§ Brought up, and read the First time.4.34 pm
§ Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham)
I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.
The new clause would require the Secretary of State to commission a reputable and appropriate qualified body to carry out a rolling study of the effects of the legislation on the prevalence of smoking in the UK population, with particular reference to those between the ages of 16 and 19, and those under 16, as well as its effects on market share. Furthermore, a report should be made to the House after three years and annually thereafter.
Throughout the passage of the Bill, our major concern has been with gaining the evidential basis for banning tobacco advertisements, not with the harmful effects of smoking, on which we are all agreed. The new clause is no more than what we and all right-minded people have been asking for throughout the progress of this long-travelling Bill.
§ John Robertson (Glasgow, Anniesland)
Will the hon. Gentleman clarify the point he just made? Is he saying that tobacco advertising has no effect on the age group that he mentions and that it does not encourage them to smoke, giving them a chance of dying prematurely?
§ Tim Loughton
Without going over old ground, the hon. Gentleman well knows that the case that has been made by hon. Members and by people in various industries is that there is no firm evidential basis. There are a number of reports. Some support the case that advertising has an effect on young people and some contradict that. The point is that there is no firm definitive study that without doubt can directly link tobacco advertising with the prevalence of smoking, particularly among children. That is the basis on which we proceed. As we have said all along, it is up to the Government, if they are to ban advertising, to make their case. The point is the link between advertising and smoking. No one disputes that smoking is harmful. It is. 40 It is a filthy habit. We hate it. We would like it to be rather less prevalent among the population, particularly the young. That point is not in dispute.
§ Mr. Kelvin Hopkins (Luton, North)
To look at the argument the other way, why do tobacco companies spend countless billions on advertising tobacco if there is no evidence that it has any effect?
§ Tim Loughton
The hon. Gentleman was a member of the Committee. He knows the arguments that have gone backwards and forwards. There are arguments of market share between different brands and a host of other arguments. That is not the point that we are debating in new clause 2. He will have ample opportunity to come up with the new evidence that the Government have signally failed to come up with over the several years that this legislation has been the subject of debate in the House.
The intention of all of us is to do anything we can to reduce the consumption of tobacco products, especially to prevent take-up among young people. All we are asking for in the new clause is good practice, a facility in the Bill to make changes if new evidence comes to light that the Act is having no effect, or even that it is proving to be counter-productive. Many people have made claims, some of them spurious, some not so spurious, that one of the main influences on prevalence of tobacco smoking is price. That is very dependent on the prevalence of smuggling and cheap availability of cigarettes. There is more evidence to suggest that those factors have more effect on smoking and on young children having access to cigarettes and taking up smoking than advertising does. If in a few years, when the Act has come into force and we have had enough time to judge its effects, a proper independent study deems that the Act is not having the intended consequences or worse still is proving counterproductive, the Secretary of State should have that information and be able to act on it. That is all we are asking for.
§ Mr. Nick Hawkins (Surrey Heath)
As my hon. Friend is aware, I have a big interest in the effect of the legislation on sport, particularly minority sports such as darts and fishing. He knows that the world darts championship takes place every year at Frimley Green in my constituency. If it turns out that these very popular sports are severely disadvantaged by the legislation, is that one of the aspects that could be reviewed?
§ Tim Loughton
Again, that is a major consideration that the Committee and many hon. Members have raised on numerous occasions. It is an important consideration because it potentially affects sports that are good for people—good for the health of young people. Without those sports, there will be other health implications.
§ Tim Loughton
I would like to answer one point at a time before I do so.
Of course, the point to which my hon. Friend referred is an implication of the new clause, but I am primarily concerned with studying the effect on the prevalence of 41 smoking. If, in a few years' time, the study shows that far from going down, the prevalence of smoking has increased, we need to know why. We will need to know whether the Act has had a counter-productive effect in some respects. Some would say that, without recourse to advertising, tobacco companies will resort to price-cutting among various brands, and, as I said, price is one of the most sensitive aspects of the prevalence of the smoking. If the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Hopkins) wants to intervene now, I shall take one more intervention and then try to make progress.
§ Mr. Hopkins
Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that the health-giving qualities of playing snooker, playing darts and driving fast motor cars counters the damage to millions of people's health from smoking?
§ Tim Loughton
I am not in the business of trying to undermine two very popular sports—darts and snooker. The international darts competitions ban smoking—the players certainly do not idle up to the oche with a fag in their hands. Those two sports have merits, which may not be health-related but give people an interest that keeps them out of trouble in many respects. I do not want to single out those two sports, but there are many other sports that currently have tobacco sponsorship that will lose that money. Those sports may have many beneficial effects in making sport available to young children who would not otherwise have such opportunities.
To return to new clause 2, the proposed rolling study would in no way undermine the ban in the Bill. It does not oppose the ban in the Bill; it purely raises the question of the circumstances in which that ban should remain on the statute book if research in a few years' time shows that that ban is not having the desired effect. That is right and sensible, and I would hope that Members on both sides of the House could agree with that. The noble Lord Clement-Jones, who resurrected the Bill in another place, said:the burden of proof lies squarely on the Bill's opponents, in view of the achievable public health benefits."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 2 November 2001; Vol. 627, c. 1710.]I disagree. Surely the onus of proof is on the Govt's shoulders if they want to ban something: somebody or something is innocent until proven guilty.
I repeat that we are not arguing about the public health benefits of giving up smoking—we are all agreed on that—but about whether advertising is linked to the prevalence of smoking. The new clause does not even go the whole hog towards inserting a strict sunset measure into the Bill, which, if it came into effect, would negate the whole legislation in certain circumstances. We are not going the whole way. Instead, the new clause is a paving clause, so that the Secretary of State can be improperly informed about the effectiveness of the Act, make that research transparent and available to Parliament, and, if the research shows that there is a problem, the Secretary of State will no doubt wish to reverse the legislation of his own accord, without any prompting. That is all we are asking—we are not forcing him to terminate the legislation but making sure that that research is available to all, as, so far, we have not had definitive research that proves the link conclusively.
§ Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory (Wells)
I notice that my hon. Friend's new clause would only produce such a 42 study after three years. Is he aware that Mr. Martin Taylor carried out a report for the Treasury in the last Parliament showing the effect of the accelerated duty increases after 1997, particularly on smuggling? That report remains secret in the Treasury, although its conclusions were widely leaked. Would he consider calling for a study to be produced more quickly—perhaps immediately—before further damage is done by the growing gap between the price of tobacco in this country and on the continent?
§ Tim Loughton
My right hon. Friend makes a valid point. There is not only one influence on smoking, namely tobacco product advertising, if that is an influence. There are many other influences, of which smuggling probably is one of the biggest. Anyone who has visited schools in their constituency will be only too aware of people selling cheap cigarettes outside playgrounds, or people at car boot sales selling cheap cigarettes that have been illicitly brought into this country from the continent. That is having an enormous effect on the prevalence of smoking, which is why smoking has gone up again since 1997. If the Government published that report and did rather more to act upon what I judge to be its findings, that might contribute more to reducing smoking in this country than concentrating on this one unproven measure.
Mr. David Ruffiey (Bury St. Edmunds)
Would my hon. Friend care to speculate on the reasons why Her Majesty's Government have declined to publish in full the Taylor report?
§ Tim Loughton
I would but I fear that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, would rule me to be wayward in terms of the new clause. My hon. Friend will have ample opportunity to challenge the Chancellor on that subject when he produces his pre-Budget report in a few weeks. I urge him to do so.
I am slightly disappointed that the Government have not introduced a full sunset provision into the Bill in the first place. Certainly there are several precedents for doing so. The Government have justified their Bill not on the facts, but on two principal beliefs. The first is that the Bill will reduce tobacco consumption and the prevalence of smoking within the population by 2.5 per cent. in the long term. The second is that only a comprehensive advertising ban will be sufficient to bring about that result.
We know that the United Kingdom tobacco companies strongly contest those claims. In their view, the Bill will have perverse effects and tobacco consumption and the prevalence of smoking will be at levels higher than would otherwise be the case. However, one does not have to accept what the industry says to justify serious questioning of the Government's speculative approach to the Bill.
The Opposition are prepared to accept neither the industry's nor the Government's arguments, neither of which offers any certainty. That is why we would have preferred the Bill to be the subject of a sunset provision. Such provisions are not unheard of from the Government: indeed, they took great pains to point out that the Electronic Communications Act 2000 started 43 with such a provision. How much better it would be if that had been the case with this Bill also and the Government had provided the opportunity for voluntary and agreed self-regulation to achieve their policy objectives.
The Government's resistance to a sunset clause in the Bill is most puzzling, given that it was a manifesto pledge of the Government to review all major legislation after three years. As paragraph 3.26 of the Cabinet Office's recently published guidance for policy makers on the use of the regulatory impact assessment states:You will need to plan for this and include details of your plans in the RIA. Guidance on how to undertake these three-yearly reviews will be issued by the Cabinet Office—hence the three-year rolling research requirement in the new clause.
Earlier paragraph 2.17 of the same Cabinet Office guidance recommended the consideration of sunsettingwhere there are significant scientific uncertainties and more information might lead to a different solution.That is certainly the case with the Bill, as those uncertainties and more information may well become evident from its outcomes. Paragraph 2.18 of the guidance states that where sunsetting—a horrible word—may not be appropriate consider a review mechanism instead. The RIA should give details including whether it is to be a statutory review (for example put on the face of the legislation) or a political commitment to be done within a number of years.Our thoughts on this matter are not that far removed from those of the Cabinet Office. The only point at issue is the appropriateness of the review and of sunsetting to the Bill. We believe that it is appropriate. The Opposition's position is clear. Serious health risks have been associated with smoking. Those risks are well known and understood by smokers and the public generally. Children should not smoke and should not be allowed access to tobacco products. Adults, on the other hand, should be free to make an informed choice about whether to smoke. It is an objective of public health policy to reduce total tobacco consumption and the prevalence of smoking in the population—we all agree with that. While it is not against the law to manufacture, sell, buy or smoke tobacco products, it is appropriate that the advertising and promotion of tobacco products should be regulated.
The key questions therefore include, first, whether the Bill will reduce total tobacco consumption and the prevalence of smoking, especially among children and young people. The Government believe that such a ban could reduce tobacco consumption in the longer term by 2.5 per cent. The second question is whether the comprehensive bans are necessary and proportionate as between the public interest ends that might be served by the prohibitions imposed and the means used to achieve them. The burden of proof lies with the Government and we do not believe that they have provided definitive proof.
Numerous studies have considered whether tobacco advertising affects consumption and have considered the tobacco market after the imposition of controls or an advertising ban. Reviews of such studies in the aggregate have endeavoured to form conclusions, 44 but none of the studies has been conclusive or produced conclusions that have not been contradicted by another similar study. Importantly, a significant empirical literature finds little or no effect of tobacco advertising on smoking. None of the studies is of a nature that makes them predictive of the consequences in the UK of the kind of prohibitions that the Bill contains.
New clause 2 would provide an opportunity to fill the gap that I have just described with rolling research by a reputable and qualified body, selected by the Secretary of State. If research finds that the Act is deficient, measures could be taken.
§ Tim Loughton
We have left it described in the new clause as a "reputable and…qualified body". We are not trying to constrict the Secretary of State. New clause 2 is an innocuous measure that would ensure that research is done. I do not mean the contradictory research that has been done so far. but proper research that specifically monitors the effects of the Act on an ongoing basis. If the Secretary of State would like to suggest a firm, a body or a group of people to carry out that study, we would be interested in that. It should also be up to Parliament to decide. The findings required by the new clause should be made available to Parliament. However, nothing in the Bill requires the Secretary of State to do any further research into whether it is effective.
New clause 2 contains innocuous and helpful suggestions and I find it odd that several other hon. Members find it contentious. We all surely agree with what we are trying to achieve. The issue is the means, not the end result. I commend new clause 2 as an improvement to the Bill.
§ Mr. Hopkins
The suggestion that advertising has no effect on the amount of smoking is extraordinary. Tobacco companies cannot believe that, otherwise they would not spend countless billions of pounds across the world on tobacco advertising and they would not be so keen to avoid the Bill. New clause 2 is unnecessary, bureaucratic and, indeed, somewhat cynical.
§ Tim Loughton
Does the hon. Gentleman think that if the Government had approached tobacco companies five years ago and asked for a voluntary ban on tobacco advertising, the companies would have acquiesced? There is evidence to suggest that that is the case.
§ Mr. Hopkins
I suspect that tobacco companies have been aware for a long time that there is a threat of a compulsory ban on advertising, and perhaps they were desperate to find a way—[HON. MEMBERS: "The middle way."] The middle way, indeed. They were desperate to find a way to avoid the Bill.
I regard the Bill as a starting point, and I would like to go rather further than the Government have gone. I hope that in time we shall go further.
§ Tim Loughton
The hon. Gentleman has not answered my question. I asked whether he thought that tobacco companies would have agreed to the proposal five years 45 ago. I think that there is strong evidence that they would have done, regardless of what might have been coming. If they had, what the Bill proposes would already be in force, and instead of the Government's several attempts to reincarnate the Bill, we would have had no tobacco advertising for the last five years.
§ Mr. Hopkins
The hon. Gentleman may say that, but I am deeply suspicious of tobacco companies, and I suspect that a voluntary ban would have been a soft option for them. They would have found a way round it, and it would have been obvious that it was their way of preventing a ban from being built into the law.
To suggest that the Bill will have no effect is an attempt to undermine its credibility. It would be simple to count the number of cigarettes consumed and the number of smokers. Some civil service office could do it every year, and if the Bill were having no effect, there might be other factors.
The hon. Gentleman rightly referred to price-cutting; clearly price is an important consideration. I would like to ensure that there is no further price-cutting. If tobacco companies want to substitute a cut in price for their spending on advertising, so as to sell more of their products, let us put up the taxes on cigarettes to fill the gap, so that the Government have a bigger tax take to help with the appalling cost of cigarette smoking to the national health service.
§ Mr. Ruffley
I am listening to the hon. Gentleman's remarks with care. Does he think that there is any argument that tobacco companies may advertise, not necessarily to sell more cigarettes in total, but to drive down their competitors' market share? Has he not ignored that argument so far?
§ Mr. Hopkins
I am sorry, but I must say again that I am deeply suspicious of tobacco companies, and I suspect that they work in collaboration. We have heard the market share argument many times, and my belief, although I may be shot down for it, is that the whole idea of tobacco advertising is to create a culture in which tobacco usage is seen as a good thing, cosy and friendly—something that we can all do and enjoy, like many other harmless pursuits. Cigarette smoking is not harmless; it is very harmful, and we must take steps to stop it, initially by persuasion through Bills such as this.
We have talked about cigarette smoking as if it were an "informed choice". In my youth I was addicted to cigarette smoking, and I gave up 32 years ago. Smoking was not an informed choice, but an addiction. I had great difficulty in giving up, and so do most people. The whole idea of tobacco advertising is to create a world that makes smoking acceptable, colourful and part of one's identity, so that young people become addicted. Once they are hooked, they find great difficulty in giving up, as all of us who have known addicts, or who have been addicts ourselves, will know. That is the sole objective of advertising: to get people hooked. After that, the companies make their money.
46 The new clause proposes a bureaucracy to put a smokescreen round the real problem, which is to find ways—through the Bill and other measures—to reduce and eventually end all cigarette smoking.
§ Mr. Boris Johnson (Henley)
Is the ultimate tendency of the hon. Gentleman's argument to ban tobacco smoking altogether? Is that what he would like to do? Only the other day, I heard him—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst)
Order. That is inviting the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Hopkins) to go well beyond the confines of the new clause.
§ Mr. Hopkins
Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
I have every confidence that in the end people's intelligence will prevail and they will choose not to become smokers, because they will realise that it is dangerous and addictive. That is what we are trying to get across to people, but they will make a free choice.
