HC Deb 11 February 1994 vol 237 cc566-86

Order for Second Reading read.

9.36 am
Mr. Kevin Barron (Rother Valley)

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

I wish to thank the co-sponsors of the Bill, for without their support its passage to Second Reading would have been immeasurably more difficult.

I also wish to record the support of two friends of the House whose loss we have had to bear in recent weeks. I know that, like me, Members on both sides of the House regret their absence. Jo Richardson, the late Member of Parliament for Barking, in spite of being so ill, wrote to me on 24 January saying that she would certainly vote with me today, but would have to be nodded through the Division Lobby; and Jimmy Boyce, the late Member of Parliament for Rotherham, had pledged his support for the Bill. I hope that the House can quickly conclude the business today to allow time for many Members who are travelling to Rotherham to be in time for Jimmy's memorial service, which is being held later today.

The Bill has been brought before the House because it is an essential public health measure, one which was first recommended to the Government in 1962 by the Royal College of Physicians, when it published its first report on the health effects of smoking. Since then, both Labour and Conservative parties have occupied the Government Benches, and we still await a total ban on tobacco advertising and promotion.

Since 1962, according to the Royal College of Physicians, more than 4 million citizens of the Uniied Kingdom have died from lung cancer, heart diseases, stroke, emphysema and other diseases caused by smoking. The House now has a real chance to put to an end the promotion of the cause of those diseases.

Mr. Barry Field (Isle of Wight)

The hon. Member mentioned the Conservative and Labour parties. Does he think that it might be helpful if there was a register of interests of the leaders of parties who smoke? I know that the leader of the Labour party does not smoke, and we know that the Prime Minister does not smoke, but I believe that the leader of the Liberal Democrats is a smoker. Does the hon. Gentleman believe that that will contribute to the debate?

Mr. Barron

The hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Field) should wait to see what the Bill is about before he makes such ill-informed comments. This is not a party political issue. Those who have died and who continue to die from diseases caused by smoking were or are supporters of all political parties. The children who are being recruited to smoking—500 every day on average—have parents who support all political parties. This is an issue of public health and, as such, should not divide the House.

I have had several letters from interested parties suggesting that the Bill is about banning smoking or banning freedom. The Bill is not about banning smoking. Adult smokers who are properly informed of the dangers of smoking have a right to smoke, provided that they do not cause harm to other people. However, the individual right to smoke does not extend to children, and it does not extend to the unrestricted advertising and promotion of the product.

Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)

Some 400 or 500 of my constituents are employed by Gallaghers; I have no commercial interest of my own. I do not smoke, and I have caned children for smoking because I do not believe that children should smoke—[Interruption.] Let it be noted. The hon. Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron) rightly says that people must have the freedom to choose whether to smoke. Why does he object to the argument of the Pre-School Playgroups Association, which talks of advertising freedom? It is an important freedom, and it must be wrong to dictate to advertisers. I wait to be convinced.

Mr. Barron

I am coming to that point now. If the House gives me 10 minutes in which to explain what the Bill is about, I shall be more than pleased to give way to any hon. Member who wants to ask about the intention of the Bill.

There is no fundamental right to advertise and promote products in our society. It is a commercial privilege to advertise—a privilege that carries certain responsibilities. The advertising and promotion of tobacco products is already banned on radio and television, and is further restricted by clauses in the voluntary agreement. The argument against a ban on tobacco advertising has already been conceded. It was conceded in this country in 1965 when we took cigarette advertising off television. I hope, therefore, that the House is clear what the Bill is not about.

I now come to what the Bill is about. Clause 1 makes it an offence to publish or cause to be published an advertisement for a tobacco product. The object of the Bill is to put an end to the promotion of an addictive and dangerous drug; half-measures are not enough. The definition needs to cover not only posters and press advertisements, but publicity linked to sponsorship of events and other such devices for getting round a ban. That is the fundamental aim of the Bill.

Under clause 1(2), some point of sale advertising is exempted. Point of sale advertising is allowed for specialist tobacconists, but it must not be visible from outside the shop. For the ordinary retailer, who also sells sweets and comics to children, the Bill states that only a notice of brands and their prices, complete with a health warning, is permissible.

The Bill also gives a definition of what is meant by an advertisement for a tobacco product. The wide definition in clause 1(6) covers any form of communication which might reasonably be considered to promote…smoking. Subsection (7) gives guidance on how to interpret that definition. The wide definition is vital, and experience abroad shows why. One would scarely know that there was a ban on tobacco advertising in Italy, as tens of million of pounds are spent every year on television commercials and other promotions for Marlboro shirts and Camel watches.

One has to read the small print on television screens to see that one Marlboro advertisement is purportedly for racing helmets for grand prix drivers. I do not believe that Italy is a nation of grand prix drivers. Such advertisements are the means of getting round advertising bans.

Tobacco companies sponsor sports and arts events, not as an act of corporate generosity, but as an advertising opportunity. M. Whitehead from Gallagher International said Sports sponsorship…is a form of advertising which enables us to introduce glamour and excitement. A Rothmans spokesman said: No one hands over big cheques just to give themselves a warm fuzzy feeling."

Mr. John Carlisle (Luton, North)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Barron

I will give way in a minute. I want first to address some of the comments made about the Bill this week by the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle).

The tobacco industry spends about £8 million a year on sponsorship. It is limited to that amount by the current voluntary agreement. That figure represents about 3 per cent. of commercial sponsorship of sport and should not be too difficult to replace. It was the Government supported by the hon. Gentleman who, in 1985, introduced the restrictions on sports advertising precisely because Gallagher International and others were using sport to promote tobacco.

Mr. Carlisle

The hon. Gentleman and other Opposition Members should make two points clear from the start. First, is the Bill part of Labour party policy? There seems to be some disparity of opinion between the hon. Gentleman, his hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) and his hon. Friend the Member for Redcar (Ms Mowlam).

The Labour party did not mention a ban on advertising in its manifesto or in its charter for sport. Are Labour Members now saying that it is party policy that sports promotion by tobacco companies will be banned under a future Labour Government?

