HC Deb 10 December 1998 vol 322 cc479-89 3.32 pm
The Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Frank Dobson)

Today I present to the House our White Paper on tobacco which is entitled "Smoking Kills". That is a fact, and it has been known for years. That is why a lot of adults gave up smoking, but the number of adults who smoke has stopped falling. Worse still, the number of children who smoke is going up, with more girls than boys taking up the deadly habit.

It is a deadly habit. Out of 1,000 20-year-olds who smoke regularly, one will be murdered, six will die in road accidents, 250 will die in middle age from smoking and a further 250 will be killed by smoking later in life. Smoking causes 84 per cent. of deaths from lung cancer and 83 per cent. of deaths from other lung diseases such as bronchitis. It causes not just lung cancer, but cancer of the mouth, the larynx, the oesophagus, the bladder, the kidneys, the stomach and the pancreas. It causes one in seven deaths from heart disease. Smoking is very high among people who are severely mentally ill.

Smoking is now the principal avoidable cause of premature deaths in Britain. It hits the worst-off people hardest of all, and it is one of the principal causes of the health gap that leads to poorer people being ill more often and dying sooner. It harms people who do not smoke; smoking harms babies in the womb.

All those are good reasons why the Government are so determined to turn things round. Unless we tackle smoking, we cannot possibly achieve the reductions that everyone wants to see in deaths and illness from cancer and heart disease.

Unless we reduce smoking, we cannot reduce the inequalities in health that bear down most on the worst-off. We want to help existing smokers to quit the habit and help children and young people not to get addicted in the first place.

We face an uphill struggle because the tobacco companies are committed to doing everything they can to promote the sale of cigarettes. They have to keep recruiting new smokers to make up for the 120,000 of their loyal customers whom they kill off every year.

Most smokers take up the habit when they are children or young people. Few people start smoking once they are grown up. For years, the tobacco industry has poured millions into highly sophisticated advertising campaigns. People of all ages, including children, have been exposed to clever and eye-catching advertising material. All that will now change. Tobacco advertising is going to end, and it is going to end soon.

The White Paper spells out the measures that we will take, which will be targeted on children to protect them from being exposed to tobacco promotions. It will require sustained effort over a long period. Some benefits will not show up for decades, but unless we act now they will never show up. We will also be trying to help the seven out of 10 smokers who want to quit the habit. All that calls for a concerted plan of action, and that is what the White Paper outlines.

From 1989 until the last general election, the previous Government helped to block all European efforts to ban tobacco advertising and sponsorship. We changed that. We put Britain's full weight into getting a European directive through, and we succeeded. I pay tribute to the negotiating skills and powers of persuasion of my right hon. Friend the Minister for Public Health in achieving that.

As a result, a Europe-wide anti-smoking framework is in place. In this parliamentary Session, we propose to end tobacco advertising on billboards and in the printed media. Most tobacco sponsorship will end by 2003. Formula One motor racing, as a global event, may qualify for exemption until 2006 if—and only if—tobacco sponsorship funding and advertising are already being reduced.

The European directive is intended to keep to a minimum tobacco advertising in shops, and that will be fully applied in Britain through the law. The tobacco advertising ban will be backed up by an anti-smoking campaign. Over the next three years, we will put £50 million into an anti-smoking campaign. We want to make sure that children and young people no longer fall into the trap of seeing smoking as cool and a passport to adulthood.

We have negotiated with representatives of the hospitality industry a code of conduct for reducing smoking in public places. For a long time it has been illegal to sell cigarettes to children under 16. That law is frequently broken, so we are taking action to increase compliance by shopkeepers, and to promote more effective action by trading standards officers. Some individual shopkeepers and others knowingly and repeatedly flout that law. To deal with repeated offenders, we propose to introduce a new criminal offence, and we are looking at the practicalities of such a measure.

Following discussions with my officials, the National Association of Cigarette Machine Operators is issuing new rules on the siting and operation of cigarette vending machines, to make them inaccessible to children. We have also encouraged the companies that sell age-restricted goods such as alcohol, cigarettes and fireworks to develop an industry-wide proof of age card.

The package of measures is a tobacco advertising ban; a £50 million anti-smoking campaign; a crackdown on sales to children; a new criminal offence for repeated sales to children; new restrictions on vending machines; and the proof of age card. That package should make a real impact on the illegal sales of tobacco to children.

