HC Deb 27 January 1993 vol 217 cc1041-5 3.35 pm
Mr. Hugh Bayley (York)

I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make illegal the advertisement of tobacco and products containing tobacco other than at the point of sale; to make illegal the promotion by other means of tobacco and products containing tobacco; and for related purposes. The case against tobacco is easy to state. Each year, according to the Government, 111,000 people die from smoking—26,000 from lung cancer, and the rest from other diseases caused by tobacco. Smoking is by far the biggest public health hazard in Britain. The Government say in their "Health of the Nation" White Paper that, of every 1,000 smokers, one will be murdered, six will die in road accidents and 250 will die before their natural time from smoking.

For the tobacco industry, 111,000 customers are a lot to lose each year, so the industry seeks to replace them—to recruit new smokers to take the place of those who have died—by advertising. Nearly all adults who smoke started smoking before the age of 20: I was one of them. For that reason, despite the advertising code of conduct, tobacco advertising is directed at teenagers and children. Those are the only age group in which the number of smokers in the country is not falling.

For the tobacco industry, advertising itself is big business. The industry spend, £100 million a year on advertising cigarettes. It claims that it is simply promoting brand switching—persuading smokers of one brand of cigarette to switch to another. But people cannot be persuaded to switch brands if they have not already been persuaded to start smoking.

In the White Paper, the Government have set an ambitious target: to reduce the number of cigarettes sold by 40 per cent. by the end of the decade, from the 100 billion cigarettes sold in 1990 to just under 60 billion by the year 2000. The Government should be commended for the bold goal that they have set; the question is, are they going to achieve that goal? They are already using price regulation, health warnings, voluntary codes of conduct—which are frequently circumvented by the tobacco companies—and health education, and the number of smokers is indeed falling; but it is falling more slowly now than it has fallen in the past. It is falling by 1 per cent. per year among males, and by 0.5 per cent. per year among women.

The "Health of the Nation" target is to reduce the incidence of smoking by 40 per cent. by the end of the decade. It is evident that, if that target is to be reached, more needs to be done. One major step that the Government could take, but to which they are not yet committed, is the banning of tobacco advertising.

A ban has been imposed in other countries, with positive results. The chief economist at the Department of Health, Dr. Clive Smee, recorded in a recent report that, in New Zealand, an advertising ban reduced tobacco consumption by 7.5 per cent. In Canada, consumption was reduced by 6 per cent.; in Finland, by 7 per cent.; and in Norway, by 8 per cent. Dr. Smee's figures take account of the other factors, such as price changes, that would also have affected consumption in those countries.

The Select Committee on Health considered the Smee report, and took evidence from Ministers and from many other people, including representatives of the tobacco industry and lobbying organisations on the tobacco industry's side.

Having considered all the evidence, we agree with Smee's findings. Before I became a Member of Parliament, I was a health economist. I think that his methodology is sound. The British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nursing and the Health Education Authority agree that there should be a ban on tobacco advertising. So who is on the other side of the argument? The tobacco industry itself, of course.

What are the arguments put forward by the tobacco industry? First, it points to the revenue that would be lost to the Treasury if advertising were to be banned. That suggests that the tobacco industry agrees that a ban would reduce the number of cigarettes consumed. The Government have already agreed, however, to seek a 40 per cent. cut in the number of cigarettes smoked. I presume that that policy objective has been costed, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been told and that his revenue plans therefore take account of that fact.

Secondly, the people who oppose a ban argue that there should be freedom of choice. In her evidence to the Select Committee, the Secretary of State for Health said: If cigarettes were introduced today, their production and sale would probably be banned. In other words, the Secretary of State agrees that in some cases the public interest is more important than the interest of personal freedom of choice.

I am not seeking in the Bill to ban smoking. I am not even proposing, as the Minister for Health did yesterday, that smoking in public places should be restricted. Smokers must choose for themselves whether to smoke. My Bill aims only to ban the promotion of tobacco and to prevent tobacco companies from persuading more people to buy their brands. The majority of people they persuade to smoke are young people—people under the age of 20, the only age groups among whom the incidence of smoking is not falling.