Secondly, is the hon. Gentleman—

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Janet Fookes)

Order. Interventions should, by their nature, be short. That intervention is long enough.

Mr. Barron

It is interesting that the hon. Member for Luton, North seems to have become a custodian of Labour party policy. He seems to have stepped away from the position in party politics that I thought he held.

The hon. Gentleman cannot have been listening earlier, because I said that the Bill was a private Member's Bill. The only people I consulted before introducing the Bill were those concerned about public health. Whether the Bill is part of Labour party policy is not a matter for me. It is an issue of public health, and I believe that that should override all party politics in the House.

The Test and County Cricket Board has written to me recently saying that it is opposed to a ban on sports sponsorship by tobacco companies. The letter may have been prompted by a radio interview I gave a few days ago. Although the board may be opposed to a ban, it has previously said that other sponsors could be found to take the place of Benson and Hedges. Its spokesman, Peter Smith, said in an article in the Yorkshire Postin May 1971: We get a number of inquiries asking when a contract comes to an end. I expect we would be able to sell the Benson and Hedges again to a new sponsor. Similarly, David Harrison, the chief executive of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association said in the same article: If we had to replace our tobacco sponsor, we believe we could do so". A number of other options are clearly becoming available. Perhaps the new national lottery could provide a valuable bridge. I want hon. Members to remember that only 3 per cent. of sports sponsorship is tobacco advertising. The Bill would not prejudice sport. I have been active in sport in an amateur capacity for most of my life, and I watch one of the finest football teams in Great Britain—Rotherham United. It is a non-smoking club; that is its policy. We do not need smoking to be involved in sport.

The consequence of the wide definition of tobacco advertising, especially taken with the wide definition of the word "published" in English law, is that the Bill excludes innocent activities such as mentioning the name "Rothmans" in a conversation. That might otherwise be penalised. Clause 1(3) sets out the circumstances in which an offence will not be committed. Paragraph (a) exempts personal, unpaid endorsements of a tobacco product in conversation or letters and the like.

Paragraph (b) exempts communications that are not paid for by the tobacco industry and do not aim to promote a specific tobacco product. That covers journalism and innocent republications of tobacco advertisements in health, educational or historical contexts and the like. Sub-paragraph (c) exempts trade advertisements. Tobacco manufacturers would still be allowed to advertise to the retail trade. Sub-paragraph (d) exempts small-scale imports of foreign publications. Sub-paragraph (e) exempts materials produced in the United Kingdom for export.

In both sub-paragraphs (d) and (e), the limit is set at 5 per cent. of the total number of copies, or 1,000 copies, whichever is the lower. I recognise that that would be a point of debate if the Bill became law, and at some later stage I would be prepared to consider that issue.

Mr. James Couchman (Gillingham)

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that, if his Bill becomes law, it will be a devastating blow to health education? Is he aware that 17 per cent. of the space on most posters is taken up by the Government health warning and, in many cases, the message of the other 83 per cent. of the space is so obscure that one does not even know what product is advertised? He claims that £100 million a year is spent by the tobacco companies. Therefore, it could be suggested that 17 million will be lost to health education, which is 1.7 times as much as the Health Education Authority spends on preventing the promotion of tobacco.

Mr. Barron

I shall move on to that subject, but I agree with two words of the hon. Gentleman's intervention: "so obscure".

Paragraph (4) of clause 1 recognises a difficulty that would otherwise arise from the ban of indirect advertising using tobacco names or non-tobacco goods. As far as I see, it would affect one company only—Alfred Dunhill Ltd., which began as a luxury goods business and has remained so, but which has licensed its name to a tobacco company for many years. The paragraph will allow Alfred Dunhill Ltd. to continue to advertise its luxury goods but will not, of course, allow Rothmans International plc to advertise Dunhill cigarettes.

Mr. Richard Alexander (Newark)

On a point of clarification, would the Dunhill masters golf championships be able to continue?

Mr. Barron

That is sports sponsorship, and it would be stopped. Did not the hon. Gentleman hear what I said earlier in relation to sports sponsorship?

Paragraph (5) provides transitional exemptions, and would allow a year's grace for permanent structures of advertisements such as those at Piccadilly circus. Clause 1 covers the great majority of tobacco promotion, but clause 2 deals with free samples, coupon schemes, gifts and other promotions that tobacco companies use. I do not know whether any Conservative Members have ever been to Silk Cut discos, which are promoted to encourage young kids to get to know product names.

To sum up the rest of the Bill, clause 3 provides powers for the Secretary of State to make further regulations if anybody is trying to avoid the implications of the Bill. "Clause 4 lays down the penalties and the policing of it, clause 5 gives a simple definition of a tobacco product, and clauses 6 and 7 deal with the usual formalities.

Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South)

I agree that this is a cross-party Bill, but will the hon. Gentleman accept that, in Northern Ireland, there 17 times more victims of tobacco-related diseases than of terrorism? Is it possible that those Conservative Members who are objecting to the Bill are reflecting the view of a former Secretary of State who talked about an "acceptable level of violence"?

Mr. Barron

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that intervention. It sums up the crux of the Bill and what it fundamentally attacks in public health in the United Kingdom.

Why ban tobacco advertising? While adult smoking rates are falling, smoking rates in children are not. In 1982, according to the Office of Population, Census and Statistics, 35 per cent. of adults were regular smokers, and by 1992, the figure had fallen to 28 per cent.—a significant improvement.

For 15-year-olds in 1982, regular smokers made up 24 per cent. of the population and 23 per cent. in 1992. There has been no real change. By the age of 15, eight out of 10 people who become regular adult smokers have begun smoking. It is clearly not a mature decision that those people reach. At a rate of 500 per day, those children are replacing the smokers who quit or die.

Much research has been conducted on the factors that influence the uptake and maintenance of smoking by children. The major influences include smoking by parents and friends, health education, the price of tobacco, its availability and advertising and promotion. I shall take each of those in turn.