We must also consider those who are smoking already. Every 10 years, more than 1 million British people are killed by smoking. Most of the millions who will be killed by tobacco over the next few decades are already adult smokers. Most smokers say they want to stop, and they are the people we particularly want to help. If they keep on smoking, there is a 50:50 risk that they will eventually be killed by their habit, but if they stop smoking before they become ill, they will avoid most of the extra risk of death. It is really worth while for people to quit smoking.

As part of our effort to help those seven out of 10 adult smokers who want to quit, we are investing up to £60 million in the first ever comprehensive national health service scheme to help them to give up their addiction. That will involve all health professionals—midwives, health visitors, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and dentists—taking every appropriate opportunity to counsel patients to give up smoking.

That effort will be particularly targeted on smokers living in those deprived areas that have been chosen as health action zones. We shall encourage the use of nicotine replacement therapy, especially targeted on health action zones where free NRT products will be available for the worst off. Health improvement programmes in every part of the country will be expected to address the need to reduce smoking, particularly in the worst-off areas.

As part of the drive to reduce tobacco consumption, the Government raised tobacco duties by just over 5 per cent. in December last year, and again this year. Those and other measures set out in the White Paper amount to a formidable plan of action to stop children taking up smoking and to help existing smokers to quit. To achieve that, we shall need to counter the efforts of the tobacco companies. Evidence shows that, for most of the past 20 years, they have been planning to counter the loss of sales that might follow an advertising ban. That time has now arrived, so we can be assured that they will be well prepared. I am certain that, as I speak, executives in the tobacco industry are planning their strategy to keep up tobacco sales.

We must get ahead of the game, which is all the more reason why everyone who cares about the health of the nation should work together to support this strategy. I am confident that everyone who cares about the nation's health will do that.

Mr. Alan Duncan (Rutland and Melton)

I have never been a smoker and, personally, I dislike it. The Opposition welcome any sensible measures that reduce smoking, especially among the young. However, I have concerns and suspicions about some of the methods that the Secretary of State has outlined in today's much delayed White Paper.

The heavy emphasis on advertising is questionable. We have always known that the White Paper would not be a matter of principle, because the Labour party was prepared to sell its principles for £1 million. The Government believe that advertising is all right so long as it appears at speeds in excess of 150 mph.

The White Paper is largely about implementing a European Union directive. However, if Germany's challenge to the directive's validity is successful, the Government will be in a frightful mess.

Mr. Dobson

It is a German Government now.

Mr. Duncan

The Secretary of State may say that, but the way things are going with his party, it probably will be.

What is the latest position on that legal challenge, and when is a final decision likely to be made? Does the Secretary of State agree that, if brands are prevented from competing through advertising, they will instead compete more actively through price? The measures will also prevent advertising that encourages smokers to switch to less harmful brands, one hopes as a step towards giving up completely. Can the Secretary of State reassure the House that that sort of detrimental effect has been considered, and explain how those fears will not prove justified? Will he reconfirm that the advertising measures will allow genuine brand diversification companies to continue to advertise their non-tobacco products?

The Opposition fully support a voluntary proof-of-age scheme. Such voluntary measures will have the greatest impact on reducing smoking with the minimum of bossiness. We note what the Secretary of Stage said about the practicalities of introducing a new criminal offence and we shall look at that very closely, to ensure that it does not accidentally give rise to injustice.

It is revealing that nicotine patches are to be made available to those on low incomes. We understand that the incidence of smoking-related diseases is particularly pernicious among those on low incomes, so we can see what the Government are trying to do. However, it goes against everything that the Labour party has ever said about the health service. The Government are introducing a two-tier system of health service provision. They are introducing more of the rationing which they say does not exist. Is it not the case that making a nicotine patch available only to those on low incomes amounts to introducing a means test for health care? What is the relationship between nicotine patch manufacturers that have given money to the Labour party and those who will supply patches under this scheme?

If the European Court finds the directive illegal, will the Government seek to reintroduce it in United Kingdom legislation? Will the Secretary of State define the targets by which we can judge this policy's success or failure? What do the Government estimate the level of consumption among adults will be following the implementation of the measures? By how much will the White Paper reduce smoking? What will be the cost of nicotine patches to our health service under the means-tested proposals? How will that be offset by the reduced cost of treating smoking-related diseases set against the loss of tax revenues should smokers give up smoking?

