HC Deb 13 February 1967 vol 741 cc82-4
11. Dr. John Dunwoody

asked the Minister of Health if he will make a statement on his policy with regard to the control of cigarette advertising and coupon schemes.

44 and 45. Mr. Francis Noel-Baker

asked the Minister of Health (1) what further steps he will now take to control cigarette advertising and coupons;

(2) if he will introduce legislation to eliminate cigarette advertising in the Press in view of the health hazards of cigarette smoking.

70. Mr. Cronin

asked the Minister of Health what is his policy on the control of cigarette advertising and other measures to promote the consumption of cigarettes.

Mr. K. Robinson

I would refer my hon. Friends to my reply on 6th February to my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, West (Mr. Judd).—[Vol. 740, c. 1102.]

Dr. Dunwoody

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that there is considerable anxiety about the mushroom growth particularly of coupon schemes in the last three years? Is it not a shocking commentary on our society that tobacco companies should spend on these schemes more than twice what the community spends on medical research, through the Medical Research Council?

Mr. Robinson

I know that there is a great deal of anxiety about coupon schemes. This is one of the matters to which the Government are giving current attention.

Mr. Francis Noel-Baker

Can my right hon. Friend tell us whether he has at least had some informal consultations with Press proprietors about the exclusion of cigarette advertising from the Press? Many of them are very sensitive to this point, and talks would be very useful.

Mr. Robinson

I would not like to go further than I have at the moment. I do not think that the Press proprietors are all of one mind in this matter.

Mr. Cronin

I appreciate that my right hon. Friend has done the best he can in negotiating with the cigarette com- panies concerned, but could not he take more effective and vigorous action in influencing public opinion, especially among the younger members of the population?

Mr. Robinson

That is exactly what our campaign to call the public's attention to the dangers of cigarette smoking is designed to do—and also to change the social climate in respect of the acceptability of cigarette smoking generally.

Mr. Dean

Will the Minister bear in mind that the inclusion of coupons in cigarettes shows that they are popular with the public? Will he further bear in mind that but for the efforts of those who are unrepentant smokers he would be very short of money for the National Health Service?

Mr. Robinson

I very much doubt whether, on reflection, the hon. Member would confirm his support for hypothecated taxation.

Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan

I am a nonsmoker, and I do not want to go into the question whether the right hon. Gentleman is also a non-smoker, but does not he agree that the statistics that he has recently published show that his Department's propaganda—despite the wide advertising of cigarettes—has been successful in reducing the amount of smoking?

Mr. Robinson

Certainly the last published figures suggest that there has been a welcome increase in the number of non-smokers, particularly in the younger age groups.

Dr. Winstanley

In addition to the very welcome steps that the Minister is taking to dissuade people from smoking at all, will he consider publishing propaganda or advertisements to encourage people to take up pipe smoking or cigar smoking rather than cigarette smoking, in order to get at those who are not amenable to his first lot of propaganda?

Mr. Robinson

I shall certainly give consideration to that suggestion.