There is a limit on what the House can do about the smoking behaviour of parents and friends of would-be smokers. The House has made appropriations to support health education on smoking, and the Government have anounced a new programme targeted at parents, which will cost £4 million each year for the next three years. Although that expenditure is welcome, it is small compared with the £100 million spent every year on tobacco advertising and sponsorship.

Mr. Peter Thurnham (Bolton, North-East)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Barron

In a few minutes.

The Government's long-standing record on price policy is commendable, especially in the light of the Chancellor's latest commitment to increase tobacco duties by at least 3 per cent. a year in real terms in future. However, price policy alone will not work. It has not worked to reduce teenage smoking rates—15-year-olds smoke as much today as they did 10 years ago.

Mr. Thurnham

The hon. Gentleman comes from a northern consitutency, so he will be aware of the "Reg" campaign. Does he agree that that was in breach of the voluntary code and was targeted at children? All those advertisements plastered on billboards near schools must have had an effect on children.

Mr. Barron

Since I am from a northern constituency, the hon. Gentleman will not be surprised to know that I shall be mentioning "Reg" and the Advertising Standards Authority later.

Dr. Robert Spink (Castle Point)

Would the hon. Gentleman address two points before he moves on? First, does he agree that his Bill is a private Member's Bill, that it is not a matter for party politics, and that the House should be clear on that? Secondly, does he agree that his Bill is sincerely aimed at reducing and stopping the take-up of smoking among 15-year-olds and those below that age? If he does agree, it is a wholly laudable, key aim to the Bill, since, if those 15-year-olds smoke for 40 years and do not die of heart disease or lung cancer, they are likely to become respiratory cripples.

Mr. Barron

The hon. Gentleman's intervention identifies the main issues of public health, especially that of young and vulnerable children, which are addressed by the Bill.

The third reason for young people smoking concerns availability, by which I mean the illegal sales of tobacco to children under 16. That issue has been addressed and was initiated by the private Member's Bill sponsored by my hon. Friend the Member for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds). That Bill was warmly supported by the House, and has been admirably backed by the imaginative initiatives of Parents Against Tobacco and the Health Education Authority, with the full support of the Secretary of State for Health.

There is too much evidence for me to review of the influence that tobacco advertising has on consumption by young people. The most recent comprehensive review of the evidence was undertaken by the Department of Health and its chief economic advertiser, Dr. Clive Smee.

The Smee report found that tobacco advertising affected total consumption, not just brand share. There were 68 statistically significant results which pointed to a connection between advertising spending and tobacco consumption and only two indicating the opposite. The report also found that countries with stronger controls on advertising for the purpose of protecting public health and not trade monopolies tended to have lower consumption of tobacco. The report found that, in individual countries, the balance of evidence based on a study of the relationship between advertising spending and consumption over time showed that advertising had a positive effect on consumption.

When enough detailed evidence was gathered for a proper study, it was found that in four countries, advertising bans—excluding the effects of other factors—produced a significant drop in consumption. In Canada, tobacco consumption fell by 4 per cent., in New Zealand by 5.5 per cent., in Finland by 6.7 per cent., and in Norway by 9 per cent.

Mr. David Congdon (Croydon, North-East)

The hon. Gentleman rightly quotes the Smee report, which includes some of the arguments that he has advanced. Does he concede that page 15 of the Smee report states that, although some other studies have found statistically significant links between advertising and consumption, his study failed to do so? Is it not about time that proponents of an advertising ban quoted accurately from the Smee report?

Mr. Barron

Before I end my speech, I shall quote not only from the Smee report, but from a Government publication that the hon. Gentleman received this week about the implications of the Smee report on public health.

Other figures that I have received this week—not represented in the Smee report—showed that the drop in tobacco consumption following advertising bans in France was 5.2 per cent. and in Australia 6 per cent.

Mr. Hugh Bayley (York)

I am sure that my hon. Friend is aware that, in the conclusion to the report, Clive Smee, the Government chief health economist, said: The balance of evidence thus supports the conclusion that advertising does have a positive effect on consumption. He reviewed the position in other countries and concluded: In each case the banning of advertising was followed by a fall in smoking on a scale which cannot reasonably be attributed to other factors. Does he agree that it is possible for Conservative Members to pick odd sentences from the report, but the key factor is to study its conclusions and those of the Government chief health economist? They conclude that there is a link between advertising and smoking.

Mr. Barron

I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. We should also consider the Government view on the Smee report, and the material that they have published this week.

It is not difficult to conclude that, if similar effects were seen in the United Kingdom following an advertising ban, between 4,400 and 9,900 premature deaths from tobacco-related diseases could be avoided each year. As the effects of an advertising ban would be expected to work with other programmes designed to reduce smoking, the reductions in deaths might be even greater.

Critics of an advertising ban say that advertising does not influence consumption and has no effect on children. The evidence suggests otherwise. A study conducted by MORI for the Health Education Authority in 1990 found that children smoked the most heavily advertised brands at higher rates than among adults.

In 1990, £15 million was spent advertising Benson and Hedges and 47 per cent. of 11 to 14-year-olds chose that brand compared with 21 per cent. of adult smokers. Embassy spent £10 million, and was chosen by 22 per cent. of child smokers compared with 15 per cent of adult smokers. Silk Cut spent £9.9 million and was chosen by 29 per cent. of child smokers and 12 per cent. of adult smokers. Marlboro spent £5 million and was chosen by 13 per cent. of child smokers and 4 per cent. of adult smokers. In each case, a greater proportion of child smokers than adult smokers preferred the most heavily advertised brands.

The Advertising Association sent a booklet to all Members of Parliament this week, claiming that the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys had found that some of the most important factors in the uptake of smoking were, first, being a girl, secondly, having brothers or sisters who smoked, thirdly, having parents who smoked and fourthly, having relatively less negative views about smoking.

It is understandable that children should have negative views about smoking. It would seem that the advice of parents, teachers and health education campaigns are having an effect. How does a child acquire a less negative view on smoking? What instruments exist that help to form their opinions? Clearly, advertising is important in the formation of less negative views on smoking, and the Advertising Association has been damned by its own booklet.