§ Richard Ottaway (Croydon, South)
I am trying to keep within the confines of the debate. If such a group were established, it could look at the anomaly that may well arise from clause 10, which deals with the prohibition of sponsorship. Its definition of sponsorship agreements could fall foul of internal agreements within the trade, which I doubt the Bill intends. That is just the sort of issue that the group could look at, opine on, and report back on to the Minister. In the absence of such a group, how could such a flaw in the Bill be exposed?
§ 5 pm
§ Mr. Hopkins
I am sure that some of the technicalities will be addressed by my hon. Friend the Minister, but my concern is the proposal to establish a bureaucracy to look at the effects on cigarette smoking. I am surprised at Opposition Members: they constantly go on about quangos, bureaucracies and unnecessary additional bodies, yet their proposed body is completely unnecessary. It would be the simplest thing in the world to measure the number of cigarettes smoked, the amount of smoking that goes on, and the effect of an advertising ban over a particular period. However, given that cigarettes are so addictive, such impact will take time. Changing the culture of smoking that exists among many young people—sadly, it is increasing among young women—will take time. However, we have to start changing it, and this Bill constitutes a very good start.
§ Dr. Evan Harris (Oxford, West and Abingdon)
It is a long time since we considered the Bill in Committee. It was first promised in the governing party's 1997 general election manifesto, and it seems to be taking a very long time for it to reach the statute book. None the less, it is my pleasure to welcome the Minister to her relatively new position. The Committee that considered this Bill was one of the few places in which we could get away from her hyperactivity in health matters, but she is certainly welcome to join us. I also take this opportunity to pay tribute to her predecessor, the hon. Member for Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper), who did a fantastic job on this Bill in particular and who is 47 regarded as an excellent Minister. She did not deserve her fate of being moved sideways—allegedly—to the Lord Chancellor's Department.
The hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton) will be unsurprised to learn that we will not be supporting the new clause. However, because he has been very consistent in his approach to the Bill—he deserves credit for that—it is worth explaining to him why we will not support it. It is important to have an evidence-based policy, particularly given that, by curtailing the liberty to advertise, we are to some extent curtailing civil liberties. As the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Hopkins) mentioned, we should recognise that we are curtailing not the liberty to be addicted—that is a liberty not worth protecting—but to advertise, so we need to ensure a good evidence base. However, in taking issue—by arguing that one should be innocent until proven guilty—with the contention of my noble Friend Lord Clement-Jones that the burden of proof is on the tobacco industry, the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham uses the wrong analogy. To me, the evidence is clear that the tobacco industry and the associated advertising have been proven guilty. The burden of proof is on those making the appeal; they need to provide new evidence if they want to reopen the case.
§ Mr. Heathcoat-Amory
Surely the point of the new clause is to look at the whole problem. We face a fiscal problem, involving billions of pounds being lost in smuggling and cross-border shopping; a law and order problem, through the epidemic of smuggling through the white van trade; and a health problem, through the sale of smuggled cigarettes to youngsters, who take up smoking for the first time as a result. It is not just a question of advertising. This well-drafted new clause and the generality of the study are precisely concerned with looking at the whole problem, rather than pretending that an advertising ban will prove anything more than a pin-prick.
§ Dr. Harris
I accept what the right hon. Gentleman says about there being other issues of concern. I also accept that tackling them might achieve an even greater health gain than can be obtained by this measure, which I do not consider the be-all and end-all. However, I would not describe it as a pin-prick—the hundreds of lives that are reckoned to be saved are more than a pinprick. Nevertheless, the issues that he raises do exist, and I and many other hon. Members, including a couple from his own party, talked about them on Second Reading.
The only possible impact of the measure to ban advertising, according to the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham, would be price reduction in lieu of advertising. However, if anything, that would serve to undermine, or weaken the pressure for, a parallel trade in smuggled goods, so I accept the premise of the right hon. Member for Wells (Mr. HeathcoatAmory) but not his conclusions.
The burden is on the tobacco industry to demonstrate that the measure is counter-productive, if that is what it believes. That is why we do not need a Government-sponsored research programme. Research will be 48 undertaken; there will certainly be research sponsored by the tobacco industry and the tobacco advertising industry, although I would not trust it. However, the subject is one of interest and contention. There is extensive literature about the effects of advertising bans in other countries and I suspect that independent bodies will produce such research for this country.
Government-sponsored research is not necessarily best in such a highly politicised field. I am concerned about the Government's approach to their research contracts—for example, the inappropriate control that they exercise over publication dates and other matters. If possible, independent research would be best. That is another reason why the new clause is wide of the mark.
§ Dr. Andrew Murrison (Westbury)
The hon. Gentleman has partially answered my question. If he does not trust research sponsored by either the industry or the Government, what research would he trust?
§ Dr. Harris
As the hon. Gentleman pointed out, I have already answered his question. There are still some thriving academic institutions in this country—just about—and, indeed, throughout the world, which are capable of undertaking such research. I certainly should not dismiss out of hand research from any source. I merely point out that the hon. Gentleman's party would do best to promote—
§ Dr. Harris
Perhaps I could answer the hon. Gentleman's first question. His party would do better to promote the health of independent research in this country and in the wider world rather than calling for Governments of any complexion to fund research into highly politicised issues.
§ Dr. Murrison
The hon. Gentleman misconstrued my words. I was talking about sponsorship not active research. I am sure that he agrees that academic institutions can be relied on to produce objective research. Sponsorship is a separate matter.
§ Dr. Harris
I refer the hon. Gentleman to the work that has been done and the concerns that have been raised about the control of the publication and content of research sponsored by Departments. There is an extensive literature and it does not make for happy reading. I am not saying that there is necessarily a relationship with the control-freakery of the present Government, but the concerns are well established. Indeed, some more outspoken Ministers have expressed concern about the quality of research in the social field and that has given rise to anxiety about future funding in those areas.
§ Mr. Hopkins
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that only today the British Medical Association published a document entitled "Tobacco under the Microscope: The Doctors' Manifesto for Global Tobacco Control", which might relate to the objective research about which Members are asking?
§ Dr. Harris
I was a member of the BMA board of science when some of that work was being undertaken, 49 so I did not think it appropriate to blow that particular trumpet, but there are sources of sponsorship that are even more independent than Government sources for such research.
I question whether the people who argue against a ban on tobacco advertising would ever accept such findings. The history of the passage of the measure and of scientific findings about tobacco has been one of resolute refusal to accept what has clearly been shown by evidence not only about advertising but about the causation of disease by tobacco. I would have more faith that tobacco companies would accept the results of independent research if they apologised for their obstructive approach to the public acceptance of the case—clearly accepted by the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham—that tobacco smoking and addiction to tobacco is extremely damaging.
The hon. Gentleman referred to anxiety that price cutting might be used to get around a ban on advertising. That could certainly be a factor, but if we were to argue that it was of overriding importance—especially before it had even occurred—we should never have banned the advertising of things that are currently banned. Indeed, one would want there to be an advertising free-for-all on all products to ensure that prices went up on undesirable substances. If there is clear evidence that an advertising ban would reduce addiction, particularly among young people, we should do what we are doing, even if there is a risk of price cuts—although the major component of the price of tobacco is of course taxation.
The Conservatives have prayed in aid darts and snooker. I support darts and snooker having recognition as sports. They are small sports, but they should not be recognised as sports on the basis of the health impact of the exercise associated with them, as was pointed out by the hon. Member for Luton, North. Some of us feel that the definition of sport could be wider. Indeed, even Ministers share that view in relation to mind sports. All those sports would thrive better if they were not associated with the stench, literally and figuratively, of tobacco.
The hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham argued in an intervention on the hon. Member for Luton, North that, somehow, the tobacco industry might have been interested in a voluntary ban five years ago, but I am not convinced that that is the case. I should be interested to see what evidence there was for that. However, we are where we are: there has been no voluntary ban, and Bernie Ecclestone's actions in trying to get round a ban five years ago is clear evidence that few other options were on the table.
§ Mr. Hawkins
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way because he has been talking about some of the sports issues that I raised in an intervention on my hon. Friend the Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton). The hon. Gentleman talks about the embarrassment of various people in the history of the Bill, but does he agree that the greatest embarrassment must lie with the Government? They were in the extraordinary situation of accepting a huge amount of money from Mr. Ecclestone and apparently doing favours for Formula 1 and, as a result of all that being revealed, Mr. Ecclestone got his money back. So the Government hardly come to this issue without 50 embarrassment. Lucrative sports, such as Formula 1 and snooker, have a dispensation; less well-off sports, such as darts and fishing, which I mentioned, have no dispensation, so the Bill is in a mess and it needs the review that is set out in the new clause.
§ Dr. Harris
The hon. Gentleman may be seeking to lead me out of order and I do not intend to go down that path. In relation to the first part of his intervention, yes, what happened certainly embarrassed the Government, and the Government should accept that.
§ Dr. Harris
I may give way in a moment, but I want to bring my remarks to a close.
The hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham discussed other ways to achieve what he seeks to achieve. For example, he was driven to such an unusual approach by the absence of sunset provisions. I should be interested to know whether he considered proposing sunset provisions so that we could discuss them now, because the Liberal Democrats are not automatically opposed to them, although the Conservatives have opposed such provisions in the past.
I do not know what happened to new clause 1, which was an alternative to new clause 2, as it would have given the Government order-making powers of the type that I always thought those on the Conservative Front Bench sought to oppose. That would have been a worse alternative, but the new clause is pretty poor, so we shall oppose it.
§ John Robertson
I will keep my remarks fairly short because hon. Members have touched on just about everything that I wanted to say. While I was considering the new clause, I had to ask myself why a rolling study of the legislation's effects is needed, but I could not find out anything. Perhaps the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton) could answer that question, but he obviously cannot be bothered to listen to me.
I asked myself, "If tobacco advertising does not cause any deaths or harm, why should it be there; it is obviously a waste of money?" I decided to read previous speeches that other hon. Members had made, and a came across a statement that Mr. Philip Morris had made back in 1981.
He said:Today's teenager is tomorrow's potential regular customer, and the overwhelming majority of smokers first begin to smoke while in their teens. It is during the teenage years that the initial brand choice is made: At least a part of the success of Marlboro Red during its most rapid growth period was because it became the brand choice among teenagers who then stuck with it as they grew older.That was said by someone well entrenched in the tobacco industry and who has made billions of pounds from it. Advertising is there to entrap the young.
§ John Robertson
I said "Morris". The hon. Gentleman may have heard of him. He is big in the 51 Marlboro world and he is probably a personal friend—[Interruption.] I have another point to make. Why should someone who has said that he is totally against smoking want to speak on behalf of someone who has already said that his idea is to entrap young people into taking up smoking? As we know, it takes about 500,000 lives a year in this country alone.
§ Tim Loughton
I hope that the hon. Gentleman is not trying to pin that one on me. Like other Conservative Members, I have made it absolutely clear that we hate and abhor smoking and would like to do everything that we can to reduce the prevalence of smoking in this country. To be inquisitive about the measures in the Bill is not to be pro-smoking. Will the hon. Gentleman get that into his mindset before he makes any further comments?
§ John Robertson
I thank the hon. Gentleman; I obviously hit the right note—methinks the gentleman protests too much.
We must stop children becoming addicted to smoking, and the Bill's provisions are a small price to pay if they stop people making money out of smoking. The sooner we stop tobacco advertising and stop children smoking, the better.
§ Mr. Ruffley
I support new clause 2 and the trenchant comments of my hon. Friend the Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton). The clause is not about support for increased tobacco consumption. It is entirely consistent with Her Majesty's Opposition's view that we should reduce the number of deaths from tobacco smoking. It is consistent with our public health policy to make sure that tobacco consumption should not increase and with our policy that children should not smoke and should not have further access to tobacco products. It is consistent with our policy that adults should not be forced to smoke, but make an informed choice. It is consistent with our view that manufacturing cigarettes is not illegal, but that tobacco consumption and its advertising should be regulated.
The debate is about means and about creating good law. I genuinely do not believe that there is much difference between Labour and Conservative Members on the issue. The Conservative party—I make no apology for this—is a modernising and forward-looking party and, above all, a party that is interested in good law and in making bad clauses better not worse. That is the thrust behind the new clause.
§ Dr. Murrison
Does my hon. Friend agree that it is one thing making good law, but that the setting up of a body that has little prospect of showing the effects that it is intended to show is not consistent with that process?
§ Mr. Ruffley
My hon. Friend is not giving due credit to the thought behind the new clause, which is that an independent body could better judge the statistics than Ministers. They seem to be rather prejudiced on this subject. I say to my hon. Friend with the utmost humility that all we are trying to do is to improve the process. The independent body envisaged by the new clause would add to the debate and the quality of regulation rather than detract from it.
52 New clause 2 would ensure that the regime is reviewed if consumption increases, and the Government may have to introduce new legislation to extend the ban. We do not want a flawed policy: we do not want the Bill as it stands to get on the statute book, consumption to increase and the regime to continue for ever. We want to have the ability to review what is going on. That is only common sense. It is rational, reasonable and fair. We are saying, "Let's take stock in three years." That is a no-risk policy for the Government, whom I hope want good law, not bad law.
§ Bob Spink (Castle Point)
I am listening carefully. I support the Bill, which is a good piece of legislation. The problem is that it is long overdue. I am trying to grasp my hon. Friend's argument and hope that he will explain how the new clause would help us to reduce the number of young people who take up smoking at 16, 17 and 18. I cannot understand how it would deliver that result and, if it does not, I am sceptical about it.
§ Mr. Ruffley
If my hon. Friend reads the new clause carefully, he will realise that we intend to review what happens after three years. As my hon. Friend the Member for East Worthing and Shoreham said, the evidence is ambiguous. There are no obvious rights and wrongs. We are merely suggesting that we review the evidence after a period of time.
§ Mr. Ruffley
I do not want to trade anecdotes with my hon. Friend, for whom I have much respect. As my hon. Friend the Member for East Worthing and Shoreham explained, the hard statistical evidence is moderately ambiguous. All we are saying is that we should take stock by having a proper review after three years, which is reasonable and fair. It may well be that after that time has elapsed and after the statistics have been considered, the independent body reaches the same conclusion as my hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point (Bob Spink). I do not prejudge the issue; I merely support the new clause, which makes a reasonable argument for an independent body to take stock.
The Government talk, no doubt with good intentions, about reducing regulation and the burden of red tape on British industry, of which tobacco manufacturing is one part. That is a noble aim, but I fear that in too many regulations since 1997 the Government have demonstrated an unwillingness to embrace the culture of sunset clauses. My hon. Friend the Member for East Worthing and Shoreham is right to jib at the coining of the verb "to sunset" and the word "sunsetting", but the concept is valid. Many Labour Members understand its virtues. They will have seen, as I have, how the burden of justifying the continuation of new regulation in many parts of the United States is passed to the Government. A sunset clause ensures that if a regulation is no longer necessary after a specified time, it is incumbent on the Government and officials to say that the regulation is still good and should remain in place. They then have to take the time and trouble to reintroduce it.
53 We are not claiming that there should be no regulation, but that it should be reviewed sensibly. The new clause provides that if the reason for the regulation disappears, it would fall, and it would be up to the Government of the day to take the time and trouble to pass it again. The onus would be on the Government to pass red tape. The American experience supports my instincts that such a provision would mean less unnecessary red tape.
The new clause is in the tradition that I described of reviewing a policy after a time. If the reasons for the regulation no longer pertain, and if it is an unnecessary encumbrance on commerce and civil society, it should fall. The new clause merely states that the jury is out and that the policy will be examined in future. It could contribute to the greater goal that we should all share: less red tape in British government and society. I therefore strongly support the excellent reasons that my hon. Friend the Member for East Worthing and Shoreham adduced, and the thrust behind new clause 2.
§ Pete Wishart
I shall be brief. All hon. Members who served in Committee or participated on Second Reading will be familiar with the issues and arguments that have been bandied about in the past few months.
