Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Liquor Advertising and Promotion Bill [H.L.]

3.11 p.m.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, I beg to introduce a Bill to control the advertising and promotion of liquor products; and for connected purposes. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a first time.--(Lord Stoddart of Swindon.)

On Question, Bill read a first time, and to be printed.

Business of the House: Debates, 29th March

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): My Lords, I beg to move the first Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. Noble Lords will be delighted to hear that both today's Motions have been agreed by the usual channels.

The purpose of the first Motion is to enable the business tomorrow to be taken in the following order: first, the debate on NATS standing in the name of my noble friend Lord Macdonald of Tradeston; secondly, the debate on complementary and alternative medicines standing in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Walton of Detchant, and thirdly, the Financial Services Act 2000 (Financial Promotion) Order 2001 standing in the name of my noble friend Lord McIntosh of Haringey.

That is the order of business which has been agreed by the usual channels. However, it is necessary to suspend Standing Order 40 to enable the Motion standing in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald, to be taken first.

Moved, That Standing Order 40 (Arrangement of the Order Paper) be dispensed with tomorrow to enable the Motion standing in the name of the Lord Macdonald of Tradeston to be taken immediately after the Motion relating to the 2nd Report of the Offices Committee.--(Baroness Jay of Paddington.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Business of the House: Election Publications Bill [H.L.]

Baroness Jay of Paddington My Lords, I beg to move the second Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. It may be for the convenience of the House if I explain the background to this matter. The Election Publications Bill was introduced in the House yesterday. It has been agreed by the usual channels that we shall have the Second Reading today and the

28 Mar 2001 : Column 271

remaining stages on Thursday. The purpose of the Bill is to rescind the commencement of certain provisions of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act relating to the imprint on election material which, with hindsight, was brought into force too soon.

We have introduced the Bill following representations from all three main political parties. We need to act quickly as the parties and their candidates have been preparing for--I emphasise--the local elections on 3rd May on the basis of the old imprint requirements. Such material will not comply with the new law. The proposed Bill would therefore enable the parties to work to the old requirements for a further period and so save enormous wastage. I hope that I have explained that satisfactorily.

Moved, That Standing Order 46 (No two stages of a Bill to be taken on one day) be dispensed with tomorrow to allow the Election Publications Bill [H.L.] to be taken through its remaining stages.--(Baroness Jay of Paddington.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Parliament Acts (Amendment) Bill [H.L.]

Read a third time, and passed, and sent to the Commons.

Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill

3.14 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.

Smoking is the greatest single cause of preventable illness and premature death in the United Kingdom. For that reason the Government are introducing a Bill to ban tobacco advertising. Smoking kills 120,000 people in this country every year. A 35 year-old man who has never smoked can expect to live, on average, seven years longer than a contemporary who smokes cigarettes. Smoking costs the National Health Service an estimated 1.5 billion each year in England alone. As the Royal College of Physicians said in its report last year, Nicotine Addiction in Britain,


    "Smoking is now recognised as the single largest avoidable cause of premature death and disability in Britain and in most other economically developed countries and probably the greatest avoidable threat to public health world-wide".

Our strategy aims to reduce the prevalence of smoking in Britain. We have put in place a wide range of measures that will help to achieve that. We are developing the most comprehensive smoking cessation programme in the world with zyban and, very soon, nicotine replacement therapy on prescription, and the development of specialist cessation support. We are also investing heavily in a tobacco education campaign.

The Government have a comprehensive programme to support smokers who wish to quit. So, why do we also need to legislate on tobacco advertising? There is

28 Mar 2001 : Column 272

clear evidence which suggests a link between a ban on advertising and reduced levels of tobacco consumption. There is a link between the promotion of cigarettes and the decisions of young people to start smoking. Any ban on tobacco advertising needs to be comprehensive to be effective.

An important piece of work is the Smee report, which was produced by the Department of Health's Chief Economic Adviser in 1992 at the request of the then government. Smee reviewed 19 studies, mainly from the UK and the United States, which for the most part analysed the effect of year- to-year fluctuations in advertising expenditure within those countries. While not all those studies found any statistically significant effect, Smee was able to conclude that,


    "The preponderance of positive results does indicate that advertising has a positive effect on consumption".