A research study from Australia found that, while teacher-led education programmes can reduce the rate of smoking by up to 6 per cent., advertising encourages it in both sexes by about 15 per cent. Tobacco advertising works against education. That is obvious if one looks at the matter in any detail.

There is unacceptable competition for the hearts and lungs of our children if tobacco advertisers spend £10 for every £1 spent by health educators. It is a disadvantage, and it should not continue. We should either increase expenditure on education on the dangers of smoking to the level spent by the tobacco industry, or we should get rid of the counter-education. If we do not, smokers will continue to be recruited from our children at the current rate.

My constituency of Rother Valley provides a good example, as do those of other hon. Members. There are about 1,300 15-year-olds in my constituency, of whom about 300 are regular smokers. If they keep smoking and stay brand-loyal for the rest of their lives, which is what the tobacco companies want them to do, at least one in three, or about 100, will die from cancer, heart disease or other diseases caused by smoking.

No other threat of that size, including those posed by hard drugs, alcohol and motor vehicles, faces the children in the Rother Valley or in any other constituency. For every 1 per cent. reduction in consumption in the Rother Valley, one premature death will be prevented. Across the country, a 1 per cent. fall in tobacco could be expected to prevent 1,100 premature deaths. The House should be proud to be responsible for lessening smoke-related deaths.

Mr. David Alton (Liverpool, Mossley Hill)

The hon. Gentleman enjoys widespread and strong support on both sides of the House. Is he aware that eight directors of health in the Mersey region have issued figures that show that of the 480,000 children, some 80,000 of them—one in six—are likely to die of smoking-related diseases? Hon. Members should take notice of those statistics, and not the blandishments of the advertising industry.

Mr. Barron

I agree with every word that the hon. Gentleman said.

Monday's Government press release on the voluntary agreement is full of inconsistencies—I hope that the Minister does not mind me saying that. In that release, the Minister referred to effective and long-standing voluntary agreements that have "served us well". It goes on to say that the agreement is to be strengthened. Why does it need to be strengthened if it has worked so well? It does not work well, and has not. Children's smoking rates have not changed in the past 10 years.

The voluntary agreement covers women's magazines. It prohibits cigarette advertising in magazines whose primary readership is women in the age range from 15 to 24 years. Despite that, tobacco advertisers still promote the leading cause of lung cancer among more than 7 million female readers of other magazines. They do so at a time when female lung cancer death rates are rising and have overtaken breast cancer death rates as the no. 1 cause of cancer death in some parts of the United Kingdom. It borders on lunacy to continue to allow the promotion of a major cause of an increasing epidemic of lung cancer in women. When asked about that, the advertising industry ducks for cover and says, "We cannot possibly comment, because we are not health experts." As long as the industry can continue to advertise cigarettes, it does not care.

Recently, there has been the appalling farce of 'Reg', a comic character used to promote Regal cigarettes in the north of England, Scotland and Wales. Despite warnings 12 months ago from Action on Smoking and Health and Campaign about Reg's popular appeal to children, the Advertising Standards Authority did nothing about the 'Reg' campaign until it was confronted with excellent research commissioned at a cost of £20,000 by the Health Education Authority. That research showed that Reg was recognised by 91 per cent. of children as promoting cigarettes, but that he was recognised by only 48 per cent. of adults. He was twice as popular with children.

The ASA recommended that the 'Reg' campaign be withdrawn, and Imperial Tobacco, the maker of Regal, apparently obliged. In fact, at the press conference that I held to announce my intention to introduce the Bill, it was mentioned to me for the first time that 'Reg' was going to be withdrawn because of what was happening with the campaign in certain parts of Britain.

One month later, a mother from Cardiff brought to my attention an advertisement for the 'Reg' Welsh snooker challenge. That advertisement was given to her in a busy shopping centre, when many children were present. On her behalf, I complained to the Advertising Standards Authority, and last week I was advised that that campaign was the only exemption because the promotion had commenced before the ASA's ruling in December.

Last week, we found billboards in the same areas of Britain where 'Reg' is well known by children—that is, Scotland, the north of England and Wales—advertising "a farewell address". The advertisement is in the same colour and in the same style as the previous 'Reg' campaign.

On Monday morning, I was involved in a discussion on Radio Leeds. The presenter of the programme, Stephen Le Fevre, questioned Caroline Crawford from the Advertising Standards Authority about the new campaign that had come about in the north. As for the farewell address, Le Fevre said: It has got 'Reg' in there-are they not just making a fool of your recommendations? Caroline Crawford replied: Certainly, they are in a way, saying goodbye to the 'Reg' campaign. People are flouting a sensible interpretation of the code, or the code is so defective that all that one has to do is to remove Reg's face from a poster, and the poster falls within the voluntary agreement.

How long will it before young people do not recognise that advertising campaign? How many others will be encouraged to smoke? It has been confirmed this week that removing the face from the poster enables the poster to be within the voluntary agreement, and that will make fools of us, the voluntary agreements and the Advertising Standards Authority for ever and a day. The campaign is also making a fool of attempted restriction.

Mr. Michael Fabricant (Mid-Staffordshire)

There is confusion among hon. Members. Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that the ban on radio and television advertising of cigarettes and, more recently, cigars is not voluntary, but is a Government ban?

Mr. Barron

There is speculation in the media that, as a consequence of my Bill, there might be further Government bans. Perhaps we should go one step further.

The essence of the cigarette code is: advertisements should not encourage people, particularly the young, to start smoking. People who already smoke should not be enticed to increase their level of smoking or to smoke to excess". That objective is contradicted by the Government's action plan.

Mr. Thurnham

The hon. Gentleman is making an excellent speech. I am glad that he has started to comment more fully on the 'Reg' campaign. I have just received a note from Hansard, asking what the 'Reg' campaign stands for and to confirm the 'Reg' campaign. It is clear that people in the south of England are not familiar with that campaign.