The Conservatives' position is curious. I tried to follow its logic at length in Committee and today. I have no doubt that Conservatives want to reduce smoking-related disease, ensure that young people do not begin smoking and want as many people as possible to come off cigarettes. However, they appear torn between wanting to do something positive—the Bill obviously offers an opportunity to do that—and a strange commitment to a curious form of free speech that extends only to tobacco manufacturers.
In Committee, the Conservative Members who served on it devoted their time to, in their words, "improving the legislation". They believed that the drafting was sloppy, and generously made it their mission to improve the Bill so that the Government would be spared time and expense in the courts. However, the new amendments may increase that time and expense.
New clause 2 proposes the creation ofa reputable and appropriate qualified body to carry out a rolling study".I asked the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton) who would serve on the body. I had an awful nightmare of an ad hoc committee made up of health professionals on one side and tobacco manufacturers on the other, chaired by Bernie Ecclestone.
The new clause is superfluous. We have seen the evidence from other countries and Conservative Members have considered it. In Norway, Finland, New Zealand and France, where a full tobacco advertising ban was introduced as a part of a comprehensive antismoking policy, adult consumption of cigarettes has fallen per capita between 15 per cent. and 34 per cent. The Government cautiously believe that we will reduce smoking by some 2.5 per cent. That is a modest estimate. However, if only one person gave up smoking through an advertising ban, it would be worth while. Many of us believe that there is something wrong with tobacco companies being able to advertise their poisonous product as if it were a benign household commodity.
54 At first, I was interested in the new clause because I thought that the Conservatives were being helpful and introducing a provision that would ensure that the Bill remained rigorous and that any attempts by tobacco companies to find loopholes in the measure were examined. Many studies about the tobacco industry show that it displays appalling cynicism and makes continued attempts to flout the rules. It does not care about the health and welfare of its clients and consumers, except to minimise health concerns.
Tobacco companies are getting desperate. Their marketing exercises have been cranked up in the past few months before the Bill becomes law. Direct mailing and free distributions where young people congregate have increased. I do not get out much of an evening, but when I was at the Edinburgh festival a few weeks ago, it was almost impossible to move in some pubs for representatives of tobacco companies giving out free products and exchanging them for half-empty packets to try to get young people hooked. They are shamelessly trying to get young people hooked before the Bill becomes law.
§ Mr. Hopkins
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that such actions are not too distant from those of heroin peddlers who try to get people addicted? They often target the mentally ill. Perhaps tobacco manufacturers do not see themselves in that light, but there is a parallel.
§ Pete Wishart
I certainly agree with the hon. Gentleman; he makes a very good point. Tobacco companies sending their representatives into pubs where young people congregate constitutes a shameless attempt to flaunt their product, and I am thankful that the Bill will now become law and that that practice will come to an end. That cannot happen a day too soon.
The Conservatives see the new clause as a means of considering the deficiencies of the Bill. They could have used it as a useful way of looking at the progress of the legislation and of ensuring that it remained rigorous. The only thing that seems to concern them in the new clause is the market shares of the different participants in the tobacco industry. I have to say that I could not give a fig about the market shares of those participants; I hope that they fall into ruin and are unable to peddle their poisonous products any longer. I am concerned only about how they might try to get round the legislation and exploit potential loopholes that might be uncovered.
There should be a rolling study of the Bill, when it becomes an Act, but it should he carried out in conjunction with tackling the environment in which so many young people are becoming hooked on smoking. I also agree with the comment made earlier that this should be seen as part of a process and not just a one-off event. We have to try to challenge the culture that exists among young people between the ages of 12 and 17. That is the real danger period for young people who become hooked on cigarettes. This is perhaps even more important now, in the light of the recent evidence showing an increased prevalence of breast cancer among women who smoked as girls.
The tobacco industry will try to circumvent this new legislation. When they are losing hundreds of smokers a day, they need new recruits and they will attempt to find 55 them. We must remain vigilant and, if necessary, revisit the legislation if loopholes appear, but not under the arrangements proposed in the new clause. I therefore urge hon. Members to vote against it.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Ms Hazel Blears)
This is my first opportunity to participate in proceedings on the Bill, and I am delighted to be able to do so. I pay tribute to my predecessor as Minister of Public Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper), for the way in which she steered the Bill through Committee. She did an incredible amount of preparatory work for it, and I hope that we shall finally get a result today.
I have some sympathy with the motivation behind new clause 2. We shall certainly not be able to sit back when the Bill is on the statute book. As the hon. Member for North Tayside (Pete Wishart) has just pointed out, tobacco companies may invest considerable resources and ingenuity in trying to redirect some of the £130 million that they spend every year on advertising their products in this country.
I support evidence-based policy making, but it is odd to put such a commitment to evaluation in a Bill as a statutory obligation. That is simply not necessary. The Government can already commission such studies, and to put that requirement into legislation would reduce their flexibility over what they might cover and how often they were done. I think that it was the hon. Member for Southport (Dr. Pugh) who pointed out that such evidence and research is highly complex and difficult to obtain. We are not simply dealing with quantifiable research: this is about behaviour change.
§ Richard Ottaway
In my intervention on the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Hopkins), I brought up the weakness in clause 10, which relates to sponsorship agreements and is vague, woolly, ambiguous and unclear. How is that sort of thing going to be flushed out? Surely a body such as that we propose would flush the problems out and bring them into the open.
§ Ms Blears
I do not accept that the provisions on sponsorship are woolly or ambiguous. We have the provisions in the Bill and we are also consulting—as I speak—on the sponsorship transitional provisions. I think that they are extremely clear, and I commend the consultation document to the hon. Gentleman, if he has not already read it.
§ Richard Ottaway
If the Minister is saying that the provisions are clear and unambiguous, will she tell me whether they apply to sponsorship agreements within the trade between suppliers and retailers?
§ Ms Blears
It is not woolly. I am saying to the hon. Gentleman that whether the agreements are caught by 56 the legislation will depend on whether they fall within the definition in the Bill and the regulations. He knows that it is part of the normal course of legislation that we define something, and whether it falls within that definition is a matter for the legislation and, ultimately, the courts.
I know that, in some countries, wholesalers pay retailers to ensure that products are displayed prominently, perhaps even above those of their rivals in certain circumstances. If that were a sponsorship agreement in that the effect was to promote a tobacco product, it might well fall foul of the sponsorship provisions. The sponsorship provisions are clear. I do not think that they are woolly. If the effect is that companies are paying to promote tobacco products to the public, we will want to prohibit that. If such agreements fall into that category, we will prohibit them.
We have reserve powers in the Bill to introduce regulations on display. We went into that at great length in Committee. If a display is abused to a point at which it becomes an overt representation of the goods, we may have to use such powers.
Subsection (2) of the new clause suggests that there should be an annual report. If that requirement were in the Bill, however, it might become burdensome after 10 years. We might have conclusive results during that period. We need flexibility, not simply to respond to the ban and to ensure that the right sort of research is taking place, but so that we can respond to new needs for research in other areas as they arise. Much of the legislation has been framed to ensure that it is fluid enough to react to developments as they happen. The history of the action of tobacco companies shows that they are ingenious in finding other ways of promoting their product, so it is important for us to have flexibility in relation to research as well as in relation to the statutory provisions that are in place.
§ Mr. Adrian Flook (Taunton)
The Minister spoke at length about promotion of products by tobacco companies. What would happen if a tobacco company demoted a competitor's product?
§ Ms Blears
That argument too was considered in Committee—an arcane one, I feel. We discussed what would happen if advertising dissed other companies' products, as happens sometimes in America. "Diss" is an advertising term meaning to have a go at a competitor's product. If a company said that another company's cornflakes were not as good as its own, would that have the effect of promoting the product? It would be a question of interpretation. If an advertisement had the effect of promoting a tobacco product, it would clearly fall foul of the prohibition. If it did not have that effect, it would not be caught by the prohibition.
I suspect that the Opposition Members who tabled the new clause were being disingenuous. I suspect that they tabled it because they were doubtful about the effectiveness of an advertising ban in helping to reduce consumption. We have discussed that before, at great length, but I am happy to repeat the reasons for our belief that the weight of the evidence suggests a link between an advertising ban and reduced tobacco 57 consumption, and also a link between the promotion of cigarettes and the decision of young people to start smoking.
The Smee report, produced by the Department of Health's chief economic adviser in 1992 at the request of the last Government, contained important research. It analysed existing evidence of the effect of tobacco advertising on tobacco consumption. Smee reviewed 19 studies, mainly from the United Kingdom and the United States, most of which analysed the effect of year-to-year fluctuations in advertising expenditure within countries. The report concluded:The preponderance of positive results does indicate that advertising has a positive effect on consumption".Smee went on to consider countries that had introduced comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising. The most significant were Norway and Finland, where bans had been in place for more than a decade. He also considered Canada and New Zealand, where there had been more recent bans. He acknowledged the complications of such studies, the main one being that advertising bans were often introduced in conjunction with other tobacco control measures, but 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".Other work has reached similar conclusions. A 1999 report from the World Bank, "Curbing the Epidemic", said:policymakers who are interested in controlling tobacco need to know whether cigarette advertising and promotion affect consumption. The answer is that they almost certainly do, although the data are not straightforward. The key conclusion is that bans on advertising and promotion prove effective, but only if they are comprehensive, covering all media and all uses of brand names and logos.The World Bank suggests that implementation of the EU directive could have reduced cigarette consumption in the European Union by almost 7 per cent. The right hon. Member for Wells (Mr. Heathcoat-Amory) referred to the advertising ban as a pinprick. I do not consider the possibility of saving up to 3,000 lives a year a minor effect.
Other evidence comes from the American researchers Saffer and Chaloupka, who studied data from 22 countries and concluded:tobacco advertising increases tobacco consumption. The empirical research also shows that comprehensive advertising bans can reduce tobacco consumption, but that a limited set of advertising bans will have little or no effect. A limited set of advertising bans will not reduce the total level of advertising expenditure but will simply result in substitution to the remaining non-banned media. When more of the remaining media are eliminated, the options for substitution are also eliminated.On the effect of tobacco advertising on children, university of Manchester researchers in the mid-1990s found:Awareness of certain brands of cigarette was linked to an increased risk of onset of smoking in 11–13 year olds, especially girls. Awareness of the most advertised brands was a strong predictor of smoking, while awareness of other brands, probably known from other sources, was a less likely predictor. Children appear to take in the messages of cigarette advertising and interpret them as generic to smoking rather than brand specific.58 A study of adolescents in California between 1993 and 1996 foundclear evidence that tobacco industry advertising and promotional activities can influence non-susceptible never smokers to start the process of becoming addicted to cigarettes.We do not claim that advertising is the only, or even the most significant, factor in the decisions of young people to start smoking, but it is an important one. As a result, we believe that there is clear evidence of a link between tobacco consumption and advertising, and that public health will benefit from a comprehensive ban as proposed in the Bill.
§ David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire)
Would my hon. Friend care to extend the social groups on which tobacco advertising has an impact from the young to those in manual occupations? The evidence shows that the highest levels of tobacco advertising are in areas of low income and high unemployment. The fact that 34 per cent. of men and 29 per cent. of women in manual occupations, compared with 23 per cent. of men and 22 per cent. women in non-manual occupations, continue to smoke shows that the tobacco companies recognise that their advertising reinforces the commitment to smoking.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. Before the Minister replies, I hope that she will not be too tempted by the remarks of the hon. Member for North-West Leicestershire (David Taylor). I remind her that she is replying to a debate on new clause 2, and I hope that she does not anticipate the speech that she may like to make if she catches my eye on Third Reading.
§ Ms Blears
Certainly not, Mr. Deputy Speaker. My hon. Friend made an important point, and I am sure that we shall return to it.
Quantification of the effects of a ban is not an exact science, but I think that we are about right in estimating that the provisions of the Bill could lead to a 2.5 per cent. reduction in smoking prevalence. We will keep the legislation under review in case circumstances change, just as we do for all legislation, but it is not necessary to prescribe that in the Bill.
I want to deal briefly with the issue raised by the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton). He referred to the sunset clause in the Electronic Communications Act 2000. The circumstances of this Bill are entirely different from those in that Act. The sunset clause in part I of the 2000 Act relates to the registering of providers of cryptography and confidentiality services. It provides that, while there is a voluntary agreement that is working well and fulfilling the Government's objectives, there is no need for the legislative provisions in part I. The key point is whether the voluntary code is fulfilling the Government's objectives. I draw to his attention the comments of Joy de Bayer, the tobacco control co-ordinator at the World Bank, who said:We know what works and what doesn't. Voluntary codes have proved to be a failure. A World Bank—WHO study…found that interventions like comprehensive advertisement bans and price increases have a measurable and sustained impact on decreased tobacco use.
§ Tim Loughton
In that case, can the Minister explain how the United Kingdom produced one of the largest falls in the prevalence of smoking up till 1997 in the context of only a voluntary ban?
§ Ms Blears
Again, a combination of factors is involved: price increases, fiscal measures and health promotion measures. All were no doubt instrumental in achieving the dramatic reduction in smoking, which I hope that we all welcome. The hon. Gentleman is as aware as I am of the fact that that reduction flattened out in the 1990s and that, therefore, there is a need—
§ Ms Blears
Exactly. The hon. Gentleman makes my point for me. There is a need to take firmer and more stringent measures, because voluntary codes simply do not work. That is why this situation is different from that involving the 2000 Act.
We shall, of course, continue to commission research on smoking prevalence. That is one of the Government's top priorities in improving public health. I therefore ask the House to reject the new clause.
§ Tim Loughton
First, I welcome the Minister, luckily for her late in the day, to consideration of the legislation, which has been round the houses many, many times. Many of us have spent much time examining it in Committee.
I was optimistic when the Minister began by saying that she had some sympathy with our motives, but she subsequently lost that sympathy and, predictably, her comments were rather one-sided. Of course she referred to certain reports, but she did not mention the KPMG report and a host of others that counter much of the so-called evidence that she produced. Of course the fall in the prevalence of smoking—such a success up to 1997—is down to a combination of factors, but the situation has worsened since then.
That worsening is largely down to smuggling, as my hon. Friends have said, but that does not counter the argument as to why the Government did not go back to the industry to try to negotiate a much tougher voluntary agreement. That was never tried, so the Minister should not say that it would not have worked—the Government did not even bother. If a voluntary agreement had worked, we would not need the Bill now, because an advertising ban would have been introduced voluntarily five years ago. That is an important point.
The Minister made an interesting comment in response to the accurate observation of my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South (Richard Ottaway) that a lot of the Bill is woolly. Clause 10, if it is not woolly, is certainly slightly shaggy, as it is open to all sorts of interpretation, which, I am afraid, she and her hon. Friends seem content to leave up to the courts. I am disappointed that the debate has again been sidetracked by the red herrings involving the horrors of breast and lung cancer. We all agree that smoking kills and that it does terrible things to our bodies, which we do not want to happen, but those are not the points at issue.
We have heard some interesting contributions, but the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Hopkins) was again unable to answer my point about the success of the voluntary ban. He wants more extreme measures, including banning price-cutting. The obvious implication of that, I am afraid, disappointing though it 60 might be, is that he wants the Government to put up tax. The obvious implication of that would be yet more smuggling and yet more cheap fags being sold outside school playgrounds. We cannot have such a wish list and say, "It is going to happen."
§ Tim Loughton
I will continue, but I shall mention the hon. Gentleman in a moment.
The hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Dr. Harris), in wholly typical form, spoke in support of the intentions behind the new clause and then, as he did at every instance on those few occasions when he turned up in Committee, said he would vote against. He then made the bizarre suggestion that we should rely on research from the tobacco industry, which will no doubt be producing research along with everybody else.
The hon. Gentleman also questioned whether we have achieved a full sunset clause, which is what I want, but I had trouble getting one on the selection list. Indeed, I had trouble getting new clause 2 on the selection list, which is why it has taken a somewhat diluted form and why it would give the Secretary of State far greater flexibility. That is what the Minister is asking for.