Professor Smee then went on to look at countries which had introduced comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising. The most significant of those were Norway and Finland where bans had been in place for over a decade at the time of the report. Smee concluded that,


    "In each case the banning of advertising was followed by a fall in smoking on a scale which cannot reasonably be attributed to other factors".

Other recent work came to similar conclusions. The 1999 report from the World Bank entitled, Curbing the Epidemic, stated that,


    "policymakers who were interested in controlling tobacco need to know whether cigarette advertising and promotion affect consumption. The answer is that they almost certainly do, although the data is not straightforward. The key conclusion is that bans on advertising and promotion prove effective, but only if they are comprehensive, covering all media and all uses of brand names and logos".

The World Bank suggests that implementation of EU Directive 98/43/EC, upon which the Bill is based, could have reduced cigarette consumption within the European Union by nearly 7 per cent.

Other recent evidence comes from American researchers, Saffer and Chaloupka, who studied data from 22 countries. They concluded:


    "tobacco advertising increases tobacco consumption. The empirical research also shows that comprehensive advertising bans can reduce tobacco consumption, but that a limited set of advertising bans will have little or no effect. A limited set of advertising bans will not reduce the total level of advertising expenditure but will simply result in substitution to the remaining non-banned media. When more of the remaining media are eliminated, the options for substitution are also eliminated".

I turn to the effect of tobacco advertising on children. University of Manchester researchers in the mid-1990s found that,


    "Awareness of certain brands of cigarette was linked to an increased risk of onset of smoking in 11-13 year olds, especially girls. Awareness of the most advertised brands was a strong predictor of smoking, while awareness of other brands, probably known from other sources, was a less likely predictor. Children appear to take in the messages of cigarette advertising and interpret them as generic to smoking rather than brand specific".

A study of adolescents in California between 1993 and 1996 found,

28 Mar 2001 : Column 273


    "clear evidence that tobacco industry advertising and promotional activities can influence non susceptible never smokers to start the process of becoming addicted to cigarettes".

That is clear evidence of a link between tobacco consumption and advertising. Public health will benefit from a comprehensive ban as proposed in the Bill.

Quantification of the effects of such a ban is not an exact science, but I believe that we are about right in estimating that the provisions of the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill, if enacted, could lead to a 2.5 per cent reduction in smoking prevalence and in the longer term a similar fall in tobacco-related deaths, a saving of some 3,000 lives a year.

This is a comprehensive Bill. It will ban, with limited exceptions, tobacco advertising in the press, on billboards and by electronic means such as faxes and through the Internet. It will ban mailshots advertising tobacco products, except where the customer has expressly requested information. It will ban free distributions of tobacco products and coupon schemes and it will bring to an end sponsorship agreements which promote tobacco products. It will give the Government power to regulate the advertising of tobacco products in places where they are sold and to control brandsharing which is the use of non-tobacco products with a similar name or other features to those of tobacco products.

With the support of the devolved administrations and agreement from the Scottish Parliament, this Bill covers the whole of the United Kingdom, although it provides that certain regulation-making powers shall be exercised by Scottish Ministers for Scotland.

I should mention that the regulation-making powers in the Bill have been considered by your Lordships' Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation and the committee has not felt it necessary to draw the attention of the House to any of the Bill's provisions.

Clause 1 of the Bill defines a tobacco advertisement as an advertisement whose purpose or effect is to promote a tobacco product. It also defines a tobacco product as a product consisting partly or wholly of tobacco and intended to be smoked, sniffed, sucked or chewed. We do not intend to stop general comment on smoking, but only promotion of tobacco products. If a journalist writes about tobacco products in news stories and comment pieces, he will not be committing an offence under the Bill. A news story is not an advertisement, neither is it an opinion piece.

Furthermore, the Bill will prohibit advertising which promotes tobacco products not the advertising of businesses. It is clear from the wording that specialist tobacconists and others will be allowed to provide information and listings in publications such as Yellow Pages, but not to use this to promote tobacco products.

Clause 2 of the Bill makes it an offence to publish, print, devise or distribute a tobacco advertisement in the UK or to cause such an advertisement to be published, printed, devised or distributed. I should

28 Mar 2001 : Column 274

stress that an offence under the Bill can be committed only where the activity takes place in the course of a business. The Bill will not stop the public at large from commenting on tobacco products or recommending them to their friends and colleagues.

