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Baroness Finlay of Llandaff: My Lords, like other noble Lords, I look forward to hearing the humour of the noble Lord, Lord Stratford, in making his points. I am only sorry that he is not in his place.
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I congratulate the promoters of the Bill. I am president of ASH in Wales and a practising clinician there. I have not reintroduced my Smoking in Public Places (Wales) Bill as I have had assurances from the Secretary of State for Wales and Dr Brian Gibbons, the Minister for Health and Social Services in Wales, that the Health Improvement and Protection Bill, already referred to so often, will give Wales the powers and freedoms to implement a ban on smoking in public places as it sees fit.

Wales has already held a very comprehensive consultation process chaired by Val Lloyd AM, and the committee has reported to the Assembly. It was a very thorough consultation process and I hope that England can learn from it. The Committee on Smoking in Public Places in Wales drew on much evidence and concluded that,

A recent survey of the population of Wales shows what is now enormous support for an overall ban.

Back in 1998, a report commissioned by the four UK health departments concluded that environmental tobacco smoke exposure is hazardous. The committee's update in 2004 reviewed all new evidence and concluded that knowledge of the hazardous nature of second-hand smoke has consolidated. It constitutes a serious public health risk. Many major studies have shown the adverse effects of the exposure of non-smokers to workplace environmental tobacco smoke. Time does not allow me to go through them, and the noble Baroness, Lady Gould of Potternewton, has already referred to the effect on pregnant women.

There is also an increase in the risk of developing lung cancer by 20 to 30 per cent, and an increased risk of coronary heart disease by 25 to 35 per cent. There is a significant reduction in the lung function of non-smokers exposed at work, and a higher prevalence of respiratory irritational symptoms. Concentrations of salivary cotinine found in exposed workers are associated with substantial involuntary risks for cancer and heart disease.

The problem of environmental tobacco smoke is so widespread that the studies are of whole populations. By their very nature, such epidemiological studies need large populations. Taken together, their evidence is very strong. No one in the mainstream medical and scientific community doubts that there is a risk from environmental tobacco smoke.

Children, pregnant women, people with existing cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease or asthma and other respiratory disorders are particularly vulnerable. Relatively small exposures of non-smokers to toxins in tobacco smoke seem to cause unexpectedly large increases in the risk of acute cardiovascular disease. The
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mechanism is probably through platelet aggregation and vasospasm, as is seen with nano-particle atmospheric pollution.

Professor David Cohen modelled the economic and health impact of a ban on smoking in public places for Wales, which has a population of near 3 million. If that is extrapolated for London, with a population of 7 million, and Liverpool with almost half a million, the annual number of lives saved might be 1,012, with a further 150 to 450 resulting from a reduction in active smoking. The Irish model, of course, gives interesting data which completely support the proposals of both Bills.

Why are these Bills quite so important? They are particularly important because the major benefit of stopping exposure to tobacco smoke at work is an overall reduction in smoking. I declare that I would like to see that as a secondary result.

The Department of Health previously proposed that smoking would be allowed in bars that do not serve food. Like the noble Baronesses, Lady Williams of Crosby and Lady Gould of Potternewton, I have major concerns. Such bars will become havens for tobacco promotion. They will be decked out to attract the young—not the elderly, such as the likes of us. Youngsters, especially those who carry the genetic variant on a single gene, called CYP2A6, are particularly sensitive to the addictive potential of tobacco. These pubs will have loud music and alcohol and tobacco aplenty. It will be a great way to hook in the young—especially young girls, who already seem to smoke more than boys—and get them addicted to tobacco. That will create a long-term market.

Wales will have an effective ban. The rest of the UK must also be able to have bans which are effective. That is why I support the Bills for these two important cities in England.

8.44 pm

Lord Haskel: My Lords, I, too, congratulate the city of Liverpool and the London local authorities on their initiative. It is excellent that Liverpool plans to be smoke-free by 2008, when it will be the European City of Culture. What a splendid initiative. It gives a totally new dimension to the meaning of culture.

I congratulate my noble friend Lord Faulkner on introducing the Bill, and I also congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth.