The point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wells (Mr. Heathcoat-Amory) is right: we should not treat the banning of tobacco advertising as the panacea for the ills of smoking. It is but a component, perhaps, but that case has not been proven.
The hon. Member for Glasgow, Anniesland (John Robertson) again fell into the trap of saying that it is a cheek for anyone to go through the due processes of this place in scrutinising a Bill to make it better and force the Government to justify why they are trying to ban something. That is all we are about. It is not impertinent to want to question the mechanics of the Bill. It would be absurd to say that just because he was not in favour of capital punishment, he was in some way pro-murder. It is entirely the same absurd contention, so please can we accept that we are all anti-smoking but there are many ways of doing it and we are not convinced of the evidence? The Minister started by saying that we should deal on an evidential basis.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Ruffley) made some helpful points, not least that we do not see the downside of the new clause. which in no way undermines the ban that the Bill would bring about.
§ Mr. Bill Tynan (Hamilton, South)
If, because this new clause were accepted, someone died of, say, lung cancer or became a smoker, would that be a price worth paying?
§ Tim Loughton
One would have to prove that there was a direct link and no one has been able to prove one. Equally, if it were proven that the Act increased the prevalence of smoking because companies resorted to price-cutting and therefore young children were more susceptible and better able to get hold of cigarettes, the hon. Gentleman would be guilty of supporting a measure that had resulted in the deaths, or lung cancer, of those children. It works both ways.
61 The hon. Member for North Tayside (Pete Wishart) asked what the logic of our approach was but, more reasonably, appreciated where we are coming from and that we are all trying to achieve the same ends. The logic that we are trying to promote is that we should all have available proper research to justify the ban on an ongoing basis. The make-up of the committee is something for the Secretary of State to propose to the House and for us to scrutinise at the time.
The hon. Gentleman mentioned the successes in other countries that have instituted a ban but I repeat that the biggest fall in the prevalence of smoking in just about any European or major western country occurred in this country up to 1997, when there were voluntary agreements with the industry, rather than bans on advertising or any other particular aspect.
New clause 2 is an innocuous measure that improves the Bill and its acceptability to Conservative Members and, I hope, all reasonable people. If after three years the research shows incontrovertibly that the measures are a success and that the ban on tobacco advertising has seriously affected the prevalence of smoking and reduced it, particularly among younger people, I will be the first to hold up my hand and embrace it. We do not have to wait 10 years. As the Minister said, it might be onerous to have reviews after 10 years. In a few years, we might be able to show whether the Act and its implications had worked. That is all we are asking for, without even the compulsion of the trigger mechanism of a full sunset clause. We are not trying to undermine the ban. We are certainly not trying to promote smoking—anything but.
This is a reasonable new clause. We think that it improves the Bill, that it will be much more acceptable to everyone if the new clause were passed and that the Govt should be forced to have proper research at their fingertips, available to all of us. On that basis, I urge hon. Members to vote for it.
§ Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 120, Noes 329.64
|Division No. 324]||[5:54 pm|
|Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)||Davis, rh David (Haltemprice & Howden)|
|Ancram, rh Michael|
|Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)||Djanogly, Jonathan|
|Bacon, Richard||Duncan, Alan (Rutland & Melton)|
|Baldry, Tony||Duncan, Peter (Galloway & U Nithsdale)|
|Baron, John (Billericay)|
|Bellingham, Henry||Duncan Smith, rh Iain|
|Bercow, John||Evans, Nigel|
|Beresford, Sir Paul||Fabricant, Michael|
|Blunt, Crispin||Fallon, Michael|
|Boswell, Tim||Field, Mark (Cities of London & Westminster)|
|Browning, Mrs Angela||Flight, Howard|
|Burns, Simon||Flook, Adrian|
|Butterfill, John||Forth, rh Eric|
|Cash, William||Francois, Mark|
|Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)||Gillen, Mrs Cheryl|
|Chope, Christopher||Gray, James|
|Clappison, James||Green, Damian (Ashford)|
|Clarke, rh Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Greenway, John|
|Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey||Grieve, Dominic|
|Collins, Tim||Hague, rh William|
|Conway, Derek||Hammond, Philip|
|Cormack, Sir Patrick||Hawkins, Nick|
|Hayes, John||Randall, John|
|Heald, Oliver||Redwood, rh John|
|Heathcoat-Amory, rh David||Robathan, Andrew|
|Hendry, Charles||Robertson, Hugh (Faversham & M-Kent)|
|Hogg, rh Douglas||Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)|
|Horam, John||Rosindell, Andrew|
|Howard, rh Michael||Ruffley, David|
|Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)||Sayeed, Jonathan|
|Jack, rh Michael||Shephard, rh Mrs Gillian|
|Jackson, Robert (Wantage)||Simmonds, Mark|
|Johnson, Boris (Henley)||Simpson, Keith (M-Norfolk)|
|Key, Robert||Soames, Nicholas|
|Kirkbride, Miss Julie||Spelman, Mrs Caroline|
|Lansley, Andrew||Spicer, Sir Michael|
|Letwin, rh Oliver||Spring, Richard|
|Lewis, Dr. Julian (New F E)||Stanley, rh Sir John|
|Liddell-Grainger, Ian||Steen, Anthony|
|Lidington, David||Swire, Hugo|
|Lilley, rh Peter||Syms, Robert|
|Loughton, Tim||Tapsell, Sir Peter|
|McIntosh, Miss Anne||Taylor, John (Solihull)|
|Mackay, rh Andrew||Trend, Michael|
|Maclean, rh David||Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)|
|McLoughlin, Patrick||Tyrie, Andrew|
|Malins, Humfrey||Viggers, Peter|
|Maples, John||Waterson, Nigel|
|Maude, rh Francis||Watkinson, Angela|
|May, Mrs Theresa||Whittingdale, John|
|Moss, Malcolm||Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann|
|Norman, Archie||Willetts, David|
|O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)||Wilshire, David|
|Osborne, George (Tatton)||Winterton, Ann (Congleton)|
|Ottaway, Richard||Winterton, Sir Nicholas (Macclesfield)|
|Paice, James||Yeo, Tim|
|Pickles, Eric||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Portillo, rh Michael||Chris Grayling and|
|Prisk, Mark||Mr. Desmond Swayne|
|Ainger, Nick||Brown, rh Nicholas (Newcastle E Wallsend)|
|Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)|
|Alexander, Douglas||Brown, Russell (Dumfries)|
|Allan, Richard||Bryant, Chris|
|Allen, Graham||Buck, Ms Karen|
|Anderson, rh Donald (Swansea E)||Burden, Richard|
|Anderson, Janet (Rossendale & Darwen)||Burgon, Colin|
|Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary||Burnett, John|
|Atherton, Ms Candy||Burnham, Andy|
|Atkins, Charlotte||Burstow, Paul|
|Austin, John||Cable, Dr. Vincent|
|Bailey, Adrian||Cairns, David|
|Banks, Tony||Calton, Mrs Patsy|
|Barnes, Harry||Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)|
|Battle, John||Campbell, rh Menzies (NE Fife)|
|Bayley, Hugh||Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)|
|Beard, Nigel||Carmichael, Alistair|
|Begg, Miss Anne||Challen, Colin|
|Bell, Stuart||Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)|
|Benn, Hilary||Chaytor, David|
|Benton, Joe (Bootle)|
|Betts, Clive||Clapham, Michael|
|Blears, Ms Hazel||Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)|
|Blunkett, rh David||Clark, hon. Dr. Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)|
|Boateng, rh Paul|
|Bradley, rh Keith (Withington)||Clark, Paul (Gillingham)|
|Bradley, Peter (The wrekin)||Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Chryston)|
|Brake, Tom (Carshalton)||Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)|
|Breed, Colin||Clelland, David|
|Brennan, Kevin||Coaker, Vernon|
|Brooke, Mrs Annette L.||Coffey, Ms Ann|
|Cohen, Harry||Heppell, John|
|Coleman, Iain||Heyes, David|
|Colman, Tony||Hill, Keith|
|Connarty, Michael||Hinchliffe, David|
|Cook, Frank (Stockton N)||Hodge, Margaret|
|Cook, rh Robin (Livingston)||Hoey, Kate|
|Cooper, Yvette||Hoon, rh Geoffrey|
|Cotter, Brian||Hope, Phil|
|Cousins, Jim||Hopkins, Kelvin|
|Cranston, hon. Ross||Howarth, George (Knowsley N & Sefton E)|
|Cruddas, Jon||Hoyle, Lindsay|
|Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)||Hughes, Beverley (Stretford & Urmston)|
|Cunningham, rh Dr. Jack (Copeland)||Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)|
|Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)|
|Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)||Humble, Mrs Joan|
|Cunningham, Tony (Workington)||Hutton, rh John|
|Dalyell, Tam||Iddon, Dr. Brian|
|Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)||Illsley, Eric|
|Davidson, Ian||Irranca-Davies, Huw|
|Davies, rh Denzil (Llanelli)||Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead & Highgate)|
|Dean, Mrs Janet||Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)|
|Dhanda, Parmjit||Jamieson, David|
|Dobbin, Jim||Jenkins, Brian|
|Dobson, rh Frank||Jones, Helen (Warrington N)|
|Donohoe, Brian H.||Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)|
|Doran, Frank||Joyce, Eric|
|Doughty, Sue||Kaufman, rh Gerald|
|Dowd, Jim||Keeble, Ms Sally|
|Drown, Ms Julia||Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)|
|Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth||Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)|
|Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)|
|Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)||Keetch, Paul|
|Edwards, Huw||Kemp, Fraser|
|Efford, Clive||Kennedy, rh Charles (Ross Skye & Inverness W)|
|Ellman, Mrs Louise|
|Ennis, Jeff||Kidney, David|
|Etherington, Bill||King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)|
|Ewing, Annabelle||King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green & Bow)|
|Field, rh Frank (Birkenhead)||Kirkwood, Archy|
|Fitzpatrick, Jim||Ladyman, Dr. Stephen|
|Flint, Caroline||Lamb, Norman|
|Flynn, Paul||Laws, David|
|Follett, Barbara||Laxton, Bob|
|Foster, rh Derek (Bishop Auckland)||Lazarowicz, Mark|
|Foster, Don (Bath)||Leslie, Christopher|
|Foster, Michael (Worcester)||Levitt, Tom|
|Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings & Rye)||Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)|
|Lewis, Terry (Worsley)|
|George, rh Bruce (Walsall S)||Lloyd, Tony|
|Gerrard, Neil||Llwyd, Elfyn|
|Gibson, Dr. Ian||Love, Andrew|
|Gidley, Sandra||Lucas, Ian|
|Gilroy, Linda||Luke, Iain|
|Goggins, Paul||McAvoy, Thomas|
|Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)||McCafferty, Chris|
|Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)||McDonagh, Siobhain|
|Grogan, John||MacDonald, Calum|
|Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)||MacDougall, John|
|Hall, Patrick (Bedford)||McFall, John|
|Hamilton, David (Midlothian)||McIsaac, Shona|
|Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)||McKechin, Ann|
|Hancock, Mike||MacShane, Denis|
|Hanson, David||McWalter, Tony|
|Harris, Dr. Evan (Oxford W & Abingdon)||McWilliam, John|
|Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)||Mahon, Mrs Alice|
|Healey, John||Mallaber, Judy|
|Heath, David||Mendelson, rh Peter|
|Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)||Mann, John|
|Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)||Marris, Rob|
|Hepburn, Stephen||Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)|
|Marshall, David (Shettleston)||Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)|
|Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)||Singh, Marsha|
|Marshall-Andrews, hon. Robert||Skinner, Dennis|
|Martlew, Eric||Smith, rh Andrew (Oxford E)|
|Merron, Gillian||Smith, rh Chris (Islington S & Finsbury)|
|Michael, rh Alun|
|Miliband, David||Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)|
|Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)||Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)|
|Moffatt, Laura||Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)|
|Mole, Chris||Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns & Kincardine)|
|Moonie, Dr. Lewis|
|Moore, Michael||Soley, Clive|
|Moran, Margaret||Southworth, Helen|
|Morley, Elliot||Speller, rh John|
|Mountford, Kali||Spink, Bob|
|Mudie, George||Steinberg. Gerry|
|Mullin, Chris||Stewart, David (Inverness E & Lochaber)|
|Munn, Ms Meg|
|Naysmith, Dr Doug||Stewart, Ian (Eccles)|
|Norris, Dan||Stinchcombe, Paul|
|Oaten, Mark||Stoate, Dr. Howard|
|O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)||Stringer, Graham|
|O'Hara, Edward||Stuart, Ms Gisela|
|Olner, Bill||Stunell, Andrew|
|Organ, Diana||Tami, Mark|
|Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)||Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)|
|Owen, Albert||Taylor, David (NW Leics)|
|Palmer, Dr. Nick||Taylor, Matthew (Truro & St. Austell)|
|Pickthall, Colin||Taylor, Dr. Richard (Wyre F)|
|Pike, Peter||Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)|
|Plaskitt, James||Thomas, Gareth (Harrow W)|
|Pollard, Kerry||Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)|
|Pond, Chris||Thurso, John|
|Pope, Greg||Tipping, Paddy|
|Pound, Stephen||Touhig, Don|
|Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)||Trickett, Jon|
|Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)||Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)|
|Primarolo, rh Dawn||Turner, Neil (Wigan)|
|Prosser, Gwyn||Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)|
|Pugh, Dr. John||Tynan, Bill|
|Purchase, Ken||Vaz, Keith|
|Purnell, James||Ward, Claire|
|Quinn, Lawrie||Wareing, Robert N.|
|Rapson, Syd||Watson, Tom|
|Reed, Andy||Watts, David|
|Rendel, David||Webb, Steve|
|Robertson, Angus (Moray)||Weir, Michael|
|Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)||White, Brian|
|Whitehead, Dr. Alan|
|Robinson, Geoffrey (Coventry NW)||Wicks, Malcolm|
|Williams, rh Alan (Swansea W)|
|Rooney, Terry||Williams Mrs Betty (Conwy)|
|Ruane, Chris||Williams Hywel (Caernarfon)|
|Ruddock, Joan||Winnick, David|
|Russell, Bob (Colchester)||Wishart, Pete|
|Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)||Woolas, Phil|
|Ryan, Joan||Worthington, Tony|
|Salter, Martin||Wray, James|
|Sanders, Adrian||Wright Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)|
|Savidge, Malcolm||Wright David (Telford)|
|Sawford, Phil||Wright, Tony (Cannock)|
|Shaw, Jonathan||Younger-Ross, Richard|
|Sheridan, Jim||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Shipley, Ms Debra||Mr. Ivor Caplin and|
|Short, rh Clare||Mr. Bill Rammell|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
§ Bill reported, without amendment.
§ Order for Third Reading read.65 6.12 pm
§ Ms Blears
I beg to move. That the Bill be now read the Third time.
After that rather surprisingly swift canter through the rest of the agenda, I am delighted that, at this early stage of the evening, we have arrived at the Third Reading of what I believe to be a tremendously important, significant and, dare I say, historic Bill.
The Bill has been extensively debated in Committee; I was going to say that it was extensively debated today, but clearly that is not the case. No amendments have been made to the Bill at either stage. That is not surprising as, first, it has had the benefit of lengthy debates in another place, where several amendments were made. I pay tribute to Lord Clement-Jones for his resourcefulness in promoting the Bill there and taking it through as a private Member's Bill. Secondly, the Bill is of course largely the same measure as the Government Bill of the same name that was before the House in the previous Parliament, when it was improved in a number of ways.
It is worth repeating just what this Bill will do and why it is necessary. It will ban tobacco advertising and sponsorship in this country in order to protect public health and to protect children. Smoking eventually kills one out of every two smokers, 120,000 of our fellow citizens every year. Advertising of tobacco products promotes a deadly product. We know, too, that children tend to smoke the most heavily advertised brands. We cannot turn the clock back and legislate tobacco out of existence, even if we wanted to, but we can act to help the majority of current smokers who want to stop and, as importantly, to control the marketing of this lethal product so that fewer people take up this lethal habit in the first place.