They do not know the extent to which it is plastered over billboards, certainly in my constituency, near schools, and is clearly aimed at youngsters. There might be hon. Members who still do not understand exactly what the campaign is. It concerns a balding, somewhat absurd character who thinks—[Interruption.] Perhaps I should leave it to the hon. Gentleman to continue his speech and make it clear exactly what 'Reg' means.

Mr. Barron

I gratefully accept that invitation. The hon. Gentleman correctly described Reg. He wants people to smoke Regal cigarettes. The first Reg advert showed a Regal cigarette packet, with Reg's finger covering the letters A and L. Reg says: I smoke 'em because my name's on 'em. He then went on to "party politics", did our character Reg.

He said: If you drop ash on the carpet, you won't get invited again. We then go on to Reg on the greenhouse effect. He said: My tomatoes seem to grow better under glass. Reg on television: No, I'm not. I'm on a poster. Reg on train spotting: There's one. That is Reg's schoolground humour to induce young people to recognise that as cigarette advertising, and 91 per cent. of them do. Now we have everything but Reg. An advertisement shows a suitcase with a label stating "Dunadvertisin' Bognor Regis"—some people in the north might say "Bognor Reg's"—and it flouts anything that we can do to protect young people from tobacco. That is what voluntary agreements are delivering, and it is not good enough. We must protect young children.

When I explained the cigarette code, I said that it contradicted the Government's action plan. Paragraph 4.52 of the Smee report states: The review supports the Government view that there is a relationship between tobacco advertising and total tobacco consumption". It further states: the Government believes that it would be desirable to take further steps to reduce the potential for tobacco advertising to encourage people to start smoking or to smoke more". It is my firm belief, given the way that the voluntary agreement has failed to protect children from Reg, that the only way to ensure that tobacco advertisements do not have any influence on our children is to get rid of them. I invite hon. Members to join me, all the royal medical colleges, the National Consumer Council and, more important, the 60 per cent. of the British public who, in every survey, have said that they want to ban tobacco advertising.

I invite hon. Members to join me not only in the Lobby today but throughout the passage of the Bill, so that we can provide proper protection for the nation, not the half-hearted protection that we have in voluntary codes.

Several hon. Members


Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. It must be clear that there is great interest in the Bill. Therefore, I ask succeeding speakers to be as brief as possible, so that as many hon. Members as possible may contribute.

10.18 am
Sir Peter Emery (Honiton)

I must make it clear that I am the unpaid national chairman of the National Asthma Campaign. Although that is not a declarable interest, I do not want anybody to be under any misapprehension.

Let us stop some of the cackle. I congratulate the hon. Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron) on bringing forward the Bill and on an extensive speech in which he dealt with many interruptions. In cutting the cackle, let us be in no doubt: smoking is unpleasant, it is dirty, it is physically dangerous, and now, with conclusive evidence of the effect of passive smoking, it is an anti-social habit when carried out in public.

Those are some of the basic reasons why we want to ensure that smoke decreases. No one supporting the Bill wishes to ban smoking—that must be left to individuals to decide. However, people should not be lulled into smoking by advertising that suggests that it is socially an advantage to smoke, that smoking makes young people become members of a peer group, that it somehow enhances a person's attraction to the opposite sex or, indeed, that it relieves stress. None of those things are true and they need to be nailed immediately.

In passing, I pay a tribute on the death of Josephine Richardson. I knew Josephine probably better than any other hon. Members in her early days because we fought our first political battle over a seat on the Hornsey borough council back in 1951. She was the thorn in my flesh when I was the chairman of the Hornsey housing committee for many years. She suffered a great deal in the latter part of her life but still gave service to the House, and hon. Members should give credit to her.

If what I previously suggested is not true, what is true? Smoking is the largest preventable cause of death. Hundreds of people die from smoking-related diseases every day. Smoking is also a major cause of serious ill health, and it is estimated that more than 250,000 admissions to hospital every year are due to smoking-related illness. It is increasingly clear that smoking not only affects the health of those who smoke; passive smoking has become a significant public health issue. Those are not my words; they are the Government's words contained in a booklet.

Mr. John Marshall (Hendon, South)

My right hon. Friend has talked about passive smoking and made some very dogmatic comments about it. Did he read the article in The Times this week which suggested that medically the evidence is less strong than he is dogmatically asserting?

Sir Peter Emery

I did not read the article in The Times. All I can say is that all the medical evidence on asthma—I can talk about that from personal experience—is that asthmatics find that passive smoking is a specific trigger for further asthma attacks. There is no doubt about that—it is factually correct.

Mr. Tom Cox (Tooting)

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that one of the most moving occasions in the House was about a year ago in the Jubilee room when Roy Castle, the entertainer, came here? Someone who had never smoked in his entire life had lung cancer as a direct result of passive smoking.

Sir Peter Emery

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his added support and the evidence that he has provided.

"Smoking causes cancer". "Smoking causes heart disease". "Smoking causes fatal diseases". "Smoking kills". "Smoking when pregnant harms your baby". "Do not make children breathe your smoke". Those are not my statements, but they are fairly damaging. It has now been agreed legally that those statements will be rotated on all cigarette packets. Surely that is a sign that even tobacco companies accept that those statements have to be made and are, indeed, true.

Mr. Robert Banks (Harrogate)

Is not my right hon. Friend defeating his own object, as it is understood that the vast majority of people in this country understand the dangers of smoking because advertising has put across the message about smoking harming health?

Sir Peter Emery

I like my hon. Friend very much but I find the logic of that question slightly absurd. If it is proved—as it is—that advertising must have some effect on increasing smoking, whatever the advertisements say, they are still being put forward with the intention of making people smoke more. Otherwise, why do companies advertise? I shall come to that point in a moment.