We have waited a long time for this White Paper. We know that the Government's principles on this issue were for sale. We welcome any sensible moves to reduce smoking, especially among the young. The Secretary of State has watered down his original commitments. We look forward to reducing smoking in this country by persuasion rather than by bossiness, and by concentrating our attention on the young.

Mr. Dobson

It takes the biscuit when members of the Tory party who supported the previous Government talk about delays in the introduction of measures to tackle smoking. For 18 years they did virtually nothing, and for eight years they did everything they could to get help in cash or kind from the tobacco companies, and to block the European directive. They tried to prevent it at every turn, and it was only when we got into power and withdrew from the blocking minority, and persuaded other members of that minority to join us, that we got the European directive.

The Tories should make up their minds. Are they in favour of the directive or against it? We are confident that the directive is valid. It is strange that the hon. Member for Rutland and Melton (Mr. Duncan), who is one of the fanatical anti-marketeers, is now praying in aid—and no doubt in hope—the possibility that the German Government's challenge to the legality of the directive will be successful. We are satisfied about its legality. Most of the hon. Gentleman's comments bore a marked resemblance to the briefing drawn up over a long period by the Tobacco Manufacturers Association.

The hon. Gentleman was concerned about brand diversification. That practice was invented by the tobacco industry when it first contemplated the prospect of an advertising ban. It is all right if they diversify their brands, but we will not allow advertising that, in effect, uses a shirt or a pair of shoes to promote cigarette sales. The hon. Gentleman talked about injustice and about the sleazy people who, for profit, sell cigarettes time and again to children who are too young to smoke. The biggest injustice is the injustice done to children. Those people sell cigarettes to children knowing that half of them will die from smoking those cigarettes.

The hon. Gentleman is apparently as ignorant about nicotine patches as he is about everything else. Nicotine patches are available over the counter, not on prescription. We intend to provide patches in limited circumstances to the most deprived people in the most deprived areas as part of a course of treatment to help them cure their addiction.

The hon. Gentleman has been spreading slurs about the Novartis company, which is a reputable, international drug company. He has suggested that, because it sponsored an event at a Labour party conference, it has bought the Labour party. We also received money from Tate and Lyle, so presumably he thinks that that is why patients in hospitals get sugar in their tea. Perhaps he thinks that we should withdraw the use of the Novartis drug, cyclosporin, which is given to people who have had organ transplants, or Voltarol, which is used extensively for people suffering from arthritis. The hon. Gentleman's charge is absurd—as absurd as everything else that he has done.

Our hope and intention is that, by 2010—for it will take a long time—1.5 million fewer people will be smoking. I hope that our proposed measures will be even more successful, but that is an ambitious target, given that the number of adults who smoke has begun to rise, and has been seriously augmented by the large number of children who took up smoking while an idle, feckless Government did nothing about it.

Mr. Kevin Barron (Rother Valley)

Many organisations that are concerned about public health will welcome both the statement and the White Paper, as will the many thousands of people who work in the health service and must deal every day with the victims of tobacco addiction. I especially welcome the plan of action to cure nicotine addiction, which has been known about for 40 years but whose existence has been consistently denied. At long last, we have a Government who will act in this regard.

In view of what was said by the hon. Member for Rutland and Melton (Mr. Duncan), may I ask whether the White Paper contains any measures that could cure the Tory party of its addiction to the tobacco companies?

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

I doubt it.

Mr. Dobson

I agree with my hon. Friend.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron) on all that he has done over the years to promote efforts to reduce the number of smokers in this country. It should be remembered—this needs to be repeated whenever we hear propaganda from the tobacco companies, either directly or through their hired hands—that, until very recently, those companies denied that tobacco smoking caused lung cancer, and that even more recently they have denied that it is addictive. Both assertions were plain, downright lies. The tobacco companies knew that they were lies when they uttered and publicised them.

Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey)

The Liberal Democrats approve of the direction of Government policy. It makes a welcome change from the 18 years of hypocrisy during which the Tory party was persistently on the side of the tobacco industry, as a result of which hundreds of thousands of people paid the ultimate price.

We agree with the Government that smoking must be deglamourised. Given that his Department said this morning that those who sell cigarettes are effectively child killers, does the Secretary of State not think it inconsistent, if we are to have secondary legislation this year to ban billboard and other advertising, not to ensure that it comes into effect this year? According to the White Paper, it will come into effect as soon as is practicable, but five years is far too long. If we are to have legislation this year—given the formula one fiasco last year, and the lesson that the Government have learnt from it—can we not have legislation at the same time to ban tobacco sponsorship?