The evidence is clear and demonstrates the importance of a ban on tobacco advertising. We have talked about the Smee report, commissioned by the Department of Health in 1992 under the previous Government, which examined international evidence from Norway, Finland, Canada and New Zealand. Smee 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".The report was commissioned by the previous Conservative Government, but we do not need to rely on it alone. The World Bank's report "Curbing the Epidemic" said:A recent study of 22 high-income countries based on data from 1970 to 1992 concluded that comprehensive bans on cigarette advertising and promotion can reduce smoking, but more limited partial bans have little or no effect.The evidence, then, is that banning tobacco advertising does reduce consumption, but only if the ban is comprehensive. That is a very important point. It explains why the Bill introduces a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising and promotion, with very limited and tightly drawn exceptions. We know that only if we introduce such a ban will we make a real impact on smoking consumption and prevalence. It has been shown in other countries that where there is a ban only on direct advertising, and not indirect advertising, the effect is lessened.
We have estimated that the impact of this ban will be to reduce smoking consumption and prevalence by around 2.5 per cent. in the longer term. Some people 66 may think this a small reward for the banning of advertising of a legal product. However, we estimate that a 2.5 per cent. reduction in consumption could, in the longer term, save 3,000 lives a year. Even in the shorter term, it could save up to 1,600 lives a year. Every single life saved means less grief, heartache and sorrow for people and families. It is a prize worth having. The Bill will make a huge contribution to creating a healthier nation.
The tobacco industry has consistently claimed that its advertising merely affects market share of different brands. I do not think that that is a credible position, and the evidence from Smee and others undermines it. The Select Committee on Health looked in detail at the industry's marketing strategies. It had access to evidence that had not previously been in the public domain, and that evidence was incredibly revealing. The former chairman of the board of the advertisers McCann-Erickson, which handled $20 million in tobacco account sales, said:The cigarette industry has been artfully maintaining that cigarette advertising has nothing to do with total sales. This is complete and utter nonsense.Those are the words of someone who was involved intimately in the advertising of tobacco products. He went on to say:I am always amused by the suggestion that advertising, a function that has been shown to increase consumption of virtually every other product, somehow miraculously fails to work for tobacco products.That illustrates the naivety and disingenuousness of those who seek to present the case that there is little evidence that an advertising ban will lead to a reduction in smoking. My hon. Friend the Member for Luton, North (Mr. Hopkins) has said that the advertising companies spend in excess of £100 million a year in this country, so they must believe that that money is well spent in terms of investing for their future profits.
The industry claims that it only wishes adults to smoke. Let me accept that claim for the sake of argument. However, the evidence is that, regardless of that avowed intention, 14 and 15-year-old children see and react to the industry's advertising just as much as 16-year-olds. An interesting exchange of views took place in the Health Select Committee, where witnesses from advertising companies gave evidence. They were pressed to explain the distinction in an advertising brief, whereby they could pitch an advert at young adults and avoid it having an effect on 14 and 15-year-old children.
Despite their valiant attempts to make that distinction to the Select Committee, the people involved in the advertising pitches and briefs—the creatives involved in drawing up advertising campaigns—were forced to admit, after being pressed intensely on the issue, that it would be difficult to provide advertisements aimed at young adults that did not also appeal to the fantasies of teenagers. Therefore, that evidence is extremely important.
Once one starts smoking, it is very hard to stop: the Royal College of Physicians' report, "Nicotine Addiction in Britain", made it clear that nicotine addiction is about as addictive as heroin and cocaine. It is therefore a very serious issue.
The Bill gives Ministers a number of regulation-making powers. That is deliberate, because we wish to ensure that we can keep up in legislative terms with any 67 developments that occur. We have said that some of those powers will be kept in reserve in case there are abuses or problems that need to be sorted out. However, we have said all along that we intend to make regulations as quickly as possible on point of sale advertising, brand sharing and transitional arrangements for sponsorship. We issued a consultation document in August and are seeking views now on the detail of those regulations. The consultation period ends on 15 November. I commend the consultation documents to hon. Members, because they go into the regulations in great depth and illustrate the Government's determination to ensure that we have good and effective regulations in that area.
We have already said that we reserve our right to bring in regulations in relation to displays of products. If we feel that manufacturers are beginning to abuse displays of products, we will not hesitate to introduce regulations to try to control that activity. I do not wish to be vindictive in pursuing the tobacco companies, but the history of the industry shows that the companies have been ingenious in finding other ways to advertise and promote tobacco products in places that have introduced restrictions. Those other methods include sponsorship and brand sharing—or brand stretching, as it is increasingly called. The debate in the other place gave some interesting examples of brand sharing. There is, for example, a Benson and Hedges bistro in Kuala Lumpur, which is there to promote the Benson and Hedges brand. Before the bistro was opened, the Benson and Hedges market share had declined dramatically. After the bistro opened, the brand's trading position was secured. The person running the bistro said that he wanted to be "smoker-friendly" and that people associated cigarettes with a cup of coffee. He said:After all, they are both drugs of a kind.I found that very revealing.
§ Mr. Hopkins
My hon. Friend points out that coffee is also a drug, but does she agree that recent evidence suggests that coffee drinking can be beneficial, unlike cigarette smoking?
§ Ms Blears
As a confirmed tea drinker, I am well aware of the health benefits of the antioxidants in tea and if coffee has similar effects, I look forward to seeing that evidence. My hon. Friend makes the serious point that tobacco is a dangerous and lethal substance that has led to the deaths of thousands of people—in fact, of millions of people worldwide.
Baroness Jay gave some interesting examples of the use of cartoon characters to promote cigarettes in the United States. Joe Camel, a character promoted in connection with Camel cigarettes, had a high recognition factor with young children. By the age of six, children recognised Joe Camel as much as they did Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck. That is very worrying in relation to the provisions on brand sharing and brand stretching.
We have also introduced consultation on the transitional arrangements for sponsorship to ensure that once advertising is outlawed the money does not go on extensive and glamorous sponsorship arrangements. 68 We want to outlaw sponsorship for all sports by 2003 and for global sports by 2006. After that date, no sponsorship will be allowed.
Some hon. Members have raised concerns about the ability of companies to continue trading in what are legal products, but the Bill does not compel people who want to carry on smoking to stop. Smokers will continue to be free to contact suppliers and request information about the products available. It would not be right to allow suppliers, even specialist tobacconists, to send out tobacco advertisements to people who had bought tobacco products from them in the past when many of those people are likely to be among the 70 per cent. of smokers who say that they want to give up. We want to ensure that those people are not bombarded with regular advertisements so that every time that they resolve to give up they are undermined by the next lot of glossy leaflets and special offers that come through the post to entice them to carry on smoking.
The issue of corporate sponsorship by tobacco companies has been raised on several occasions. The Bill does not prevent a tobacco company from giving money to support an event or activity, as long as the tobacco company's products are not given any promotion in return. If a tobacco company wishes to support the ballet, the opera or other artistic activities, it will be entitled to do so, as long as the purpose or effect is not to promote its tobacco products. It is conceivable that some advertisements linked to the corporate sponsorship of events could have the effect of promoting tobacco products even if they do not mention the name of specific products. If that does happen then the parties involved might be liable to be prosecuted under the Bill. Companies will need to be vigilant about the kind of corporate sponsorship that they undertake in the future.
It has been suggested that the Bill will impede the freedom of the tobacco industry to develop products that are less harmful to health. However, we have seen what happened in the past when people were encouraged to smoke particular brands on the basis that they were light or mild. We are supporting action to outlaw those terms, because experience has shown that they were not helpful and that the best way to confront the health risks of tobacco is to stop smoking. Descriptions such as "light" or "mild" did encourage people to take up those products. Descriptions of products as "low tar" made people think that they were safer and less harmful.
Experiments showed that if the smoke from those cigarettes was extracted by a machine, it was less harmful, but people who smoked them changed their smoking habits. They would inhale more deeply or cover up the ventilation filters on the cigarettes to ensure that they got an amount of nicotine that maintained the drug in their system at the level to which their bodies were accustomed. People might have been smoking lower tar products, but the way in which they smoked them meant that the harmful effects on their health were just as great. Indeed, the adoption of low tar products often meant that people made no effort to give up. That marketing was, therefore, more harmful than helpful.
If new tobacco products appear which are genuinely less harmful than those now available, we will consider how they should be marketed, but it would be wrong to give the tobacco industry carte blanche to market them 69 as it sees fit. We would be failing in our duty if we were to allow that, and that is why it is right that the Bill will impose a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising.
The Bill is part of our broader strategy to tackle smoking. Smoking is the biggest cause of early death in this country. It causes one in seven deaths from heart disease and 85 per cent. of deaths from lung cancer. It causes cancer of the mouth, the larynx, the oesophagus, the bladder, the kidneys, the stomach and the pancreas. It is one of the principal causes of the health gap between rich and poor. Some 120,000 of our fellow citizens die each year from smoking-related diseases. The loss and misery is shared by their loved ones. Those are needless deaths caused by an industry that hides the truth from consumers.
Tobacco is the only legal product that kills one in two people who use it. The Government are determined to tackle this epidemic. That is why we have made a commitment to reduce the number of smoking-related deaths. That is why we have introduced the best smoking cessation services in the world. And that is why we will ban tobacco advertising and promotion. I call on Members from both sides of the House to join us to support this Bill which will help to save lives.
§ Tim Loughton
I do not demur from the Minister's final comments and her grisly catalogue of horrible diseases, conditions and implications that are caused by cancers linked to smoking. I repeat that smoking is a killer and we want less of it, but that was not the point of contention between us in the Bill.
The Minister said that she was surprised to reach Third Reading a little more quickly than she had anticipated. I do not think that she should be surprised, given that new clause 2 made it clear that we were not trying to undermine the Bill or the ban that it introduces by the amendments that we have tried to make to it. We think that the Bill is flawed and that it is bad law in some cases, but we do not disagree with the wish to do anything to deter people from smoking. We are not convinced, however, that the Bill is directly linked to that end.
The Bill has been around for quite a long time. The Minister comes to it rather late in the day—some of us have been with it longer, in the previous Parliament. The Bill was lost before the last election; it was almost scuppered by the Germans over the summer but survived to come before us this evening. In fact, the Bill is before us because a private Member of the upper House reincarnated it earlier in the year, so for all the Minister's proud words, the Government are not responsible for it.
I repeat my earlier point that there is evidence to suggest that if, soon after the Government came to power in 1997, they had gone to the tobacco industry for a tougher voluntary agreement, which had been successful in reducing the prevalence of smoking until then, the Bill might not have been necessary, because tobacco advertising would have disappeared, by voluntary agreement, five years ago. The Minister cannot say otherwise and neither can other hon. Members who question that. It is a shame that we have had to go through all these processes and false dawns five years on to achieve what the Government said that they wanted to achieve in their 1997 election manifesto.
70 It is also slightly odd that only now, five and a half years on, are we in the midst of the consultation exercise on the draft regulations accompanying the Bill that I pulled off the internet. With great respect to the hon. Lady, I think that members of the Committee would have expected to be sent a copy of them when they came out in the middle of August because they were relevant to the work of the Committee and are relevant to Report and Third Reading. It is a shame that that did not happen.
We are united, on both sides of the House, in trying to achieve the same ends—to deter people from smoking and especially to deter young people from taking up a foul pursuit. We all want to improve public health; the cost of unhealthy life styles to the national health service and to us all is enormous, and that includes people who choose, against all the advice, to continue smoking.
It is rather arrogant of Labour Members to suggest that in wishing to scrutinise the Bill, Conservative Members are somehow pro-smoking. I have always approached the Bill with an open mind. I am a committed non-smoker: I have hassled my father about smoking over many decades, without success, and frown when people smoke in my presence. The Government have not had the courage of their convictions to go the whole way and ban smoking outright; indeed, I do not think that anybody would agree with that action. However, the implication of many of tonight's contributions is that smoking itself should be banned, not only the advertising of its products.
Our approach to the Bill over the weeks, months and years of our involvement has been to ask whether it will have the desired effect or be counter-productive. I repeat my comments about the measures on price competition being far more dangerous than price-cutting in inducing young people in particular to smoke. As for the loss of £130 million worth of advertising revenue, I said on Second Reading that I would be in favour of measures that obliged cigarette advertisers to cover virtually the whole billboard with grisly warnings about smoking killing and leading to long, lingering deaths, thereby leaving only a small space to advertise the product, in whatever obscure form. That would be an effective way of getting £130 million of free advertising for a health promotion campaign. There are other ways of doing it, but we need to tackle the legislation, as we have done all the way through, on the basis that, whether we like it or not, it remains legitimate and legal to smoke, produce and sell tobacco and that, however much we may hate it, many of our fellow citizens, for their own good reasons, continue to do so.
The Bill, along with other public health promotions that the Government quite rightly carry out, will not induce the tobacco manufacturers to shut up shop and go home. The Government must justify a ban by saying whether it will work in practice, whether it is watertight and whether it is fair and proportionate. For all the reports that the Minister rightly trots out, other reports contradict those findings, and they are non-conclusive. Other countries have tried tobacco advertising bans or other forms of obligatory legislation, yet smoking prevalence in the United Kingdom fell faster than in virtually every other country in the west, for a whole raft of reasons, when a voluntary agreement with the 71 industry was in place. The Government did not seek to renegotiate a voluntary agreement with the industry. Had they done so, the result might have been different.
§ Mr. Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port and Neston)
If the hon. Gentleman's argument were followed to its logical conclusion, no company would spend any of its revenue on advertising. He has outlined a set of circumstances in which the Department of Health could make gains out of tobacco advertising. Surely he must agree that advertising works, and that in these circumstances it should be banned.
§ Tim Loughton
I was simply giving an example of how such advertising could be used: we have not agreed on what effect advertising has. We covered all the schools of thought about brand switching and so on before the hon. Gentleman appeared in the Chamber. My idea was that advertising would be turned against the person paying the advertising bill in the interests of public health promotion. It might be a fanciful idea, but it was worth investigating. However, the Government chose not to follow a voluntary route and I think that they may have missed a trick.
§ Mr. Hopkins
I am interested in the hon. Gentleman's suggestion that a billboard should be used to advertise the terrible effects of smoking. If that depressed cigarette smoking and cigarette sales, would the tobacco companies carry on with it?
§ Tim Loughton
Probably not, in which case this legislation would not be necessary. We would have the desired effect and everybody would be happy. We are all trying to achieve the same thing.
Passing the Bill without definitive evidence requires a leap of faith. The regulatory impact assessment gives a fairly wide spread of 0 per cent. to 5 per cent. as the likely reduction in smoking that such a ban will bring about, and the Government have plumped for the mid-range figure of 2.5 per cent. As one of my hon. Friends said earlier, that is fairly woolly science. The Conservatives are far more concerned about the many other practical measures that the Government should pursue far more aggressively, and give greater priority than this one piece of legislation.
The prevalence of smuggling is probably the single largest factor that has led to the increase in smoking over the past five years. The Government need to tackle that more seriously. They should clamp down with more vigour on the illicit selling of bootleg cigarettes in the vicinity of school playgrounds. Flogging bootleg cigarettes from car boots should be better policed. I would conjecture that a combination of such measures could be more effective in decreasing smoking, especially among young people, than the Bill will be.
The Government could also tackle the influence of product placement. We have all seen the weekend report that the cast of "EastEnders" and "Coronation Street" are more widely recognised than most members of the Cabinet. Soaps, like the rest of television and the media, have an enormous influence on people's observations 72 and habits, yet time and again we see brands of alcohol and cigarettes appearing in socially acceptable scenes. What are the Government doing about that?
