Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Lord Monson: My Lords, does the noble Viscount think that the consumption of washing powder increases because it is advertised? Surely the same amount will be used. Advertising simply causes people to switch from one brand to another; nothing else.

Viscount Simon: My Lords, I tend to disagree with the noble Lord. We have our own points of view.

28 Mar 2001 : Column 321

The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, was clearly concerned about advertisements cleverly concealing their real purpose. I wonder whether he has considered the fact that, as a health warning has to be given, any editor or owner of a publication can be in no doubt that tobacco products are involved.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, if an advertisement was so obviously a tobacco advertisement, one would not need to reverse the burden of proof to prove that someone knew that it was a tobacco advertisement. It is plain and obvious. It is the reversal of the burden of proof, not putting an onus on publishers, that concerns me.

Viscount Simon: My Lords, I certainly see what the noble Lord is getting at. But the fact remains that a health disclaimer has to be put on any tobacco advertising. If any editor or owner of a publication sees that, he knows that the product is tobacco.

The fact is that the advertising of cigarettes, like advertising for any other product, works. In every country where tobacco advertising has been banned, it has led to a sharp fall in the number of people smoking. Much as we like to pretend the opposite, we are all vulnerable to the advertiser's art. The big difference, though, between tobacco advertising and the advertising of any other product is that only tobacco products will kill you if they are used exactly according to the maker's instructions.

I suppose that we should not be too surprised that the tobacco companies would be a little reluctant to give us the real reasons why they want to keep on advertising. After all, these companies do not have a flawless record when it comes to being honest with their customers. They maintained for years--even under oath in the United States--that smoking did not cause cancer, when their own internal documents revealed that they knew many years earlier just how harmful tobacco was. They continued to maintain that smoking is a habit that is no more addictive than playing the National Lottery. I am led to understand by ASH that the Department of Trade and Industry is currently investigating one of the largest of their number--British American Tobacco--for alleged involvement in aiding and abetting smuggling. As I said, these companies do not have a flawless record. That is why we must take with a pinch of salt their reasons for opposing the Bill.

These companies would rather see a continuation of voluntary self-regulation. They argue that that has worked well. Indeed it has--for the tobacco companies. A Health Select Committee report in another place summed up their attitude to this regulation best by saying:


    "Regulations have been seen by tobacco companies as hurdles to be overcome or side-stepped; legislation banning advertising as a challenge, a policy to be systematically undermined by whatever means possible".

That is a damning assessment of their attitude and one which underlines the need for legislation to prevent it carrying on. We should give the Bill every support, as an important step in improving public health.

28 Mar 2001 : Column 322

6.24 p.m.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, I have two interests to declare. The first is that, like some other noble Lords, I am a lifelong non-smoker. I tried a couple of cigarettes when I was taking my university finals more than 30 years ago. Unlike my noble friend Lord Tebbit, I did not inhale, but I still thought that they were awful and I have not tried again since.

My second interest is that over the past two years I have attended two cricket matches as a guest of Gallaher in my capacity as Opposition spokesman in your Lordships' House on sport. That should be put within the proper context. Over the past 30 years I have attended countless golf tournaments and football and cricket matches--I am the golf nut and my husband is mad on cricket and football, so we see the lot--both as a paying customer and as a guest of friends who have nothing to do with the tobacco industry.

I put down my name to speak because of my concern about what will happen to some sports over the next three or four years as they face the cliff-edge in the loss of their sponsorship by tobacco companies. Earlier in the debate the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, referred to sports sponsorship within the context of what it might do in attracting new business. I am addressing the issue from the point of view of the impact that the Bill will have on sports governing bodies themselves.

I do not object to the Bill on the basis that it seeks to reduce smoking--I hope that I have made that clear--but it is a flawed Bill because of its unfair treatment of different sports, all of which currently rely heavily on tobacco sponsorship. Clause 19 allows the Secretary of State to make regulations to specify when the ban on sponsorship in Clause 10 should take effect. We know that the latest date is 1st October 2006. We also know that the Government will give preferential treatment to Formula 1 and snooker. I have nothing against either sport. Indeed, how could I, of all people, object to Formula 1 being treated fairly, living as I do in Woking, the home for a long time of McClaren! But I do object to the Government treating other sports unfairly.

It is perverse of the Government to say that two sports are global and therefore, hey presto, they can have until 2006 to sort out their sponsorship deals, whereas other sports like darts have to face that cliff-edge drop in sponsorship by July 2003, even though they have players from across the globe and have global appeal.

The Government set up a task force, which was intended to help sports adjust their sponsorship deals in advance of the loss of the tobacco industry money. I am grateful to the Central Council of Physical Recreation for its briefing on this matter. It attended the meeting in November 1997, which explored the issues surrounding the banning of tobacco sponsorship. It then wrote, via the Sports Sponsorship Advisory Service, on four occasions to 1,000 British companies highlighting the potential for sponsorship opportunities. To date, no sponsors have been found.