I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Williams: what could be more appropriate in preparing for the Olympic Games than this move to prohibit smoking in places of work? I hope that my noble friend the Minister will recognise the Bills as examples of civic pride and urban ambition to make these cities better places. Who would want to stand in the way of that?

I would have thought that the Government would have welcomed the initiatives from London and Liverpool. Letting them make their own decisions should be seen as smart localism, not as causing confusion up and down the country, as suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Naseby.
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Other noble Lords have spoken of priorities. Should the priority be public health or individual freedom or avoiding economic damage? Let me briefly comment on each of the priorities.

Starting with individual freedom, libertarians rightly make much of the freedom of individuals to choose for themselves. Indeed, the Tobacco Manufacturers' Association has helped the libertarians. It has published polling data which show that the majority of people do not want a complete ban on smoking in public places. Of course, we have to pay due regard to the will of people, but there are other considerations, many of which we have heard this evening. Governments and councils cannot live by polling alone. Public health and the economy are other considerations.

On public health, the noble Lord, Lord Chan, and the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, have explained how passive smoking is damaging to health. That is why I agree with my noble friend Lady Gould. The idea of smoking being permitted where food is not served because smoke is unpleasant to diners is illogical. If in other places of work one relaxes safety procedures according to the perceived pleasantness or unpleasantness and not according to the actual danger to health, there would be uproar and endless argument. Quite rightly, no workplace would put up with that.

I turn to the question of economic damage. Fortunately the Government do not have to rely on the inevitably conflicting opinions of economists. They have the benefit of actual experience elsewhere. Other cities and countries have banned smoking in public places and, in some of those countries, sufficient time has elapsed for us to judge the economic effect. Other noble Lords have given details of what has happened in America, Ireland and elsewhere, and I do not intend to repeat that. However, it is interesting that, generally, in all those places the law is respected, as it is on trains and buses here. I do not believe that there need be much concern about economics.

On balance, where should the decision lie? Like other noble Lords, I think it should be in public health. We have to make public health our priority. If the Minister has any doubts about putting health first, perhaps I may pray in aid the moving article in last Sunday's Observer by her colleague in government, the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor. He writes about his friend Deborah Hutton and her book on cancer. The passage about Deborah Hutton's campaign to stop young people smoking, particularly girls, would convince anyone to support the Bill. That is why I support the Bills and hope that they will go forward to an opposed committee stage.

8.47 pm

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, the House will be relieved to hear that I can be relatively brief, as my noble friends Lord Naseby and Lord Skelmersdale have already said much of what I wished to say. On 5 July, only a fortnight ago, we found ourselves discussing the London Local Authorities Bill. I am fascinated as to why the London local authorities did not get their act together and go with one London local authorities Bill.
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That Bill suffered from the same problem as these Bills. It has been overtaken by subsequent government legislation, which is even more positive than what is happening to these Bills. At the moment, they are subject only to future government legislation. The London Local Authorities Bill was introduced to the House in 2004, it was overtaken by government legislation earlier this year and parts of it will have to be completely excised from the Bill.

These Bills are brought before us for discussion and we know we have a government White Paper. We have a Queen's Speech pledge to introduce legislation and that legislation is coming. I am looking forward to the reply of the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, and to hearing how we should handle this dilemma.

I would not go so far as to believe that it would be appropriate to oppose these Bills at this stage, but it would be perfectly reasonable to suggest that the business managers of the House will need to consider whether we should give time to these Bills when we know that government legislation is on its way. Private Bill Committees are very thorough and very time-consuming. They employ a lot of expertise and it means that the petitioners incur a great deal of cost as well. If that were made unnecessary, I am sure that there would be general rejoicing in the world outside.

There is one other point that we should realise about the Bills. They will do nothing to reduce inequality, as has been pointed out already. Of course, there will be an element of equality in the areas where they are applied, but they will not cover the country. We know that a number of boroughs will not apply the London Bill, and that figure will probably rise. Frankly, my mind quails at the prospect of an endless series of local authority Bills, seriatim, going through the House, all petitioned against, as they almost certainly would be. Using the local authority route, it would be years before there was any solution to the problem.

That is a powerful argument for at least not expediting the procedure on these Bills. I look forward to hearing what the noble Baroness has to say so that we may know rather more about what the Government have in mind.

8.51 pm

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