§ Judy Mallaber (Amber Valley)
I am slightly puzzled. Does the hon. Gentleman accept that the logic of his argument is that advertising does work? If showing a brand of alcohol or cigarettes on a soap affects people, that means that it is an effective form of advertising. Has he not proved that advertising works?
§ Tim Loughton
If that were the case, according to the hon. Lady's logic, the tobacco companies would not have to pay for any of their advertising. My point was that having famous actors smoke cigarettes in a socially acceptable context is harmful and has an effect on people who want to emulate those in virtual reality television shows.
§ Pete Wishart
I agree with the hon. Gentleman; we are all aware of the dangers of product placement—but would it not have been more helpful if he and his colleagues had tabled some amendments to combat product placement, rather than making innocuous suggestions?
§ Tim Loughton
I am talking about a far greater issue than simply amending the Bill. Of course, when cigarettes appear in soaps there are no health warnings, whereas adverts and close-ups of the products, have severe health warnings attached. That is another difference.
We all agree that those things are not helpful. The Government could be examining them more closely, yet they are considering, almost exclusively, the banning of tobacco advertising as the panacea to reduce smoking.
As many of us said earlier in the passage of the Bill, another aspect that the Government could be tackling is the European Union's continuing subsidising of tobacco production by some £600 million a year. When we, rightly, are taking all the public health promotion measures that we can to reduce smoking, it is nonsense that as taxpayers we are still subsidising the tobacco farmers in southern Europe who produce the vile weed, to the tune of £600 million a year. The Bill would have greater credibility if the Government were taking that problem more seriously and pursuing it more vigorously.
In passing the Bill we are taking a large leap of faith. We chose to scrutinise it in Committee as fully as we could in the time available, which was not nearly long enough. We were contemptuously questioned about why we had to go through the "rigmarole" of scrutinising the Bill, although on our side of the Standing Committee there were completely new Members, who had not been involved with the legislation when it was scrutinised previously in the House of Lords and in this House.
We scrutinised the Bill in Committee without any help from the Liberal Democrats, who followed the Government hook, line and sinker, and tabled no amendments. On their rare appearances, they always voted with the Government.
73 Ministers in this House have resisted any attempt to amend the Bill, despite the fact that it had wider implications than those for tobacco products.
§ Sandra Gidley (Romsey)
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that as the Bill was introduced by Lord Clement-Jones and we felt that he had got it about right, there was no need for us to table a vast number of amendments, especially as the Bill had already had a Committee stage in this House, albeit in another Parliament?
§ Tim Loughton
The hon. Lady says that she did not feel the need to table a vast number of amendments; in fact she did not table a single amendment in the entire Committee stage, and on her rare appearances she seemed content blindly to accept the Government line. I had not realised that Lord Clement-Jones had achieved such godlike status.
Of course there are things in the Bill that need to be questioned. That is why we spent a long time in Committee raising questions, many of which were not properly answered. That is what a Committee stage is all about. I fear that there are still many unanswered questions, as the questions that my hon. Friends and I asked were all greeted with a look of glazed indifference by the former Minister responsible, the hon. Member for Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper), who is now the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, but who is still here today. She seemed to think that it was a cheek for anybody to be going through the proper parliamentary processes of scrutinising the Bill and daring to find fault with it—but find fault with it we did, and she gave only a few assurances in response.
The catch-all response, which made us most sceptical, was that it was up to the courts to decide on the definitions and interpretations in the Bill. Apparently, it was not for us to define what the law was about; we were to leave it to the courts, for lots of lawyers to argue about among themselves. That is surely unsatisfactory. The House should legislate to provide a high degree of certainty, so that people know precisely where they stand and do not have to rely on courts, long drawn-out legal processes and highly paid lawyers. With this Bill, that has not been the case.
I shall concentrate on the terms of the Bill rather than the horrors of what smoking does; we all agree about that, and we can bank it. However, in the context of clause 1, we did not resolve in Committee the definition of what constitutes an advertisement. I appreciate the spirit of that part of the Bill, but at the end of our deliberations it was still not clear whether an advertisement included the tobacco product itself, its packaging, invoices and letterheads relating to the selling of the product, business signs used inside premises, or the effects of brand sharing, Dunhill shops and so on.
The Minister went to some lengths to avoid such questions, saying that she did not want to open loopholes. However, she was unable to define what some of those loopholes were, despite the fact that previous legislation, such as the Consumer Credit Act 1974, the Medicines Act 1968 and the Gaming Act 1968, contains proper enforceable definitions of what constitutes an advertisement.
74 Will the Bill cover smoking avoidance products? It would be nonsense if it did, but no clear assurance was given that the various nicotine substitute products that help to wean people off tobacco would not fall foul of it.
There were many unanswered questions about the impact on internet communications about tobacco products, which are beyond the reach of UK legislation. Questions about unwitting printers and publishers of magazines and newspapers in which tobacco advertisements appear were also unanswered. There was a fine line with regard to trade publications, whether they were available to the public through subscription or off the shelf, and whether they fell foul of the provisions. Under the Bill, will shareholders in tobacco companies still be able to get information about the advertising campaigns for products promoted by the companies in which they have invested?
Also questioned was the role of specialist tobacco businesses—legitimate businesses with clearly targeted ranges of specialist adult clients that play no role in encouraging children to take up smoking, but which could be seriously curtailed. There are also serious implications for in-flight magazines and airlines that earn revenue from legitimate duty-free sales—a point understandably made by my hon. Friend the Member for Spelthorne (Mr. Wilshire), whose constituency includes Heathrow airport.
We welcomed clause 17, which reversed earlier changes to the burden of proof defence, a principle that was debated in the upper House. We did not get satisfactory answers, however, to clause 7—the Henry VIII clause—under which the Secretary of State can change virtually anything in the legislation under the guise of technological advances. We then came, of course, to the thorny issue of sponsorship and the very special treatment meted out to tobacco company sponsorship of Formula 1 racing—a leading player that bunged the Labour party £1 million. Coincidentally, it found itself the beneficiary of special treatment.
§ Tim Loughton
It may well be ancient, but it is highly relevant to legislation that still has not gone through, until we approve it—or not—this evening. Extraordinarily, the Minister declined to support the helpful amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Spelthorne, which would have avoided all hint of accusations of double standards by not extending special exemptions to groups that have made political donations in the previous 10 years. Not surprisingly, that was another case of the Liberal Democrat health spokesman, the hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Dr. Harris) —he is no longer here—praising the amendment and the spirit of it, and then voting against it. Again, the amendment was a legitimate attempt to reduce the Bill's vulnerability to further allegations of sleaze by the Government or any other party.
We were dealing with clause 20 and the effect on world professional darts and other global sports, when we were cut off in mid-flow. Unlike Formula 1, such sports are not flush with cash. They may not seem the healthiest of pursuits, but they are worthwhile as they 75 encourage young people to take up activities that are much more positive than some others that they might get up to.
We also had a problem with the guillotine in Committee—we should have properly scrutinised the clauses, but we were unable to do so because we were limited to just five sittings. As a result, many clauses were not debated. However, we did not pursue that point this evening. In the interests of pushing the Bill on, we were happy not to table further amendments. In the spirit of seeing this Bill through, we were prepared not to revisit those clauses and to concentrate instead on a paving provision for a sunset consideration. That would have required the Government to keep up to date with research on the legislation's impact, and to change it accordingly if it had no effect, or a detrimental effect. It is a shame that the Government were not prepared to accept that new clause.
We all want the same end. We all hate smoking and we all want to deter it wherever possible.
§ Bob Spink
My hon. Friend is treating the House to an extraordinarily eloquent summary of the issues surrounding the Bill, and I am very grateful to him. However, I wonder if I could tempt him to explore an issue on which he has yet to pontificate: the negative publicity that one company might dish against another. Will the Bill deal with that satisfactorily, or will we need to reconsider it at some stage? Will that issue provide the lawyers with a great deal of work and money in future?
§ Tim Loughton
The hon. Gentleman suggests that I am a lawyer but I never have been and I never will be. My hon. Friend has picked up the lingo sharpish. He uses a technical term—to "diss"—that was used by the Minister, the meaning of which had to be explained. The use of that phrase was as offensive as my use of sunsetise, so we are both guilty in that regard. His question is one for the Minister to answer, not me, and she will doubtless deal with it at the end of the debate.
As I said, we all want the same end. I hope that the Government will keep closely under review the implications and effects of this legislation—if it is enacted—and not just treat it as a box to tick, saying, "We've banned tobacco advertising, we've done the stuff against smoking—that's it." There is much more to it, as the Minister said. We have serious reservations, as we made clear throughout Committee stage. Parts of the Bill are bad law, but it has been much more closely scrutinised than a lot of other legislation, and we are prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt. As such, we will not oppose Third Reading.
§ Mr. Hopkins
I wish that the Bill had been enacted years earlier, but it is welcome even at this stage. It is a necessary measure to reduce smoking and the prevalence of the terrible diseases that smoking causes, but it is not sufficient in itself. We have to go much further in reducing smoking and avoiding the terrible health damage that it causes. In particular, we must try 76 to persuade young people not to take up smoking. As I said and as we all appreciate, it is extremely addictive. My hon. Friend the Minister suggested that it is as addictive as certain of the hard drugs that are currently illegal, and I am sure that that is true. I remember the terrible struggle that I had when I gave up smoking all those years ago. I smoked considerably, and giving up was that hard that it took 10 or 11 weeks before I stopped dreaming about cigarettes. Fortunately, I managed to overcome it in a "cold turkey" manner—I believe that that is the terminology used in these circles; it is not a phrase I use frequently—and came greatly to dislike smoking. I do feel, however, for those who continue to smoke. They are clearly still addicted, and many of them desperately want to give up.
I believe that tobacco advertising that is associated with pleasurable events such as sporting fixtures, and which makes use of nice settings, does not help people to give up smoking. It gives them a degree of comfort, and a warm feeling about this dreadful habit. We have done the right thing in moving toward banning such advertising. The hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton) argues that we should somehow establish a voluntary ban. That is fine if it works, but why oppose a compulsory ban if we do not have a voluntary one? If a compulsory ban would not have any effect, why would a voluntary one be necessary? Any economist would say that advertising is a clear attempt to induce people to purchase and use a product. If one takes away that inducement, less of it will be purchased and consumed. That is what the Bill is about—reducing the attractions of smoking, and changing its image.
We must address the culture of smoking. We live in a society that, historically, has smoked for a long time—since Sir Walter Raleigh brought tobacco back from America. In doing so, he did not do us any favours, but I suppose that its discovery was inevitable at some point. It is still a fact that, among young people, smoking is seen as adult and attractive. It provides an image, and it is that image that we must dent somehow. The Bill will help take us further along that route. Certainly, in the circles in which I mix, smoking is not fashionable these days; indeed, it is very unfashionable. A small number of people do smoke—some members of my family do so—but they know that it is not fashionable. However, they are addicted, and they have to leave the building and stand outside the back door—even if it is someone's home—in order to smoke. That is very embarrassing, but it is right for us to try to change the culture so that we make people feel that smoking is bad not only for them but for everyone and that they should try their best to give it up.
One of the attractions of giving up smoking is financial, although I accept that that point has nothing to do with the Bill. Since I gave up, I have not spent on smoking about £75,000—a substantial sum. Unfortunately, I do not have it to hand. From time to time, I advocate the benefits of giving up smoking and I find that health arguments are not as persuasive with young people. They think that lung cancer might not affect them in early life and that later on they would die anyway, but the financial arguments are often persuasive, especially to those who are not well-off: £75,000 sounds like a great deal of money to a young 77 person, whereas the possibility of being ill when one is 40, 50 or 60 is not as convincing. so I use the financial argument frequently.
The hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham referred to price-cutting. I hope to persuade my hon. Friend the Minister to consider that point because price-cutting is a real risk. If tobacco manufacturers are banned from advertising, they will spend less on their products so they will have extra income and could, conceivably, reduce their prices while making the same amount of profit. They might even increase their profits because they might induce more people to smoke; clearly, there is a demand curve. In addition, existing smokers might smoke even more. Will my hon. Friend have a word with our right hon. Friend the Chancellor and point out that one way of overcoming that problem would be for him to raise the tax by the same amount as the reduction in the costs of cigarette advertising? For example, if that reduction amounted to 10 per cent. of the price, the tax should be raised by 10 per cent. The price to the consumer would not change, but the take for the Chancellor would increase. That would be a sensible approach and I can see no arguments against it, although smokers and tobacco manufacturers would probably not be terribly keen on it. However, such a measure would certainly help to finance the health service and to deal with some of the problems caused by smoking.
The hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham also mentioned smuggling. I strongly agree that it is a serious issue. It is distressing that, recently, there has been pressure on Customs and Excise to be less fierce with people who smuggle alcohol and cigarettes into the country. I should like a stronger regime, with lower limits on the number of cigarettes one can legitimately bring in; much fiercer regulation of sales of imported tobacco products; higher penalties and much more rigorous investigation. For example, I understand that ice-cream salespeople, driving around with their bells and their jingles, frequently sell rolling tobacco and cigarettes under the counter.
§ Mr. Hopkins
We all know that my hon. Friend is a smoker, so I shall certainly give him what information I have.
Obviously, ice-cream causes no harm and we can all enjoy it.
§ Mr. Hopkins
I do not care for ice-cream, but that is not the point. Selling illicit, cheap, imported tobacco or cigarettes, especially to the less well-off, is not acceptable and could easily be effectively policed.
Some corner shops sell such illicit tobacco products and they, too, could be policed easily. If there were serious penalties, the practice would be stopped. At the same time, we must police our borders, which is much easier for us as an island than if we had land boundaries. We should address smuggling; it is a serious problem. Cigarettes and tobacco products are easier to smuggle than alcohol because they are so small and light, but we should take steps to stop, or at least severely reduce, smuggling.
78 When my predecessor as Member of Parliament for Luton, North-John Carlisle—left this place, he took up employment in the tobacco industry and, for a salary several times larger than that of a Member of Parliament, speaks for the industry on television programmes such as "Newsnight". He has done extremely well out of the tobacco industry.
§ Mr. Hopkins
In that sense my predecessor is altruistic, because he is advocating something that he does not do himself. He advertises the pleasures of smoking without actually being a smoker, although there are of course financial inducements. I digress, however, Madam Deputy Speaker, and I will not test you further.
It is significant, however, that the tobacco companies found it useful to employ an extremely articulate former parliamentarian to speak on their behalf, to promote their products and the idea that smoking is fine.
§ Mr. Martin Salter (Reading, West)
Does my hon. Friend agree that even more pernicious than the employment of ex-Members of Parliament, whether or not they smoke and whatever their salary, is the way that tobacco companies have permeated sports sponsorship? It will be a Herculean task for many sports to wean themselves from their dependency on tobacco advertising. Will my hon. Friend and my hon. Friend the Minister bear in mind the problems for my sport—angling—due to its sponsorship by Embassy? The company is currently sponsoring the Embassy pairs final. All the qualifying heats are due to be completed by May 2003 for an event that will take place in Spain the following year. However, the event may fall foul of the regulations as currently drafted. Has my hon. Friend given any consideration to the introduction of the regulations?
§ Mr. Hopkins
I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention although I have no immediate answer to his difficulty. I appreciate the problem: regrettably, sports have learned to depend on tobacco producers for sponsorship and will have to look elsewhere. One hopes that they are successful. However, that is not an argument for sustaining such sponsorship for longer than necessary. When the Bill is enacted, one hopes that it will disappear quickly.
Branding is extremely powerful. The mere use of a colour, with no reference to cigarettes, is enough to make people think of Benson and Hedges, John Player or Silk Cut. When I was a young person—some years ago—and a smoker, we all favoured our own brand; one's identity was bound up with the cigarettes one smoked—
§ Mr. Hopkins
It may seem humorous now, but we were all addicted to cigarette smoking.