There is a freedom of choice issue, but the question that the House should address is whether the freedom in question is freedom to do good or evil. Is tobacco advertising in the public interest, or against it? Tobacco is a unique product. It is the only product which, when used in moderation and as the manufacturers intend, kills people. In Britain it kills more than 100,000 people a year. It is a unique product and, as a unique product, it requires a unique response.

Among the arguments against a ban are those put forward by the Euro-sceptics—I see one sitting opposite me—who dislike the idea of yet another European Community directive. But the Euro-sceptics have a choice. If they vote for the Bill, it will mean that a British law takes the step that needs to be taken in this area.

Public opinion clearly supports a ban. Yesterday, the Health Education Authority revealed the results of a survey of 5,000 people who had been randomly selected, of whom 75 per cent. said that they supported a total ban on tobacco advertising. Most surprisingly, 64 per cent.—almost two thirds—of smokers supported a total ban on tobacco advertising.

The Bill has support in all parts of the House, from smokers and non-smokers in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. I commend it to the House.

3.44 pm
Mr. Tim Rathbone (Lewes)


Madam Speaker

I see that the hon. Member for Lewes (Mr. Rathbone) is on his feet. I take it that the hon. Gentleman opposes the Bill?

Mr. Rathbone

That is right, Madam Speaker.

I should like to make one thing clear before speaking against the Bill. I have no connection with the tobacco industry or with the advertising industry, although I have spent much of my business life in advertising and perhaps understand it a little more than the hon. Member for York (Mr. Bayley) who introduced the Bill. I agree, however, with 75 per cent. of what he said. The Government must do more to reduce the incidence of smoking, particularly smoking among the young. They must concentrate more than they have so far on controlling the illegal sale of cigarettes to the under-18s. They must also do much more in terms of health education to persuade not only children but their parents of the harm which, as the hon. Gentleman said, naturally comes from smoking cigarettes.

However, it is self-deception and a deception of the people of this country to suggest that banning advertising will achieve the ends that the hon. Gentleman suggests. It is a tempting and attractive short cut, but it is not working. The hon. Gentleman cited instances from New Zealand, Norway and Canada. He said that the gentleman in the health service who gave opinions on them drew into his assessment the fact that cigarettes had increased in cost in those countries, while at the same time advertising had been banned. A rational and careful analysis of the research there provides a direct link between the price of cigarettes and the drop in consumption. Therefore, the Bill, if correctly drafted, would call on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to tax tobacco even more, because it would have an effect on the consumption of tobacco, especially among the young.

Another point which is seldom made but which is crucial is that, in a market such as that in the United Kingdom, where the advertising of cigarettes is the best developed and done with great creativity, we have the greatest incidence of the smoking of low tar cigarettes. If you are going to smoke—I am sure, Madam Speaker, that you are not—you would be wiser to choose low tar rather than high tar cigarettes, because they reduce the chance of getting cancer from a nauseous habit. It is only because of advertising and promotion that low tar cigarettes have penetrated the market as they have.

Therefore, banning advertising would do a disservice to the health of the nation and would work against the aims of the Bill and of the Government. For that reason, I humbly beg to oppose the Bill.

Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 19 ( Motions for leave to bring in Bills and nomination of Select Committees at commencement of public business):—

The House divided: Ayes 206, Noes 61.