I shall add to the important evidence in the Smee report, which was referred to by the hon. Member for Rother Valley. That report concluded that the evidence from four countries where tobacco advertising has been banned indicated a 'significant effect' on tobacco consumption. That is not a fool making that assumption; it is the economic adviser to the Department of Health. At the behest of the Government, he made this report. I quote: He noted that advertising could persuade children or adults to start smoking, smokers to smoke more or to continue, and quitters to start again. One study, quoted by Mr. Smee, showed that 44 per cent. of smokers agreed that 'smoking can't really be dangerous or the Government would ban cigarette smoking'. In a recent survey carried out by the National Asthma Campaign, 57 per cent. of people with asthma showed that passive smoking caused them difficulties. In July 1993, Dr. John Britton, of Nottingham University, working with National Asthma Campaign funding, announced his findings that women who smoke during pregnancy are significantly more likely to produce children with asthma than women who do not. These women may unwittingly be precipitating in their unborn child the occurrence of a potentially fatal illness. Surely, we should look at that instance.

The British Thoracic Society, meeting in Dublin this year, made it clear that Children whose mothers smoked heavily during pregnancy, and during their child's early years, are over 30 per cent. more likely to develop asthma or experience wheezing by the time they are 16. The study was not small; it was carried out among 15,000 children who were born in one week in 1970. I quote: Among children not exposed to cigarette smoke, 29 per cent. were reported to have asthma symptoms by the age of 16. Among children whose mothers smoked 25 or more cigarettes a day during pregnancy and early childhood, 39 per cent. had asthma symptoms—an increase of over 30 per cent. Low birth weight babies were also much more likely to develop asthma. Fifty per cent. of those in the study born under 1.5 kg had experienced wheezing illness by the age of 16. Those are some of the results of cigarette smoking.

If we break down the figures for advertising, £60.4 million is spent on press advertising, £11 million on television, £16 million on posters—I am delighted that the Government are moving in this direction and we must give them credit for that; I hope that our action is hastening them along in this way—and about £14 million on other promotions. Can any hon. Member honestly put his hand on his heart and tell me that that money is being spent not to encourage people to smoke? What is it not meant to encourage—anyone to take up smoking? I am more likely to believe that the money is being given as a gift to the advertising agencies than that cigarette companies are spending the money not to encourage people to smoke.

Mr. Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley)

I have a convenience store in Swansea, and I sell tobacco products.

Mr. Paul Flynn (Newport, West)

Drug pusher.[Laughter.]

Mr. Evans

It is a legal product. During the past 10 years, the turnover of my business of tobacco products has fallen from about two thirds to one third. That is fine, because the business has diversified into other products. There is not a monopoly of tobacco producers in this country and there are competing firms with competing brands. Is not advertising a way by which those firms include people who already smoke to switch brands, and not an inducement to non-smokers to take up tobacco?

Sir Peter Emery

I am sorry that I gave way before my next sentence, which was to deal with that subject. I cannot accept that this immense sum is spent to fulfil brand image between different brands of cigarettes. Of course, there may be some aspect of that, but the concept that that is the main reason for spending £100 million on advertising is nonsense.

Mr. Paul Tyler (North Cornwall)

I worked for many years in the advertising and public relations business. On one occasion, I had to turn down—because I could not touch it—an account from the Freedom Association for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco. FOREST is a front organisation for the tobacco industry, and I think that it now stands for the freedom for the right to eliminate somebody else's throat.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the sole reason for the industry investing such huge sums in advertising has nothing to do with brand loyalty, but is to replace with younger people those of their customers who are dying at the upper end of the age range?

Sir Peter Emery

I am interested in what the hon. Gentleman has to say. There is certainly a suggestion of that, although, as yet, there is no statistical proof. The House will take the point made by the hon. Gentleman from his own experience.

It is argued that we would be interfering with the liberty of people if we limited advertising. That might be true if the Government had not already taken the steps so to do. However, the Government have taken such steps. The libertarian argument is that if something is legal, it ought to be able to be advertised. That is the type of statement that we hear from those people.

There are a number of things that are legal but which cannot be advertised. That is not anything unusual. A barrister is legal—in more senses than one—but he is not allowed to advertise. [HON. MEMBERS: "They are."] If, in fact, one looks at the structure of law societies one will find that that is still discouraged. Sanitary products were initially banned, and those products are only allowed to be advertised on television only at certain times later at night. The concept that there are no controls over advertising for legal things does not hold water.

Rev. Martin Smyth

The House should examine the argument that because something is legal it is permissible. Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that if tobacco were a new drug coming on to the market, it would not be licensed by the Government? Does he also agree that it has been known for drugs to be taken off the market when they are found to be dangerous?

Sir Peter Emery

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention.

I wish to deal with one aspect of costs about which I know personally. It is widely accepted that passive smoking and smoking have an effect on asthma. The direct cost to the NHS of drugs and admissions to hospitals is £473 million a year on asthma, the estimated amount lost to industry because of the illness is £400 million, and the social security costs of sickness and invalidity benefit are £70 million.

That is a cost of just under £1 billion because of the problems of asthma in this country. There is positive proof that smoking is causing those difficulties to be accentuated, so surely we should take every step to discourage smoking. I am not alone in saying that—the Government are also saying it. They have produced smoking-related literature which outlines a strategy to reduce smoking. The Government have described their future action, and the effect of the price of tobacco. They have given a commitment to work with the European Community to encourage other European countries with prices lower than the United Kingdom to raise them to match our own.

The Government have dealt with the illegal sales of tobacco, health education, banning harmful new products, action in schools, health warnings, Government support to the voluntary sector—[Interruption.] I just want to build up a case, which hon. Members may not like. This is not my case, but the Government's. I am doing the Government's job.

The Government's strategy also deals with insurance premiums. The Department of Health will provide advice to insurance companies on the health effects of smoking, and will encourage them to consider whether they should introduce or extend preferential treatment to non-smokers. The strategy contains a commitment to effective controls of advertising, smoking in public places, smoking in the workplace, action in Government Departments, action to ensure a virtually smoke-free NHS and action on a research programme.

In all those positive moves to ensure that smoking is decreasing, the one thing that the Government have left out is advertising. They know and I know that advertising encourages people to smoke. The real problem that must be faced is the £7.5 billion which comes in tax on tobacco products.