79 One or two of my friends were Francophiles and chose to smoke Gauloises or Gitanes. Others liked king-size cigarettes—as my hon. Friend pointed out. I mixed with amateur jazz musicians and in those circles it was fashionable to smoke roll-up cigarettes—
§ Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal)
Order. The hon. Gentleman really should confine his remarks to Third Reading.
§ Mr. Hopkins
Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I shall move to a conclusion.
I wanted to emphasise that branding and personal identity are very powerful indeed—the idea that "I'm a Park Drive man" and so on. We must address that issue because brands will continue, even without advertising. I am not suggesting that all cigarettes should be sold in brown paper packets, numbered "1", "2" or "3". Nevertheless, we must deal with branding because I am sure that tobacco companies will persist in trying to reinforce our loyalty to cigarette smoking and to particular brands by every subtle means at their disposal, so we have to look beyond the Bill to further measures.
I shall end my speech very soon, as I have made my points, but I want to make a final point, which I made in Committee as well: alcohol is very different from cigarettes, although there are some similarities. Alcohol is not addictive for most people, and most people drink it in moderation. Indeed, some people consider that it is healthy in small quantities. However, one cigarette is bad; 100 cigarettes are 100 times worse. All cigarettes are bad. They are fairly quickly addictive, and most people who smoke are addicted, which is not true of people who consume alcohol. So I emphasise the difference between cigarettes and alcohol, although, in time, we must address the problems of alcohol, too.
Finally, I thank the House for giving me this opportunity to speak, and I congratulate my hon. Friend the Minister on picking up the reins so effectively and skilfully on the Bill at a late stage.
§ Sandra Gidley
I am here tonight as a substitute in many ways for my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Dr. Harris); it is his birthday, so I thought it would be useful to let him have the chance to get away.
As has been said by the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton), apart from a passing interest, I have had little involvement in the Bill this time round, but I served on the Committee that considered the Bill when it was first introduced during the previous Parliament. I should like to pay tribute to the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, the hon. Member for Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper), who was here earlier this evening, for displaying a strong commitment to the previous Bill, and she has since publicly expressed her disappointment that it was not included in the Queen's Speech in 2001.
I question why we had to go through things in so much detail again. I have listened to the litany of amendments that the Conservatives have tabled—all 80 very valid, but I can remember all of them being discussed in Committee during the 2000 Session. In fact, most of them were probably debated at great—some would say, over-great—length by the then Member for South Dorset. Obviously, that seat has changed hands and he is no longer with us, but I can remember him bringing in items of clothing with logos to show the power of branding. At that stage, there was much emphasis on various vested interests, and I feel that that has not been escaped because the Conservatives still seem to stand up for an industry that funds something that is not in the best interests of health.
The Bill interests me on a personal level because my father died from lung cancer. He was a non-smoker, but I have absolutely no doubt that he was a victim of passive smoking in his work environment, so I personally support anything that will reduce smoking. Not many people smoke in my circle of friends, so it is very easy to fall into the trap of believing that smoking is declining, but I used to work in the retail sector, where the situation was very different.
I worked as a pharmacist in supermarkets, and nearly all the young people used to head for the smoking box at break time. Most of them had started smoking at school. I do not know how influenced they were by advertising, but I am fairly sure that allowing fewer images of smoking, fewer reminders and fewer prompts suggesting that a brand is sexy in some way can be only to our benefit.
The Minister has said that the Bill is historic. In fact, I am sure not whether she intended to use those words because the historic bit seems to be that the pledge to introduce it has been hanging around since 1997. I am not quite sure of the reasons why we could not agree about the Bill sooner. If the Conservatives were so keen for the Bill to go ahead, there is no reason why it could not all have been worked out through the usual channels when the election was called.
I pay tribute to my noble Friend Lord Clement-Jones. He saw the opportunity to reintroduce the Bill that had fallen. He called himselfthe frail instrument by which we hope to reintroduce the Bill"— [Official Report, House of Lords, 2 November 2001; Vol. 627, c. 1647.]However, his attitude toward progressing the Bill has been anything but frail, and I express my admiration and respect for his tenacity. It goes to show that Liberal Democrats can make a difference. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I had to get that in, didn't I?
The Minister has said that smoking eventually kills one in two smokers, so does she accept that the delay has been unfortunate and has cost lives? I need to make that point, but I do not want to be too churlish. It is clear that the Bill will make a significant contribution to reducing the number of deaths, and I am glad that it will have the support of the House, but it is not a stand-alone measure.
Much has been said about smoking cessation initiatives, but they are still too few and still not advertised widely enough. The health education messages are not getting across, and we must do something to tackle the problem. Most children in my constituency are dead set against smoking when they leave primary school, but something happens to change that. We need to look closely at why that change occurs. 81 I agree with the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham that soaps and films have a very powerful influence. If people see someone smoking whom they admire or think is attractive, it adds to the package and sends the wrong message. Somehow, we have to get the message through to the media that we should have a few more positive health messages, rather than negative ones.
I also wish to add my comments on bootleg cigarettes and alcohol. Again, I was working in the supermarket sector when the duty-free arrangements changed, and nearly every supermarket in the south of England experienced a dramatic drop in its cigarette sales. I do not believe that that drop occurred because everyone was jumping on to a booze cruise to stock up on personal supplies at the weekend. Many people spent a lot of time and effort making a lucrative living from the change in duty-free arrangements. It is bit rich for the Conservatives to complain at length about that issue because they cut down the number of Custom and Excise staff considerably when they were in government, but I am glad to say that they appear to have seen the light now.
On Second Reading, Conservative Members claimed that there was insufficient evidence that the Bill would lead to a quantifiable reduction in tobacco consumption. There may be no such evidence, but there is certainly no evidence that introducing the Bill will increase tobacco consumption. I happen to believe that reducing such images will decrease tobacco consumption, and if we tackle the other problems together, perhaps the rate of smoking will fall dramatically.
§ James Purnell (Stalybridge and Hyde)
I must start by declaring an interest as an occasional smoker.
§ James Purnell
Marlboro Lights, actually. That is the last piece of free advertising that I shall give any cigarette company.
I started smoking when I was about 12. I clearly remember the influence that advertising had on my decision to start smoking as a teenager, which is not quite so long ago as it is for my hon. Friend the Member for Luton, North (Mr. Hopkins). As the hon. Member for Romsey (Sandra Gidley) said, children leave primary school absolutely determined not to smoke, but they then get the idea that it is glamorous. That idea is partly imparted by their peers, but largely through advertising, Hollywood films and television. The current restrictions on advertising somehow make the situation worse because the tobacco industry does not advertise the product but instead something like a purple stripe or a strange part of middle America. That increases the mystique of smoking.
The hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton) suggested greater reliance on a voluntary code, but that idea is doomed to failure. Previous examples of voluntary codes trying to reduce the amount of advertising to children and teenagers show that, as long as the industry regulates itself, it will find ways of being able to adopt a position that it can just about defend while continuing to advertise as it 82 seeks the 120,000 new customers that it needs each year to replace those whom it kills. The point was made in the debates in the Lords and in this House that the industry would not spend so much on advertising if it did not think that it had any effect. That point is unanswerable. I first tried to give up smoking after I had been to hospital and saw someone being wheeled out to the smoking room and painfully putting a cigarette not to their mouth, but to a hole that had been put in their throat. That experience of the consequences of cigarette smoking shocked me out of my complacency at that time.
As all the previous speakers have said, the Bill cannot stand alone. It must be accompanied by smoking cessation programmes and education in schools. However, to suggest that we should do other things does not invalidate the arguments for the Bill, which will be a building block in trying to reduce the amount of smoking, in particular, by young people.
However, there are good liberal arguments against such a measure. For example, Lord Naseby has referred to the potential conflict with article 10 of the European convention on human rights, and his argument deserves to be heard. It is important to show the problems that the Bill may cause, and I have some sympathy with those arguments. I would not want freedom of expression to be curtailed except when there is a strong case for doing so. In this case, I think that the case has been made. It is worth repeating that tobacco kills one in two of the people who take it up and undermines people's willpower and ability to make a rational decision. As such, Mill's hope that free speech and a discussion of the arguments would result in the truth coming out and the desired effect on behaviour seems slightly idealistic. The fact that the product undermines people's willpower and ability to make choices for themselves and kills many more than the drugs that are currently banned justifies the drastic moves to ban tobacco advertising and sponsorship.
The Government must, however, take account of the effects on sponsorship companies and on the sponsorship deals for sport. I know that the Government have done much to wean sport off such deals, but it is worth bearing in mind those who work in the tobacco industry. Through no fault of their own, they have become involved in an industry on which restrictions will be placed. In that context, I wish to mention the Gallagher factory in Hyde in my constituency. It closed at the beginning of the Government's term of office, because the company received an incentive to move it to Northern Ireland. The Gallagher building, which dominates Hyde, is empty and the hundreds of people who worked there lost their jobs. Many of my constituents have not found other work since the company moved to another part of the country.
I therefore urge the Government to consider what can be done to provide much greater transitional aid to people who are affected by such industrial change. People who had worked for a lifetime in the tobacco industry lost their employment and did not receive the help that they might have expected. I know that the Department for Work and Pensions now puts in place much more quickly effective transitional work programmes when mass redundancies occur, but I hope that we learn the lessons of my constituents' painful experience.
83 The clinching argument to justify the Bill is that about health inequality. If one compares prosperous neighbourhoods with those such as mine, it is clear that smoking plays a central role in the greater rate of early death in working-class families. However, it is all too often easy to forget that, behind those figures, lies a personal tragedy for each of those families. People do not only lose a relative but may lose the household's whole income. We cannot deal with health inequality just by building more hospitals and by investing in primary care. We must deal with the causes, and a central cause is the higher rate of smoking among people from low-income households.
§ David Taylor
I am listening carefully to my hon. Friend. Does he agree that billboard advertising, in particular, is focused in areas of low incomes and high unemployment? That is a particularly cynical move by the tobacco companies to reinforce tobacco consumption in those sections of the population who are most damaged by it.
§ James Purnell
That is an extremely good point. Anyone who works in such areas notices that. It is not the only cynical action that the tobacco industry has taken. For example, the marketing to young people and the cocktail of glamour, Hollywood or sport to encourage people to smoke by association are all in its catalogue of cynicism. Furthermore, the industry denied the link between smoking and cancer. For as long as possible, tobacco companies tried to pretend that something that they must have known was the case was not actually the case. That, combined with what continues to happen despite the good words that the industry uses about voluntary codes and not advertising to children, are testament to what it is up to.
I am not suggesting that people should be prevented from smoking. The hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham suggested that the Government did not have the courage of their convictions in not banning smoking. Such action would be deeply illiberal. Smoking is legal and to ban it entirely would not be justified. It is not a question of not having the courage of one's convictions but of doing what is appropriate to deal with a particular evil. Banning would be excessive, but the consequences of smoking on young people, in particular, are sufficient to justify the Bill's drastic provisions.
I hope that we will not use the Bill as an excuse not to concentrate on other measures to promote smoking cessation. For example, I congratulate the Department of Health on its "don't dare" campaign that has run over the past couple of years and particularly at Christmas to encourage people to give up smoking. The use of a broken cigarette is an extremely good way of reminding people of the slightly pathetic side of smoking.
My problem with smoking is that I find it easy to give up. Whenever I give up, I decide to start again because I will find it easy to give up again. That happens quite often, and one finds that one has not really given up. We should put the emphasis on getting the Government to advertise as effectively as possible and to continue their campaign to discourage smoking; we should not allow 84 tobacco companies to advertise to young people in their attempt to keep them addicted to smoking. That would be a major step in reducing health inequality, and would save hundreds and perhaps thousands of families from the tragedy of losing someone to lung or tongue cancer. Such provisions would be widely welcomed in the community.
§ Mr. Flook
First, I declare an interest, which can be found in the Register of Members' Interests. I also declare an interest as a heavy ex-smoker who smoked well over 30 a day for about 10 years. I did not need hypnosis to give up. Unlike the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (James Purnell), however, I found it so easy to give up 30 a day that I would not dare take it up again.
As a neighbour of mine for many years, the strictures on smoking by my hon. Friend the Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton) were such that I had to have a puff before I visited him. Every time I wanted another cigarette I had to go home, three doors away. I also recall that on an armed forces parliamentary scheme trip, the bus was held up while the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Pound) had yet another puff and continued his way with the wicked weed.
I am concerned that attempts on both sides of the House to scrutinise the Bill, which has been five years in the making, seem to come down to the fact that the Government cannot make their mind up. Instead, they say, "Don't worry. We'll ask the courts." Although the measure was a commitment in the 1997 Labour party manifesto, the Government decided that rather than introduce domestic legislation immediately, they would support and promote a European directive. That was mistake number one. The contentious legal basis of the directive meant that the European Court of Justice annulled it in October 2000. The Government were forced to introduce a Bill to ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, but it ran out of time. It is a great pity that they should try to make political capital and blame the Conservative party for that. The Bill needed amending and the important amendments were not just in our name, but in those of Labour Members and Cross-Benchers in another place.
We have gone over the arguments time and time again. It is important that we consider the Bill in that light. The Liberal Democrats make great play that the Bill is their Bill. I am sorry to say, therefore, that this Bill is their Bill improperly scrutinised. It is distressing that the hon. Member for Romsey (Sandra Gidley) contradicted herself. She said in an intervention that there was no need to add to Lord Clement-Jones's Bill in the other place. However, in her speech she said that the Conservative amendments were valid. She cannot have it both ways.
I want to address the failure of parliamentary scrutiny. The Government have tried to stifle the process of scrutiny by resisting every amendment that we tabled. Indeed, the Minister said that she had some sympathy for new clause 2, but she would still not accept it. Her predecessor, now the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, the hon. Member for Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper), refused to 85 accept amendments. The only way out of the problem is for the Government to ask the courts. However, the consultation paper on the draft regulations, which they intend to make as soon as the Bill is passed, baldly states that a picture of a packet of tobacco is an advertisement. It also says that an indication of a special price or offer is an advertisement, according to the Bill. The Government cannot have it both ways. They cannot say that is for the courts to decide what is and what is not an advertisement and then provide for us their determination of what is or what is not an advertisement. In that respect the Bill lacks a high degree of certainty.
Twice I have raised the issue of whether promotion can be matched with dissing, which my hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point (Bob Spink) raised. I have yet to receive a proper answer.
§ Mr. Flook
Many Conservative Members are greatly concerned that the ability of the tobacco companies to spend their way to success by advertising their products will be replaced by the tobacco companies employing lawyers to run circles around the Government by being inventive with such poorly drafted legislation.
§ Judy Mallaber
It is not stifling scrutiny for Labour Members to say that we do not agree with amendments. There has been plenty of time to discuss and make the case for them.
I am pleased that the Opposition will not vote against Third Reading, but they have come up with the most extraordinary smokescreens to prevent tobacco companies from being stopped in their attempts to addict people, which is what they are about. They are living in cloud cuckoo land if they think that tobacco manufacturers will happily agree to effective voluntary measures. Those companies have spent a fortune defending claims that they have given people cancer. A chilling John Grisham thriller, which was made into a film, portrayed tobacco manufacturers going through the courts to ensure that they did not have to pay big damages. I am sure that that depiction was close to the truth. Tobacco manufacturers have spent a fortune on targeting young people. They now want to get cigarettes more widely smoked within the third world and developing countries. There is no way that they will voluntarily do anything that stops them making profits.
86 The next smokescreen concerns the prevalence of smuggling. No one says that a ban on advertising is the only measure or the panacea. It has to work alongside measures to tackle smuggling, but smuggling would not be profitable if people had not been persuaded into becoming addicted to smoking. The hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton) said that we were suggesting a ban on smoking. The argument on Second Reading that we were removing civil liberties did not stand up. Conservative Members were pushed into admitting that the only limitation on civil liberties was the liberty of the tobacco manufacturers to addict people to smoking. People will still have the freedom to choose whether they will smoke.