Division No. 126] [3.47 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Banks, Matthew (Southport)
Adams, Mrs Irene Banks, Tony (Newham NW)
Ainger, Nick Barnes, Harry
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Barron, Kevin
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale) Battle, John
Armstrong, Hilary Bayley, Hugh
Ashton, Joe Beith, Rt Hon A. J.
Austin-Walker, John Bell, Stuart
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Hoon, Geoffrey
Bennett, Andrew F. Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Berry, Dr. Roger Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Betts, Clive Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Blunkett, David Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Boyce, Jimmy Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Bradley, Keith Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Brandreth, Gyles Hutton, John
Bray, Dr Jeremy Illsley, Eric
Browning, Mrs. Angela Jackson, Glenda (H'stead)
Callaghan, Jim Jamieson, David
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Jessel, Toby
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Canavan, Dennis Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)
Cann, Jamie Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)
Chaplin, Mrs Judith Jowell, Tessa
Clapham, Michael Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Clelland, David Keen, Alan
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Kennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S)
Coe, Sebastian Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn)
Coffey, Ann Khabra, Piara S.
Cohen, Harry Kilfedder, Sir James
Connarty, Michael Kilfoyle, Peter
Corbyn, Jeremy Kirkwood, Archy
Corston, Ms Jean Leighton, Ron
Cox, Tom Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE) Livingstone, Ken
Cunningham, Dr John (C'p'l'nd) Llwyd, Elfyn
Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire) Loyden, Eddie
Dafis, Cynog Lynne, Ms Liz
Dalyell, Tam McAllion, John
Darling, Alistair McAvoy, Thomas
Davidson, Ian McCartney, Ian
Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral) Macdonald, Calum
Davies, Quentin (Stamford) McFall, John
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Mackinlay, Andrew
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l) McMaster, Gordon
Denham, John McNamara, Kevin
Dewar, Donald Madden, Max
Dixon, Don Mahon, Alice
Dobson, Frank Mandelson, Peter
Donohoe, Brian H. Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S)
Dover, Den Martlew, Eric
Dunnachie, Jimmy Maxton, John
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Meacher, Michael
Eagle, Ms Angela Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Eastham, Ken Miller, Andrew
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter Morgan, Rhodri
Enright, Derek Morley, Elliot
Evans, John (St Helens N) Morris, Rt Hon A. (Wy'nshawe)
Ewing, Mrs Margaret Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Fabricant, Michael Mudie, George
Fatchett, Derek Mullin, Chris
Faulds, Andrew Murphy, Paul
Fisher, Mark Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Flynn, Paul O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)
Foster, Don (Bath) O'Hara, Edward
Fraser, John Olner, William
Galbraith, Sam Patchett, Terry
Garrett, John Pickthall, Colin
Gerrard, Neil Pike, Peter L.
Godman, Dr Norman A. Pope, Greg
Gordon, Mildred Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E)
Graham, Thomas Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Primarolo, Dawn
Grocott, Bruce Purchase, Ken
Gunnell, John Quin, Ms Joyce
Hain, Peter Richards, Rod
Hall, Mike Robathan, Andrew
Hannam, Sir John Robertson, George (Hamilton)
Hanson, David Roche, Mrs. Barbara
Harris, David Rooney, Terry
Henderson, Doug Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Hendron, Dr Joe Rowlands, Ted
Heppell, John Ruddock, Joan
Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L. Salmond, Alex
Hill, Keith (Streatham) Sheerman, Barry
Hinchliffe, David Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Home Robertson, John Shersby, Michael
Shore, Rt Hon Peter Tipping, Paddy
Simpson, Alan Turner, Dennis
Sims, Roger Tyler, Paul
Skinner, Dennis Wallace, James
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E) Walley, Joan
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent) Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S) Wareing, Robert N
Spearing, Nigel Wigley, Dafydd
Spink, Dr Robert Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Steel, Rt Hon Sir David Winnick, David
Steinberg, Gerry Wise, Audrey
Stevenson, George Wright, Dr Tony
Straw, Jack
Sweeney, Walter Tellers for the Ayes:
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury) Mr. Malcolm Wicks and
Taylor, Matthew (Truro) Mr. Malcolm Chisholm.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Hugh Bayley, Mr. Sebastian Coe, Mrs. Margaret Ewing, Dr. Joe Hendron, Ms. Tessa Jowell, Sir James Kilfedder, Mr. Elfyn Llwyd, Ms. Liz Lynne, Mrs. Alice Mahon, Mr. Roger Sims, Rev. Martin Smyth and Mrs. Audrey Wise.