HC Deb 07 December 1993 vol 234 cc134-5
8. Ms Quin

To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she next plans to meet her EC counterparts to discuss preventive health.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

The next meeting of the EC Health Council takes place on 13 December. I have this week written to my EC counterparts to inform them of the health prevention measures which my right hon. and learned Friend's excellent Budget contains.

Ms Quin

Does the Secretary of State agree with the findings in her own Department's report that a ban on tobacco advertising could reduce cigarette smoking by up to 9 per cent. and also save 10,000 lives a year in Britain? In view of this, will she be supporting a ban on tobacco advertising at the EC Council meeting on 13 December?

Mrs. Bottomley

What I am saying clearly to my fellow Ministers, and what my hon. Friend the Minister for Health will be saying at the EC Health Council, is that Britain has had a more substantial fall in the amount of smoking than any other country in the EC except the Netherlands. It is not my view that a statutory ban on tobacco advertising is an appropriate way of achieving change. We know that for every 10 per cent. increase in price there is a 3 to 6 per cent. fall in consumption. When the Labour party was in power, the price of cigarettes went up by about 1 per cent. It has gone up by about 67 per cent. since we have been in power. We believe in achieving results, not pursuing gimmicks.

Mrs. Roe

Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating the Chancellor of the Exchequer both on increasing the price of a packet of cigarettes by a further 11p in the Budget last week and on committing the Government to a real-terms increase in tobacco taxation in each successive Budget? Will my right hon. Friend be encouraging her EC counterparts to press their Finance Ministers to take similar action?

Mrs. Bottomley

I will most certainly be doing precisely that. I am grateful to my hon. Friend. It seems ironic that those who seem most keen to ban the advertising of cigarettes seem to be those who have their own nationalised industries. I would only ask my hon. Friends to compare the price of cigarettes here with that in Spain, for example, where they sell for 51p a packet. We have a tight package of measures, not only increasing the penalties on those selling cigarettes to under-16s, but having the largest warnings on cigarette packets of any country in the EC. We are meeting our targets for adults and pregnant women; it is the children of smoking parents who cause most concern and we will renew our activities to ensure that they also help us to meet the targets that we set out in "The Health of the Nation".