If we are really keen to stop young people smoking, will the Secretary of State revise the targets for reducing smoking among young people? A reduction from 13 per cent. to 9 per cent. over 12 years is hardly a tough target; the right hon. Gentleman really ought to go further and faster.

If the Government share the view that every citizen should have the right to be free from smoke in every public place, will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that, if the leisure industry does not agree to such arrangements, it too will be told that legislation may be introduced to require it to provide non-smoking alternative venues?

At home, the Government are committed to stopping 120,000 deaths a year from smoking. Will there be the same commitment abroad to combating the activities of the international tobacco companies, which are determined to recruit many people to lifelong addiction by using what is, in fact, the ultimate weapon of personal self-destruction?

Mr. Dobson

I suppose that I should thank the hon. Gentleman for his somewhat limited welcome for our proposal. All I can say is that it has been almost unreservedly welcomed by the Cancer Research Campaign, the British Heart Foundation and Action on Smoking and Health. We have met virtually every one of their requirements.

As for the timing of the intended measures, the hon. Gentleman should wait to see the regulations that we will introduce. As for similar efforts overseas, we support whole-heartedly the initiative that Dr. Brundtland has launched at the World Health Organisation to put together an international effort to restrain the international efforts of tobacco companies.

Mr. Joe Ashton (Bassetlaw)

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his excellent report, but there was one word that he did not mention: pubs. Is he aware that public houses are the only place where members of the public gather where there are no no-smoking areas? Despite ten-minute Bills being passed by the House and constant requests to the breweries, they adamantly refuse to introduce no-smoking areas.

Will my right hon. Friend ensure in the legislation that breweries do not get a licence to sell alcohol from a local authority without providing no-smoking areas in their public houses? Will he make a start on this House, because the conditions in the Stranger's Bar are absolutely dreadful? On December nights, the door must be held wide open because the staff can hardly breathe and the extractor fans do not work. Despite many others making requests, a no-smoking area in the Tea Room is still not available. In many parts of this House, people are entitled to have a segregated no-smoking area, but despite the complaints we make, it never happens.

Mr. Dobson

I thank my hon. Friend for his welcome for our proposals. We have been having serious negotiations with the hospitality industry and those who are responsible for licensed premises. They are introducing a new code of conduct, which—

Mr. Ashton

We have heard that 10 times before.

Mr. Dobson

I know, but let me finish. We have made it clear that, if the code of conduct does not deliver what those companies are promising, we will have to resort to legislation. We would, however, rather have the enthusiastic support of people in the licensed trade, restaurants and hotels. Many of them are gradually realising, as did the airlines, bus companies and train companies, that most people would rather be in a smoke-free area.

It is rather odd that, as far as I know, smoking has always been banned in the Chamber, but it was not banned by us. No one other than hon. Members is responsible for the rules in other parts of the House. I would be happy to see it setting an example.

Mr. Peter Bottomley (Worthing, West)

People will welcome the Secretary of State's analysis that it is vital to get young people who take up smoking to understand that they are doing what children do, not what adults take up. Will he give more prominence to the work of Dr. Malcolm Green and his colleagues at the British Lung Foundation, because, as well as hearts, lungs matter? Sometimes that is overlooked.

While considering where bans on smoking could be made, can we look forward to powers for taxi drivers to ban smoking in their cabs, which they have not, up to now, been able to do?

Will the Secretary of State continue to be aware that the ban on promotion might make a difference of between 1 and 7 per cent? The target should be to achieve the same level of reduction as was achieved 10 years ago on drink driving. The number of occasions when young men would drink and drive was cut by two thirds in two years, with no change of law or in sentencing. It was done effectively through the youth media, so, instead of Ministers saying that things are cool or uncool, it is far more useful for disc jockeys and others to talk about the dangers of smoking on their news and current affairs programmes. That would be more effective than a public service or health message.

Mr. Dobson

I accept the hon. Gentleman's point about trying to get a change of view, a change of culture, among the people concerned. As I always say, he deserves some congratulation on his contribution to changing public attitudes towards drink driving. That change in attitude was backed by the law—perhaps set on by the law—but, above all, habits were altered by a change in attitude. That is what we are trying to bring about. Therefore, I am prepared to consider all forms of advertising to try to catch the attention of young people.

