [39]

  3.  Hunters & Frankau believes there is ample evidence available that the Government can make rapid progress towards its goal to reduce smoking without resorting to legislation that would create new criminal offences and a costly regulatory burden. (See H&F's Submission under the heading "B. Unnecessary"). Furthermore we would welcome the opportunity to report to the Committee at its hearing the latest figures on the sales of our cigars to hotels and restaurants, which we predict will continue to show a decline.

  4.  Hunters & Frankau believes that the danger of passive smoking/secondhand smoke has been greatly exaggerated and that the results of current research indicate that the risks are low. (See H&F's Submission under the heading "C. Unjustified"). We would commend to the Committee two documents on this topic published by FOREST: "The Smoking Issue—an essay by Joe Jackson"; and "Smoking out the truth—a challenge to the Chief Medical Officer by Lord Harris of Highcross".

  5.  Hunters & Frankau believes that the Government's proposals for smokefree exemptions on certain licensed premises are illogical and impractical. (See H&F's Submission under the heading "C. Impractical").

  6.  Hunters & Frankau believes that the Government's proposals do not reflect public opinion and represent a threat to the rights of individuals. (See H&F's Submission under the heading "D…and go too far").

  7.  Hunters & Frankau respectfully asks the Committee to recommend in its report to the Government either to use voluntary means to reach its goals to reduce smoking, or, if legislation is considered unavoidable, to bring forward new proposals that would confine smoking to separate designated rooms in all workplaces whether licensed or not.

  8.  Hunters & Frankau would also ask the Committee to recommend to Government to add (i) the premises of tobacco companies, and (ii) the premises of specialist tobacconists to the list of exempted premises to be contained within the Bill. (See "Hunters & Frankau's response to the questions in the Consultation Document", which is appended to H&F's Submission, at Question 6 and Question 8).

September 2005

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