HC Deb 23 October 1967 vol 751 cc1328-9
18. Dr. John Dunwoody

asked the Minister of Health what further action he intends to take to reduce cigarette smoking in the community.

Mr. K. Robinson

Mr. Speaker, I apologise for the length of the reply.

As I told the House before the Recess, I met representatives of the tobacco industry in July and asked them to make a further effort to reach agreement between themselves on the voluntary limitation of advertising and cigarette sales promotion. I made it clear to the manufacturers that such an agreement must, in my view, include the ending of coupon schemes.

I met the manufacturers again last month, when they told me that they had failed to reach agreement. Two of the firms would agree to the ending of coupon schemes and to the limitation of mass media advertising expenditure on a basis agreed between them. The third firm would not agree to the ending of coupon schemes, though it would have been prepared to control its development and to limit advertising.

After more than a year of negotiations, it is now clear that no further progress is possible by voluntary agreement. As hon. Members know, cigarette smoking is a serious danger to health and a major cause of preventable deaths. In view of this, the Government have decided to introduce legislation in due course to take powers to ban coupon gift schemes in relation to cigarettes, to control or ban other promotional schemes, to forbid or limit certain forms of cigarette advertising, and to limit expenditure on advertising of cigarettes.

Mr. Speaker

I would hope that a long Answer like this might be taken at the end of Question Time.

Dr. Dunwoody

Can I assure my right hon. Friend that his announcement this afternoon will be widely welcomed by everyone in this country—by the medical profession more than by any other group, but also by everyone who wants to see a reduction in the terrible toll of cigarette-induced diseases in this country?

Mr. Robinson

I am grateful to my hon. Friend.

Dr. Winstanley

Will the right hon. Gentleman give further consideration to discussing with the Chancellor of the Exchequer methods of applying a differential duty as between cigarettes and pipes and cigars, to encourage people at least to give up cigarette smoking and to take up in preference cigar and pipe smoking?

Mr. Robinson

This is a budgetary matter, but I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend will read the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question.