28 Mar 2001 : Column 323

To suggest that sports can find replacement sponsors easily is a misunderstanding of the commercial market place. The current shortfall for the sports is estimated to be 10 million with an additional 10 million for marketing the sporting events. The general secretary/director of the British Darts Organisation, Mr Olly Croft, wrote to my honourable friend in another place, Mr John Greenway, and made this point about the task force:


    "The 'Task Force' was simply a gesture to give the impression we were being given assistance. In truth, there probably isn't a business out there which can replace the funding we receive from Imperial Tobacco ... Our main concern is that we only have until 2003 to save our sport. What would help enormously is an extension to 2006 like Formula One and snooker. We can fulfil the Government criteria of being a global sport ... The number of countries which are members of the World Darts Federation or associate international members of the British Darts Organisation shows that that claim can be justified".

I have spoken to Mr Croft this week and he confirms that his views remain the same today. Will the Government undertake to reconsider this matter even at this late stage?

There is also the danger that the Bill could be just the first step in a series of banning orders on sponsorship of sports and arts in general. Will we see the state making a decision that other businesses should not accept sponsorship from alcohol producers? We heard a timely reminder of that risk from the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, with his intriguing First Reading of a Bill to prohibit the advertising of alcohol.

It is interesting to note that Carling has just given up its sponsorship of the Premier League, but the only realistic bidder able to take over as a sponsor is Budweiser, another brewer. One of the world's premier steeplechases is sponsored by Martell. The House should be alert to the damage that would be done if such sponsorship were ended.

I have pointed out that the Bill is flawed because of its unfair treatment of different sports, but it is also important to note that the Bill is flawed because of its inadequate definition of what constitutes a "tobacco advertisement". Have the Government considered the impact of Clause 2 on the incentives industry? By that I refer to those businesses which print the logos and advertisements on prizes and awards given away not to the public, but offered to employees during the course of a corporate sports event. The sector represents a large and serious business in this country.

What will happen in the future at a tobacco company sports day such as, for example, a golf day? It is normal practice for the corporate sponsor--the employer--to give those taking part--be they direct employees or even their guests--a clutch of golf balls to start off the day. I should observe to noble Lords if their game is anything like mine, after four years in this House and thus hardly ever playing, by the end of the day those golf balls are firmly lost in the rough. At the end of play, prizes are presented to those who last the distance. It is commonplace for all such items--golf balls, golf umbrellas, golf shirts and so forth--to be overprinted with a logo.

28 Mar 2001 : Column 324

This practice is not "brand-stretching" in the manner referred to by other noble Lords in the debate. This is overprinting of equipment which has been made by other manufacturers who have no business relationship whatever with the tobacco company. But no doubt the items are used, in a sense, for advertising. Are they to be made illegal by this Bill? I believe that they will be. Is that right? No, I do not think that it is.

What would be the situation if no outside guests attended the event, but rather that it was run only for employees? Would that make a difference? This is a legal question which has not yet been answered by the Government. I merely cite an odd example to reflect a Bill that has many oddities in it.

I am concerned also about the impact of the Bill on tobacco companies which sponsor local arts organisations. When I go to my local theatre in Woking, the Victoria, I walk past a prominently displayed list of corporate sponsors. I do not object to that in any way. But why should tobacco companies have to be excluded from such a list, simply because there is a chance that people might associate the name with a brand of cigarettes? Is that correct? Where in the Bill is there protection against that kind of practice?

I should like to refer to a final anomaly, which was mentioned briefly in another place but did not receive a sufficiently detailed response from the Minister. This anomaly arises in the case of museums which display tobacco advertising as part of their exhibits. Why should they be caught out by this Bill? The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health in another place said that the Government did not want to catch,


    "historic tobacco advertisements or items of historic branding value".--[Official Report, Commons, 13/2/01; col. 219.]

or to,


    "prevent museums from displaying historic posters".--[col. 220.]

But of course that is exactly what the Bill will do because some posters of historic value would depict brands that are still being sold today. History can begin in the very recent past.

Can the Minister further explain where in the Bill will protection be offered to museums such as the Broseley Pipe Works and the Clay Tobacco Pipe Museum, which has its own website and is featured on the Kidsnet website? Furthermore, will protection be offered to lifestyle museums which depict life as it is and was? Do we have to censor history now?

This is a flawed Bill. Noble Lords have pointed out serious flaws with regard to human rights; I have pointed out flaws with regard to the sponsorship of sports and protection for the arts. I hope fervently that tobacco consumption can be reduced, but I am far from confident that this Bill will achieve that.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page