It is sometimes suggested that young people understand the dangers that smoking poses to health, but there may be some evidence that many of them do not. As the dangers of smoking have been advertised in the adult world for the past 10 years, we tend to think that young people are aware of them, and that efforts have not been targeted on them. However, evidence from the United States, for example, shows that the best way of turning young people off smoking is by portraying accurately those who run the companies as a set of grasping people who, for the sake of profit, are willing to murder people.

Dr. Ian Gibson (Norwich, North)

It has indeed been an exciting week for cancer research, starting with work by British researchers on cervical tests that was funded by the Cancer Research Campaign and that will, over the next few years, save women's lives. My right hon. Friend fully supported that work. The week is nearing its end with today's announcement on cancer prevention. Does my right hon. Friend agree that it ill befits an Opposition to take seats on tobacco company boards and to take day trips to regattas and other United Kingdom events sponsored by the tobacco industry when that industry makes millions of pounds in profit and, as he said, kills our people? Does he agree that we should be as ruthless with tobacco companies' profits as those companies have been with their customers?

Mr. Dobson

I have always been rather reluctant to get into upbraiding anyone for their personal habits, and I shall not start now. However, I object to the habits of the tobacco companies' highly paid executives, who spend their time promoting something that they know will kill half of those who use it.

Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst)

Has the Secretary of State made any estimate of the tax revenue loss that would occur should he achieve anything like his stated target of 1.5 million fewer smokers by 2010? If so, will he tell us how he or his Treasury colleagues propose replacing that lost tax revenue, or what Government expenditure cuts would be necessitated by such a loss?

Mr. Dobson

The present Government, including the present Chancellor, support the policies that I have outlined today. In each successive Budget we intend to increase the price of cigarettes above the rate of inflation. If that action eventually has an impact on tax income, we shall address that problem when it arises. The sooner the problem arises and the greater it is, the better off the country will be.

Dr. Phyllis Starkey (Milton Keynes, South-West)

I welcome the statement as a great step forward in trying to reduce the number of young people taking up smoking. However, will my right hon. Friend tell the House what he will do to monitor the diversionary activities in which the tobacco companies are involved? I am concerned about their promotional activities at night clubs and other venues frequented by young people. I had direct experience of those activities when my daughter came home with promotional material designed not only to persuade her to smoke but to recruit her friends to do so. Will he take action to stop such activity?

Mr. Dobson

I am glad to say that all those matters are covered by the directive. The dishing out of promotional literature in night clubs—or youth clubs—will be banned, as will the issuing of free cigarettes, free sunglasses and all the other things that the tobacco companies have been using to promote the sale of cigarettes among young people. All those activities are covered by the directive which Conservative Members obstructed for the best part of 10 years, and which my right hon. Friend the Minister for Public Health negotiated through the maze of European structures.

Mr. Peter Brooke (Cities of London and Westminster)

I am a non-smoker, although I have to confess that I have taken pleasure in watching Benson and Hedges cricket—a game to which I am addicted. Historically, when does the Secretary of State believe that tobacco companies embarked on brand advertising? More importantly for the future, given that law enforcement officers believe that the drugs trade is now a significant and measurable element in world gross domestic product—although, obviously, without advertising—what does the White Paper forecast the fall in tobacco consumption will be over the next decade?

Mr. Dobson

We have targets rather than forecasts. The Government are putting an extra £35 million into stepping up the effort to reduce alcohol and tobacco smuggling. It is clear that the market that has been created is being supplied on the cheap by all sorts of dubious traders. Interestingly, the tobacco companies, which claim to be disturbed by the problem, do not seem able to cut off the supply.

Mr. Ken Maginnis (Fermanagh and South Tyrone)

Although my party welcomes any measure to reduce smoking, particularly among young children, I fear that the proposals will place a great responsibility on organisations such as the Tobacco Alliance—a group of responsible small shopkeepers who sell cigarettes within the law, but are being taxed at 5 per cent. per year, to the advantage of the bootleggers whom the Secretary of State deprecates. What can the Secretary of State do about the £3 billion of trade involved? Has he been to the coast of France and Belgium to see the extent of the trade? There is no control over it. I am told that 80 per cent. of the trade is carried out north of the Watford Gap, so it is not peculiar to coastal regions. Unless the Secretary of State tackles that, he might as well forget about his proposals, which, I repeat, we welcome.

