HC Deb 20 June 1966 vol 730 cc27-8
49. Mr. Coe

asked the Minister of Health if he will now make a statement on Her Majesty's Government's policy towards cigarette advertising in media other than television.

Mr. K. Robinson

An agreement has been reached between the principal United Kingdom manufacturers and the Government for the limitation of expenditure on the advertising of cigarettes through Press and posters during the six months from 1st June, and for advertising in cinemas and on radio to cease on the expiry of existing contracts. The manufacturers have also agreed to undertake a review, jointly with the Government, of future levels of advertising in these media and of expenditure on coupon schemes with the aim of making comprehensive arrangements for limitation to come into operation on the expiry of the current six months period. An understanding has also been reached to restrict the distribution of free samples.

Mr. Coe

Whilst thanking my right hon. Friend for that Answer, may I ask whether he can estimate how far the agreed levels which he has announced today will compare with the previous level of cigarette advertising?

Mr. Robinson

Without wishing to disclose the actual figures, I can assure my hon. Friend that it is at a rate considerably below the total advertising expenditure before the ban on advertisements on television.

Mr. Hogg

As this matter is of very wide general interest, and all hon. Members would like to know them, is there no means of giving in outline a greater degree of information about the nature of the arrangements than the right hon. Gentleman was able to do in his Answer? Will they not be published?

Mr. Robinson

If the right hon. Gentleman would like further information, perhaps he would put down a Question on the Order Paper. He will appreciate that there are commercial considerations involved in this matter as between firm and firm.

Dr. John Dunwoody

While welcoming the Minister's announcement, may I ask him to consider in the future completely banning advertisements for cigarettes, because the quite frightening death rate from cancer of the lung in this country is the largest public health problem that we are facing today?

Mr. Robinson

I certainly agree with my hon. Friend that it is a very serious problem, but here we have been able to achieve a voluntary agreement by the manufacturers, and I would prefer to try to build on that for the present.

Captain W. Elliot

Will the right hon. Gentleman in due course give the House the effect which the ban has had on sales of cigarettes?

Mr. Robinson

I do not know to which ban the hon. Gentleman is referring.

Miss Quennell

Would the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that, while carcinogenic elements in cigarette smoke may be a largely contributory factor to the increase in lung cancer, so long as the country continues to pollute its atmosphere as freely as it does, we cannot expect a diminution in the number of deaths?

Mr. Robinson

I think that that is another question. Whether or not the hon. Lady is right, it ought not to affect our efforts to reduce the consumption of cigarettes.