The Minister for Health (Dr. Brian Mawhinney)

My right hon. Friend has done a most marvellous job of reviewing the Government's strategy. In a desire to be helpful to him, I will inform him that he will find that advertising is included in that strategy.

Sir Peter Emery

I think that I did refer to it. [HON. MEMBERS: "You said that it had been left out."] I did refer to effective controls on advertising. Hansard will tell us whether I did refer to advertising. [Interruption.]

Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. Seated interventions from hon. Members trying to assist another Member with a speech are not helpful.

Sir Peter Emery

Even if they are trying to assist, they are not helpful.

I was trying to say that the Government are building up a massive case against smoking. I do not think that the Government will actually approve the Bill, although I believe that they are willing to see that it goes to Committee. That would allow greater discussion on the matter, even among those people who are against it. We can argue the matter better in Committee than we can on the Floor of the House.

The real reason why the Government cannot support the Bill is because £7.5 billion comes in tax. If advertising were to be banned and cigarettes were to fail absolutely, where would that money come from? Would taxes have to be increased?

Mr. Bayley

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, in their "Health of the Nation" programme, the Government have set a target of reducing the number of cigarettes sold from 98 billion in 1990 to, I believe, 57 billion in 2000? The Secretary of State for Health, in setting that target, must have spoken to the Chancellor and explained to him the tax implications of the Government's policy for reducing the number of cigarettes sold. Will not the Treasury have taken account of that already?

Sir Peter Emery

I understand what the hon. Gentleman is saying. Indeed, it is the Government's policy to attempt to reduce smoking by about 40 per cent. by the turn of the century. What I am saying to the Government is that considerable financial benefits would accrue to the Treasury from moving more quickly than the Government propose. That is why I gave the list of the costs of just asthma to the nation, amounting to almost £1 billion. The Bill would assist in bringing at least the 40 per cent. reduction through more quickly. The financial benefits to the nation would balance the loss in taxation.

We must consider the factors that I have listed. If we do not, we do not look at the whole picture.

Ms Marjorie Mowlam (Redcar)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Sir Peter Emery

No, I am sorry. I am just coming to a conclusion.

I have set out the various factors: the difficulties, the effect on health, the moves that the Government are gladly making to discourage smoking, the difficulties in carrying those moves through, but also the benefits that would accrue from reducing smoking. I have tried to bring a balance to the problems of the finance. I hope that the House will give the Bill a Second Reading. In Committee, there may be ways of making alterations to promotion or advertising only of cigarettes. We can debate all that not on the Floor of the House, but in Committee. Therefore, I hope that we can obtain a Second Reading for what is in many ways an admirable Bill.

10.41 am
Mr. Tom Cox (Tooting)

I agree with the comments of the right hon. Member for Honiton (Sir Peter Emery). I begin by congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron) on introducing the Bill. Despite the many interventions that he faced, he knows and the whole House knows that there is widespread agreement throughout the country among parents of young children, teachers in the schools that those children attend and, most certainly, the medical profession. There is no doubt that such agreement exists.

Some three years ago I was a member of the Standing Committee considering the Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Bill, which was introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds). That Bill, like the Bill that we are discussing today, had massive support. It went into Committee and we had some interesting discussions. I am sure that if my hon. Friend catches your eye, Madam Deputy Speaker, he will elaborate on what happened. The only way in which we could make progress on that Bill in Committee was by accepting amendments and making concessions that those of us on the Committee who supported the Bill did not want to make. Afterwards, we found that there was widespread annoyance among people outside who had been associated with the Bill, especially parents, about the concessions that had to be made so that the Bill would at least get through its Committee stage. I hope that we have learnt from those experiences.

I take the comments that you have made, Madam Deputy Speaker, and I realise that a great many hon. Members on both sides of the House wish to speak. I do not intend to speak for long, but I want to make a few comments that are relevant to the debate. In the past few days we have all received a document from the Minister for Health entitled "Smoke-free for Health". With that document he sent a letter in which the following statement was made: The voluntary agreements have served us well and the Government has no reason to believe that they will not be effective in delivering the firmer controls which are needed in some areas, particularly in respect of exposing children to tobacco advertising. We believe that they are preferable to a statutory ban. We received that letter on 7 February.

It so happens that on 2 February I received a letter from St. George's hospital in my constituency, one of the major hospitals in the United Kingdom. The letter was from Sandra Legg, the chief nurse and chairman of the smoking policy committee of St. George's hospital. What she said contradicted completely what the Minister said. Her leiter came three or four days before the letter and booklet sent to all Members of Parliament by the Minister. She said: As health care providers, St. George's Healthcare is keen to support any measures which promote health. There is, I believe, evidence to support a view that imposing a ban on tobacco advertising would decrease cigarette smoking and I would therefore welcome such a move … The Trust has taken steps to reduce smoking amongst its own staff, patients and visitors. From January 1st 1994 a total ban on smoking was introduced in all Trust buildings". So there we have a senior member of staff in one of the major hospitals of Britain stating a view based on her and her colleagues' experience, which is contrary to the line that we have been given by the Minister for Health. The Minister says that a voluntary ban would succeed. But Sandra Legg, with the support of her colleagues, on the basis of her experience, doubts what the Minister seeks to tell us and sell to us.

I am sure that many Members of Parliament, irrespective of party, and people outside the House will take far more notice of highly qualified people in our health service who say that the voluntary basis has been tried before and, sadly, just has not succeeded. Now is the time for the Government to give support to this Bill.

Mr. Nigel Evans

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that many items for sale in shops—I probably sell most of them—would damage the health of the nation, particularly youngsters, if over-consumed. I am thinking of confectionery. Over-consumption might be said to damage the health of young people. Does the hon. Gentleman th ink that it would improve the health of the nation to ban or control advertising of any other items?

Mr. Cox

I certainly believe that there must be a much greater campaign on the effects of excessive drinking. [HON. MEMBERS: "Ah."] Yes, most certainly. I should have thought that all of us in the House know that we are repeatedly told that we should do this or that in our health service. Of course we should. The problem is the expenditure that such action would incur. That is why I believe that we are right to look at other products the consumption and use of which affects people's health. Possibly, at some future date we should deal with issues such as that named by the hon. Gentleman.