Clause 3 makes it clear that where a tobacco advertisement appears in a newspaper or periodical, anyone in the chain of publication or distribution is potentially guilty of an offence, from the proprietor or editor of the newspaper through to the newsagent who sells it to the public.

Clause 4 sets out the exceptions to the advertising ban. Clause 4(1)(a) makes clear that communications between people in the tobacco trade which do not reach the wider public are not caught. Clause 4(1)(b) excludes from the Bill any material sent in response to a request for information. However, that does not permit tobacco advertisements to be sent to all customers on a database; each customer must individually request that information on each and every occasion.

Clause 4(1)(c) exempts from the general ban publications whose principal market is not the United Kingdom, while Clause 4(1)(d) provides an exclusion for the in-flight magazines on non-United Kingdom airlines.

Clause 4(2) gives Ministers powers to make regulations regarding tobacco advertisements in shops and other places where tobacco products are offered for sale.

Clause 5 provides various defences. The principle is that people should be liable only where they either know or should have known that they are involved in the publication or distribution of a tobacco advertisement. So it would not be necessary for a newsagent to check through all his publications to see whether they contain a tobacco advertisement.

Clause 5(5) and (6) provide for the position of Internet service providers and other intermediaries in electronic transactions. Such intermediaries are handling a vast amount of information. The Bill provides that such parties will not be liable when they are unaware that they are handling a tobacco advertisement. This is a stronger defence than for intermediaries in the paper chain and is necessitated by the nature of electronic media. We believe that this provides the right measure of protection for the e-commerce sector and that it is compliant with the e-commerce directive.

Clause 6 makes arrangements for specialist tobacconists' shops. There are some 350 such shops in the country, many of them long-established, small family businesses. This clause will allow such shops to advertise cigars and pipe tobacco within their shops and on their shop fronts. This exemption will not apply to cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco and all shops will have to comply with regulations made under Clause 4(2) in respect of these products.

Clause 7 gives the Secretary of State powers to amend any provisions if it becomes necessary to do so in consequence of any developments in technology concerning publication or distribution by electronic

28 Mar 2001 : Column 275

means. We do not propose to treat advertising by electronic means either less or more favourably than other forms of advertising. However, the pace of technological change in this area makes it very difficult to predict what new means of publishing or distributing may emerge and we believe it is right to cater for potential developments in this way.

The Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee has not objected to the clause either. I would stress that we have no immediate plans to make any order under this clause. If and when we feel it may be necessary to do so, the exercise of this power will be subject to parliamentary oversight by the affirmative resolution procedure.

Clause 8 gives Ministers the power to make regulations concerning the way tobacco products are displayed in places where they are offered for sale. We do not currently intend to exercise this power and the Government do not intend to change the broad status quo on the display of tobacco products for sale. We have no intention of unnecessarily increasing the burdens on small businesses, nor do we expect to change the way in which tobacco products are commonly displayed on gantries in corner shops, supermarkets and other places of sale. However, it is necessary to have a power to prevent future loopholes and abuses which may emerge.

Clause 9 will prevent the free distribution of products and coupons which promote tobacco products. These are potent marketing tools for the tobacco industry. We do not believe it is right to allow the industry to continue to give away a very wide range of non-tobacco products, such as lighters, clothes and sunglasses which clearly promote the continued consumption of tobacco products.

Similarly, we do not believe that it is right that companies should go on running coupon schemes which persuade smokers to continue smoking so they can accumulate enough coupons to claim gifts. If we allow those schemes to continue and new ones to be set up, we will be opening up a large loophole in the advertising ban.

Clause 10 prohibits anything done pursuant to a sponsorship agreement if the purpose or effect of what is done is to promote a tobacco product. I reiterate that tobacco sponsorship will end by October 2006 at the latest and that continuation of existing qualifying contracts will be subject to conditions laid out in regulations. It remains our intention to implement the policy and the timetable on sponsorship that we agreed with our European partners in 1998. Subject to consultation, that means that UK sports and events will have until July 2003 to find alternative sponsorship and that global sporting events will have until October 2006 to do the same, provided, first, that they do not sign new contracts with tobacco companies and, secondly, that they reduce the current sponsorship that they receive between 2003 and 2006.