As a non-smoker, my civil liberties have been abused for years by people blowing smoke in my face and forcing me to participate in passive smoking, but I have never sought to ban that. I could easily make that argument, however, because my civil liberties have been impinged.
§ Mr. Hopkins
Does my hon. Friend agree that the right to breathe fresh air is a prior liberty to the right to smoke?
§ Judy Mallaber
I agree. The right to roam across our beautiful countryside is another such right, and I am pleased that we have introduced it.
This morning I launched a healthy living centre in Amber Valley to encourage healthier communities. Its role is to promote a range of measures, in particular the reduction of health inequalities, as discussed so eloquently by my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (James Purnell). The centre promotes measures on healthy eating, deals with health in the workplace and highlights proposals on exercise and on mental nourishment through arts programmes. It also promotes ways to help elderly people to live independently. But what is the point of promoting that range of public health measures if we still allow the promotion of a drug that is one of our biggest killers? What is the point of putting all that extra money into our hospitals to pick up the pieces created by the appalling promotion of that drug? What is the point of including all the measures in primary care, which is doing wonderful things in my area? They enable the setting up of anti-smoking clinics, which pick up the pieces. The Bill is essential and I am delighted that it is making progress.
On Second Reading, I mentioned several issues that related to young people from my experience in my constituency. I visited a school and read out a poem that a young child had written about how awful smoking was. It was effective and moving, and I spoke to many young children about the desperation that they felt because their father or grandfather smoked.
We went on to the early teen stage, when children are vulnerable. I drew attention to a theatrical project in one of my schools in which a year 7 boy talked about why he believed that he might smoke. He said that he had not smoked because he thought that it was dangerous. He then paused and said straight to camera in a video booth by himself, "But I think I probably will start smoking when I get older and I just don't know why." We know why. This evening, hon. Members have mentioned the 87 glamour, the soap stars who smoke, the brand promotion and the advertising. They appeal to young teenagers. That is the age group that tobacco manufacturers target. That is what we must stop, and why the Bill is so important. Those who have not smoked by the time they are 20 are unlikely to take up smoking. We must stop the blatant advertising that promotes smoking as cool.
Tobacco manufacturers will not voluntarily give up advertising. They want to be able to promote their products. They need to get children addicted. If they cannot do that in this country, they will do so in third world countries and try to spread smoking there.
I am delighted that the Bill will be passed. Tomorrow morning, members of the Stroke Association will take a petition to Downing street that argues for more facilities for stroke patients. We want to move quickly on that. I shall be pleased to join them and be able to say that at least we are introducing a measure that will result in fewer strokes.
I visited my local branch of the Stroke Association a couple of weeks ago in stroke awareness week. I talked to people about the problems that they had experienced as stroke patients. My dad died of a stroke. He was a smoker who gave up smoking after his first stroke. However, soon after he retired, he had a second stroke. He never had a chance to enjoy his retirement. I shall be pleased to tell people from the Stroke Association tomorrow that today we took steps to ban tobacco advertising.
I congratulate everybody who has played a part in getting the measure through. It has taken far too long, but I welcome what has happened tonight.
§ Pete Wishart
Again, I am the sole representative on these Benches. I am delighted to follow the hon. Member for Amber Valley (Judy Mallaber). I have heard her speak on the matter on a couple of occasions, and she speaks elegantly and with commitment. It is unfortunate that we have reached the last few speeches on the subject, which has been kicking around both Houses for some time.
I am delighted to contribute to Third Reading and to reach that stage. People who work in health care, including primary care and cancer wards, will be prepared to congratulate the House this evening. There will be general delight throughout the country. Only the tobacco companies will be unhappy about today's proceedings. They will no longer be able to promote their poisonous product with impunity.
The journey towards the measure began in Edinburgh when the Scottish National party MSP Nicola Sturgeon promoted her private Member's Bill to attempt to ban tobacco advertising in Scotland. We believed that the Government prevaricated this time last year, and that Ministers' statements were ambiguous. Perhaps we were impatient, and the Government fully intended to introduce a Bill as soon as possible. However, last summer, we believed that the Government needed gentle encouragement along the road to ensure that we reached our current position. I am glad that we played our little part in the Scottish Parliament.
88 We were disappointed that the Queen's Speech did not include a Bill to ban tobacco advertising. If we could not have a full United Kingdom ban, at least the Scottish Parliament had the power to ban tobacco advertising in Scotland. However. let us be clear: we wanted a full UK ban, which is superior, just as a full European Union ban would be superior to UK legislation alone.
Since that time, Lord Clement-Jones's Bill has been adopted and we withdrew our measure in the Scottish Parliament. However, let us give credit where it is due. Nicola Sturgeon and our colleagues on the Health and Community Care Committee of the Scottish Parliament deserve credit for helping us to reach our current stage. They formed part of the tapestry that led us to Third Reading. I do not believe that we would be here without the gentle encouragement of Lord Clement-Jones, Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Parliament at a time when a great deal of backtracking was going on.
The Scottish National party and Plaid Cymru are satisfied that the Bill is comprehensive and will significantly reduce smoking and thereby smoking-related disease. It was important that the Bill was amended but remained comprehensive. I am pleased that the Conservatives' amendments were not supported. The Bill is now comprehensive, leaves tobacco advertisers nowhere to go and gives them no hope for future advertising opportunities.
Several hon. Members have talked about culture and the dangerous age between 12 and 17 when young people appear to be attracted to smoking. I have an 11-year-old son, and he and his friends can be pious when they talk about smoking. They can cite chapter and verse about why smoking is bad for people but I fear for them when they go to secondary school because something dramatic happens then. We should undertake a qualitative study to ascertain what happens between the ages of 12 and 17 that encourages young people to start smoking.
I agree with the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton) who was worried about product placement. The Bill does not cover that comprehensively and I share his anxieties about cigarettes and drinks being advertised in soap operas. My previous honourable profession in the music industry has a part to play. We need role models and people who will champion an anti-smoking cause. One rock star or film star with a cigarette in his hand is worth more than 100 tobacco-advertising billboards. We must do more to challenge that culture. We must try to adopt champions for that and make progress.
As the Minister said, the tobacco industry will try to circumvent the Bill. When tobacco companies lose hundreds of smokers a day, they need new recruits and they will do anything to find them. We must remain vigilant and, if necessary, revisit the measure if loopholes appear.
I congratulate the Government on pushing the Bill through this evening. I also congratulate the House of Lords and the Scottish Parliament on their work in ensuring that we reached our current stage. We have a good Bill that will significantly reduce smoking and smoking-related disease throughout the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Pound
In the interests of balance, it may be appropriate to hear the gasping tones of at least one smoker. Oscar Wilde said:A cigarette is the perfect type of a perfect pleasure. It is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied.However, he also said:As long as war is regarded as wicked, it will always have its fascination. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular.That is the key factor.
I support the Bill, although I have grave doubts and reservations about it, as part of a wider initiative that is right. There is no question about that. However, can we be honest for a moment about cigarette advertising? Twenty or 30 years ago, it was aggressive and influenced people to smoke. People felt that there was something distinctly wrong with them if they did not smoke. I remember the advertisement for Rothman's, which featured an airline pilot gracefully landing his jet at Heathrow, leaning back in the cockpit and lighting a revivifying Rothman. Often, my nine-year-old and 10-year-old schoolmates and I leaned back in our soapbox carts and said, "Now it's time for a Rothman."
"You're never alone with a Strand." I remember the enigmatic figure in a raincoat in the days when men wandering the streets the London at night in raincoats were comparatively innocent. That man satisfied himself on the bridge at midnight with a Strand. [Laughter.] It was immensely seductive. [Laughter.] I am sorry, Madam Deputy Speaker; the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton) has unmanned me.
In those days, an innocent child with no thoughts of nicotine could wander the streets of Fulham and be ensnared by aggressive advertising, and many of us were. In my case, I distinctly remember going to see the doctor on a matter that I do not choose to share with the House. The doctor invited me in and said, "Sit down, old chap, you look frayed. Have a cigarette." He whipped out his case—Turkish cigarettes on one side and Virginia on the other—and we sat and smoked. But that was then; this is now.
I cannot, in all conscience, believe that anyone who has never thought of smoking wanders down the street and, seeing a sign advertising Lambert and Butler, says, "Well, stone me, I think I'll start smoking!" It simply does not work like that. It might persuade people to smoke brand X rather than brand Y, but it is not the reason that people start smoking. I have teenage children at secondary school, and I know damned well why many of their classmates will smoke. It is because smoking is perceived as cool. To revert to the comment by Oscar Wilde, as long as smoking is wicked, it will be popular, and as long as we say, "This is evil and must be stopped", there will be children saying "Yes! I'll have some of that!" A few years ago, it was—allegedly— possible to import via the internet cigarettes that had a skull and crossbones on the packet and were called Death cigarettes. They sold by the bucket load—not that I wish to declare an interest in this in any way whatever. This is not the way to do it.
I was delighted to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Luton, North (Mr. Hopkins), the Minister and others talking about another real problem: the issue that 90 we blithely call product placement. As long as some sensual siren who reaches peaks of sexuality that people like me can only dream about leans back in her silken sheets after a hard night and lights a cigarette—and if the closest that I can ever get to Gwyneth Paltrow is to have a cigarette after thinking about her—it is inevitable that many other people will also do that. That is the problem. We have heard about villains on television, such as those on EastEnders, who smoke cigarettes and are perceived as hard, ruthless people who just do not care. That, sadly, is attractive to teenagers, and we have to address this issue.
I am going to support the Government because, well, frankly, I always do. I will support them, but not entirely with a full heart or even, possibly, working lungs. The reason is that this ban on tobacco advertising will not ban tobacco. Not for the first time, I am disappointed in Her Majesty's Opposition. Had they but had the courage to say, "This is a foul, evil business. We'll ban the lot! Let's go for prohibition!", I would have admired their intellectual honesty. They could quite easily have gone for that. Instead, they have been dancing around tabling these different amendments and I have to say that, in some cases, they have been rather foolish. The Government have accepted a pragmatic response and offered a pragmatic solution involving a range of options. I agree with that, and I will support them, but I implore the Minister and other hon. Members to realise that every time we send out the message that cigarette smoking is vile and wicked, some teenager somewhere—for the same reason that they buy those appalling Eminem records—will choose to smoke.
I do not wish to detain the House further, as many people wish to go to the smoking room after this debate. I will, of course, support the Government, but nobody should kid themselves that taking the names of tobacco companies off racing cars or ocean-going yachts is going to end cigarette smoking. That is not going to do it. It may cause great pain in the world of sports sponsorship—indeed, it probably will. My predecessor as Member of Parliament for Ealing, North is still sponsored for a pensioners' tea party every year by Gallagher. Fair play to him: it is legal and he continues to do it. I choose not to do so. But the Bill is part of a wider package involving cessation and health warnings, and I wish the Government a fair wind. I only wish that I could muster one myself, but my lungs are not quite up to it.
§ Ms Blears
I am delighted to have the vulgar loyalism of my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Pound). If that is the most support that he can give us, I am grateful for it.
I want to deal with some of the issues raised by hon. Members as briefly as I can, because we have been over this ground many times before. The hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton) said that he was still not convinced that there was a link between advertising and smoking. I wonder how much more he wants to see. He described his new clause as a paving clause for a sunset clause. One cannot get much more indirect than that. We saw his true colours there. That new clause was a last-gasp attempt to allow the industry to continue to ply its trade of advertising and promoting tobacco. We need to be honest about that.
91 The hon. Gentleman also talked about smuggling. He is well aware that the Government have put an extra £200 million into tackling smuggling, along with X-ray machines at all our ports and thousands of extra customs officers, and that 3 billion cigarettes have been seized this year. There is a lot more to be done to tackle smuggling, but he is well aware of the Government's determination to crack down on the problem. He also said that there was not enough time fully to scrutinise the Bill in Committee. The way in which he has failed to move his amendments this evening gives the lie to that. He had every opportunity to spend another couple of hours scrutinising the Bill and moving his detailed amendments, but he chose not to do so.
The hon. Gentleman and others mentioned product placement and the impact of the activities of celebrities such as soap stars on young people taking up smoking. That important point was raised by the hon. Member for North Tayside (Pete Wishart) and by my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North. We intend to do whatever we can to get some champions for our anti-smoking campaigns, to ensure that we get the message across as powerfully as we possibly can, particularly to young people. If any hon. Member can suggest anyone who might be prepared to help that cause, we would be grateful for that information.
My hon. Friend the Member for Luton, North (Mr. Hopkins) made an important point about price cutting, and asked whether the Chancellor might look at that in the Budget. I assure him that the Chancellor takes into account the effects of price in his Budget process, and he will certainly continue to examine that area. My hon. Friend the Member for Reading, West (Mr. Salter) raised an important point about the National Federation of Anglers, which is proposing to hold an event in 2004. The consultation on sponsorship is out, and people have until 15 November to respond to it. I shall ensure that the National Federation of Anglers is properly consulted in that process.
I welcome the support of the hon. Member for Romsey (Sandra Gidley) for the Bill. She also raised smoking cessation services. Several hon. Members have seen the Bill as part of a package, and they are right. Zyban is now available on prescription, and 40 per cent. of the prescriptions issued for it are free. The evidence is, therefore, that we are reaching the poorest communities, which are targeted by tobacco companies to promote their products. My hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (James Purnell) raised an important issue about his constituency and the impact on employment of measures to reduce smoking. He made a good point about the need for proper transitional provisions for retraining, reskilling, diversification and ensuring that people can get into other forms of employment.
The hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. Flook), who is no longer in his place—I understand that he had another 92 engagement—asked about negative advertising, which I dealt with earlier. If the effect of negative advertising is to promote a tobacco product, it will be caught by the prohibition. The crucial question will be: what is the effect of the advertising? My hon. Friend the Member for Amber Valley (Judy Mallaber) made a passionate and committed contribution to the debate. I had the pleasure of reading the speech that she made on Second Reading, and it was one of the most persuasive speeches that I have read. It was based on the real experiences of people in her constituency, particularly those of young people. She rightly raised the issue of the cost to the national health service of picking up the pieces as a result of tobacco promotion in this country over many years.
We have seen the true colours of the Opposition this evening. They will the ends but not the means, and they are afraid to make the hard choices that are the test of any Government. I also believe that they are out of step with public opinion in this country. Sixty per cent. of the people support an advertising ban, and 70 per cent. of smokers want to give up. The Opposition are also out of step with the rest of the world.
A worldwide convention on tobacco control is taking place in Geneva today. Doctors from every part of the world have joined to present a manifesto intended to ensure an end to misleading claims that some cigarettes are safer than others, and an end to all tobacco advertising. They want clear, informative health warnings on every packet of cigarettes. They want non-smokers to be protected from tobacco smoke, and they want tobacco taxes to be increased. World opinion says that we should end tobacco advertising.
I genuinely think that the Opposition are clinging to the myth that a ban on advertising, sponsorship, brand-sharing, coupons and free gifts is not justified by the evidence. We have proved here today that stopping advertising and promotion will help to save lives.
If the Tories are genuine in their desire to change, to reflect the views of people in this country today and to speak up for the most vulnerable in society, they will have to think carefully about how they vote. They must think about the children drawn into addiction at the age of nine or 10. They must think about the teenagers who are bombarded with images of glamour and macho dynamic sports. They must think about people living on low incomes in poor communities such as mine, who proportionately spend far more on cigarettes than better-off people do. They must think about pregnant mothers whose smoking damages not just themselves but their babies. All those people are vulnerable—vulnerable to the predatory actions of the tobacco companies that have to promote their products knowing that they maim and kill, just to maintain their profits. They made £3 billion in pre-tax profits last year.
Tonight's vote will be very revealing. It will show whose side the Opposition are on. If they are really on the side of the vulnerable in this country they will not merely abstain, but support the Bill and ask every other Member to take that positive action.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed, without amendment.