Mr. Dobson

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his welcome for our proposals. We take smuggling seriously. I understand that the loss of revenue is about £1 billion—which may interest those who are bothered about revenue lost to the Government. The Conservatives did nothing about that when they were in office. We are putting more effort into attempting to counter smuggling, although I have not been to the coast of France and Belgium to check the situation. The tobacco companies must bear some of the responsibility, because their products are being smuggled. If they wanted to trace them to where they came from with markings on the packets, they could do so.

Mr. Derek Foster (Bishop Auckland)

I should declare an interest, although it is not a registerable one. There is a Rothmans factory in Spennymoor in my constituency employing 550 people. It is a good company that plays a full part in the life of the community. It is highly regarded by its employees and has a good relationship with the Manufacturing, Science and Finance Union. My other interest in the issue is that my father died at the age of 51 from emphysema, probably caused by smoking Woodbines, which were popular among the working class of his generation.

My right hon. Friend is not making a pitch for the votes of the 15 million smokers, who give £11 billion to the tax man—considerably more than they cost the health service. Nevertheless, I wholly welcome the report. Will he work with me and the Tobacco Workers Alliance to ensure that, if the jobs of my 550 constituents in an area of high unemployment disappear through the activities of my party, we shall ensure that there are other jobs for them to go to?

Mr. Dobson

I know about the death of my right hon. Friend's father. I can confirm that representatives of the tobacco workers have been consulted throughout the process, and will continue to be consulted.

It is worth noting that, in the previous 18 years, the number of people employed in the tobacco industry fell from 37,000 to 9,000, largely as a result of increased automation of the processes. That has been the principal cause of job losses, which have proceeded apace. As the tobacco company bosses are concentrating so hard on brand diversification, perhaps they might pay a little attention to diversifying the job opportunities of their employees. I do not think that we will upset most smokers by trying to help them give up smoking, as all the surveys show that seven out of 10 smokers would like to give up, but unfortunately they are addicted.

Dr. Peter Brand (Isle of Wight)

First, I welcome the emphasis placed on stopping children and young people starting to smoke in the first place.

Secondly, I am disappointed by the help that is being offered to the seven out of 10 who want to stop smoking, and who probably express that wish 10 or 20 times a day. People such as myself—I am addicted to my pipe—require consistent help to give up the pernicious habit. There is a great deal of evidence that people need support for at least six to 12 weeks. The Government are missing an opportunity by not offering people a supply of Nicorette as a condition of attendance at a clinic, as that would encourage people to turn up and to be successful in their attempts to stop smoking. A week's supply is neither here nor there and will not help anyone to make a real effort. Will the Secretary of State look at the results of the pilot project, and extend it when it is seen to be cost-effective?

Mr. Dobson

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his welcome. Although he is not a lawyer, he is probably more learned on this subject, given his medical background. I hope that he will not be too disappointed by our proposals. As I said, we want a concerted effort by the national health service, so that the medical, nursing, midwifery and pharmacy professions work in the same direction and take every opportunity to help. We intend to start by targeting effort on the worst-off people in the poorest areas, who almost automatically have a high incidence of smoking compared with well-off people in prosperous areas.

As part of their treatment, some people will be offered free patches for a week or perhaps longer. I understand that the patches cost £15 a week over the counter. Most smokers spend more than that on smoking, so if they are given some support, get to know how it feels to use the patches and benefit from them, and provided that clinical support continues, we hope that they will think it a bargain to spend a bit less on patches than they were spending on the cigarettes that were harming them.

Dr. Howard Stoate (Dartford)

May I add my congratulations and those of the vast majority of my general practitioner colleagues to my right hon. Friend? I have been watching the clock, and my calculations are that between 10 and 12 people have died in Britain from smoking since the beginning of his statement. Therefore, about 400 people a day need to be recruited to start smoking just to make up those numbers. How can we change the culture among young people from the idea that smoking is somehow glamorous, so that they consider it dangerous? Rather than cracking down on smoking, we need to show people the damage that it causes and that it is in their best interests if they never take it up in the first place.

Mr. Dobson

I thank my hon. and medical Friend for his welcome. We are trying to learn from campaigns in other parts of the world in an effort to reduce the number of children who are taking up smoking. However, it is a cultural matter, so we cannot simply take something off the peg in Massachusetts or California and assume that it will work in Scunthorpe or Surrey. We need to address what motivates and influences young people in our country. We have a substantial sum of money to do that, and we are prepared to contemplate almost any form of advertising and advocacy provided that we are convinced that it will work.

Mr. Barron

On a point of order, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker

I take points of order after statements.