HL Deb 19 July 1973 vol 344 cc1373-5

3.30 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have noted that the back cover of the Radio Times of July 5 portrays in colour a racing driver's helmet inscribed "John Player", with the words "The John Player Grand Prix, Silverstone, July 14, first race 11 a.m. John Player bringing you the best in motor racing"; and whether they will use their influence to ensure that cigarette advertising by indirect methods shall not be exempt from stating that cigarette packets carry a Government health warning.


My Lords, we have seen this advertisement but we do not consider it constitutes a breach of the voluntary agreement between the Government and the cigarette manufacturers. The code of practice stating that cigarette advertisements should carry the health warning reference does not extend to advertisements on behalf of a company as distinct from its brands of cigarette.


My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Lord for that Answer, but is not the test in this matter: Does the thing tend to remind people of cigarettes? And, if it does, ought it not also to remind people that cigarettes are bad for their health?


No, my Lords; that is not the test in the matter. The voluntary agreement is very carefully drawn up and it provides that the use in isolation of a company name closely associated with the company's brands shall be deemed to be an advertisement for those brands and as such must carry the health warning reference. But in this case it merely refers to "John Player", and John Player manufactures cigars and tobaccos as well as cigarettes.


My Lords, in view of this continued propaganda by the cigarette manufacturers, is it not time that the code of practice was looked into once again?


My Lords, we monitor the behaviour of the cigarette manufacturers in this matter extremely carefully and I can only say that the cigarette manufacturers have carried out the code of practice to the letter.


My Lords, is my noble friend aware that sponsorship is essential to motor racing to-day and that John Player and other similar sponsors have enabled our manufacturers to produce some of the finest racing cars in the world which will eventually reflect upon the safety and other standards of the British car which is bought by the general public? Is it suggested, then, that formula racing cars sponsored by cigarette manufacturers should wear on their sides something which says that cigarette packets carry a Government health warning?


Certainly not, my Lords. We certainly do not believe it would be right to intervene between the tobacco manufacturers and sporting organisations.


My Lords, would not a more suitable warning than the one at present placed upon cigarette packets be a skull and crossbones?


No, I do not think so, my Lords.