Clause 11 allows us to deal with so-called brand-sharing as part of our comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising. We know that the tobacco industry has in the past sought to evade restrictions on direct

28 Mar 2001 : Column 276

advertising by developing a strategy to use their brands on other products. This clause enables the Secretary of State to make regulations concerning the use by non-tobacco products of names, emblems and other features which are the same or similar to those used by tobacco products, or vice versa. Such regulations can apply only where their use is intended to promote a tobacco product, or has the effect of so doing.

Clause 12 makes clear that this Bill does not extend to those areas of broadcasting where existing legislation and codes of practice provide adequate safeguards to prevent tobacco advertising and promotion. This means that the BBC and most commercial television and radio services are outside the scope of the Bill. The Bill applies to those few broadcasting services which are not already regulated.

Clauses 13 to 15 deal with enforcement powers. Trading standards officers will be responsible in the main for enforcing this Bill, although Ministers will have the power to take over or institute proceedings when necessary. In general, we do not expect the enforcement burden to be very great; for example, we expect advertising on posters, billboards and in the press to be removed voluntarily.

Clause 16 deals with penalties. Alleged offences under the provisions of the Bill can be tried either summarily or on indictment. On summary conviction the maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale (currently 5,000) or six months' imprisonment, or both. A person who is convicted on indictment will be liable to an unlimited fine or a maximum of two years' imprisonment, or both. The option of conviction on indictment opens up the possibility of unlimited fines, which we believe will deter corporate villains. At the other end of the scale, I envisage that first offences by, say, a retailer would normally attract relatively low fines--enough to remind everyone that the law exists and will be enforced.

A comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising is part of the jigsaw that we are putting together to help to reduce the level of smoking in this country and make a dent in the toll of death and ill health caused by tobacco use. Each year 120,000 of our fellow citizens die from smoking-related diseases. That causes heartache and misery for many, many more. The Government are determined to tackle this epidemic. I commend the Bill to the House.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time.--(Lord Hunt of Kings Heath.)

3.32 p.m.

Lord Tebbit: My Lords, I should at once inform the House that on the odd occasion I have accepted some hospitality from the tobacco industry by way of a day's clay-pigeon shooting. It did not improve my shooting and has made no difference whatever to my views on smoking. I do not like smoking. From my experiments--by the way, I have inhaled--it spoils the taste of food, even the next day, and makes curtains smell. My wife does not like it, nor do my dogs. The memory of my days as an airline pilot when

28 Mar 2001 : Column 277

occasionally my room was the rendezvous for after-flight drinks remains with me still. I recall the sheer horror of finding next morning under the bed a discarded fag-end in a half-empty glass of beer. It is not a habit which appeals to me.

I cannot convince myself that smoking is good for an individual's physical health, but I acknowledge that sometimes a cigarette may be an antidote to feelings of anxiety or rage. We have only to look back to the role played by cigarettes in the camaraderie of the trenches in the First World War and the songs which still bring those events to mind.

As to this Bill, I am concerned by the scope of Clause 7 in particular. I do not like giving the Secretary of State the right when he thinks fit, in the light of developments which none of us can foresee at the moment, simply to change the legislation by order. I believe that that is a very unhealthy development. I hope that if the Bill survives Committee stage it will emerge with that power, if not removed, at least very sharply curtailed.

My principal objection to the Bill is based on humbug. I am taxed, as we all are, to provide subsidy to the growing of tobacco. Yet here we have a Bill which is designed to prohibit the advertising of a product which we are taxed to grow. As far as I know, at Amsterdam, Nice, Stockholm, or anywhere else, the Prime Minister has not raised this as a serious issue within the European Union. If we are serious about reducing the consumption of tobacco, surely we should also reduce or eliminate the subsidy for its growth. I do not accept that this Government, or their predecessors, have done anything adequate on that front.

There is humbug galore beyond that. Based on the scale of spending, the Government must regard AIDS as an even greater threat to health than smoking. Smoking has never been held responsible for causing a net decrease in the population of any country, but we are told that AIDS may well decimate the populations of a number of sub-Saharan states. What is the Government's policy? The policy is not to discourage the practice of buggery, which is the principal means by which AIDS is spread, but to encourage it. The policy is not to prohibit the advertisement of anal intercourse but to remove the restraints upon education authorities which are so misguided as to publicise the practice--of course in a non-judgmental manner--in our schools.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page