Today, however, we are considering smoking and the effect that my hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley seeks to make in introducing the Bill. There is ample evidence of the danger of smoking and, sadly, the damage that is caused to millions of people throughout Britain.

In an intervention on the right hon. Member for Honiton (Sir. P. Emery) I mentioned Roy Castle's visit. He has never smoked but throughout his life he entertained in clubs where the atmosphere was polluted by smoke. Sadly, that is how he developed cancer—through passive smoking. [Interruption.] It is no use hon. Members waffling on from a sedentary position. If they want me to give way, I will do so.

Mr. Peter Atkinson

(Hexham): How does the hon. Gentleman know that?

Mr. Cox

If the hon. Gentleman is referring to my comments about Roy Castle's sad illness, he was told that that was the cause after extensive medical examinations and opinions when he was treated by the national health service. To its credit, Roy Castle's very serious illness was detected, but the cost to the health service must have been substantial. I would be shocked if the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Atkinson) objected to someone who had never smoked but became very ill having the opportunity to go to hospital to find out what was wrong with him.

Dr. Spink

Is it not true that the hon. Gentleman did not know that that was the reason, but that medical experts stated it? We cannot substitute our amateur knowledge for that of the medical experts in that case or in any other.

Mr. Cox

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that comment. I received a letter from the British Medical Association—I am sure that it was sent to other hon. Members—dated 8 February. The Association is no doubt about what it wants. It writes: The BMA, on behalf of doctors, has always taken a very public stance in support of tobacco advertising being banned. There is overwhelming evidence which shows that advertising does attract new smokers, particularly among the young. As my hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley outlined, there is clear evidence that advertising affects young people and we have such evidence from many different sources.

If hon. Members listen to people outside this place, who look to us to introduce legislation that will benefit not merely their families but society, I believe that the Bill should get a Second Reading and go into Committee.

I was here last Friday when we debated the Energy Conservation Bill. No one seems to have argued today as they did then that, although the Bill contains many good measures, we must question its cost. That sort of blue herring has not been floated during today's debate and I hope that it will not be a consideration in a vote—it would be regrettable if we were forced to divide on the Bill. The Government have the opportunity to show their concern on this important issue and to respond to requests that the general public have made. The real test of the Bill will be in Standing Committee.

Heaven only knows how much this publication—"Smoke-Free for Health"—cost. I welcome it because there are times when Governments can say that they believe that it is essential to prepare the case and make it available for everyone to read, even though that may be expensive. I have already quoted one of the Minister for Health's comments in the document. That comment is totally denied by national health service workers.

I warmly support the efforts of my hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley, who presented this Bill, and those of my hon. Friend the Member for Warley, East three years ago. He did a great service to this country and was widely supported both by people and by organisations who understood the damage that he was seeking to overcome through the introduction of his Bill.

I hope that this Bill will not be opposed. Hon. Members who have been in the House for some time know that Standing Committees are the real place for discussion. Even if some of us have reservations, we do not want a good Bill to be killed off by bringing in the payroll vote who, if they were honest with themselves, would support the Bill.

I hope that the Minister for Health will not say that the Bill is good but that the Government have reservations about it. I also hope that if there is a Division the payroll vote will not be forced into the Lobby to vote against the Bill. I want the Bill to be given an unopposed Second Reading and to go into Committee, where the main issues can be discussed properly.

10.55 am
Mr. Tim Rathbone (Lewes)

I have no connection with the tobacco or advertising industries now, although I spent most of my business life in advertising and marketing, and therfore hope that I can speak with some background knowledge.

I yield to no one in my keenness to dissuade people from smoking, in spite of the fact that I have the occasional small cigar—that applies particularly to dissuading young people from smoking. The House will know of my interest in the problems of drug misuse. There is a definite link between the propensity to smoke and the chances of being lured into taking drugs, especially those that are smoked.

This debate is not about smoking, but about advertising and its probable effects, particularly on increasing the likelihood of people smoking cigarettes, I feel that I can make the most useful contribution by concentrating on advertising.

Mr. Peter Atkinson

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Rathbone

Why does my hon. Friend not hang on, because he does not even know what I am going to say? I I certainly will give way later.

The arguments against banning tobacco advertising do not rest on whether a link can be found between advertising and total consumption, although it is significant that there is no good evidence for such a link.

Mr. Barron

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Rathbone

Please may I make some headway?

Mr. Barron

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Rathbone

I resisted the temptation to intervene during the hon. Gentleman's speech.

Mr. Barron

Do not resist the temptation to give way.

Mr. Rathbone

I shall do so in a moment.

In mature markets, the role of advertising is almost always to focus on brand share—on growth among users, rather than generic market growth. That means manufacturers going after the people who use a product and want to buy it and persuading them to buy their brand. Even among market leaders, brand switching is a more common marketing objective than market building—that is an important point—whether they are marketing soap, automobiles, the use of energy, airline tickets, toothpaste or cigarettes.

It is interesting to note that 25 per cent. of smokers change brands once a year.

Mr. Barron

I do not wish to get into a philosophical debate about advertising in general. The Bill is about tobacco advertising. How can the hon. Gentleman stand up and say that, when all the evidence shows the contrary? The Government's publication, which we received this week, says that the Smee review supports the Government view that there is a relationship between tobacco advertising and total tobacco consumption. This is not a philosophical debate about advertising and take-up, but about studies directly related to advertising and the tobacco habit.

Mr. Rathbone

I knew that I was right to resist the temptation to give way to the hon. Gentleman earlier. If the hon. Gentleman, who gets frightfully over-excited about his Bill—I do not blame him, as everybody gets over-excited about their own babies—would listen to the arguments—

It being Eleven o'clock, MADAM SPEAKER interrupted the proceedings, pursuant to Standing Order No. 11 (Friday sittings).