§ 11.58 a.m.
§ Lord Clement-Jones
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.
Many noble Lords have made the point that today prayers were said for the last time by the right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, known to many of us as Jim Thompson. On behalf of other noble Lords, I would like to wish him well on his retirement and hope that we shall continue to hear his voice on "Thought For The Day" in the future.
Following the Queen's Speech, there was enormous disappointment, both on these Benches and opposite, at the failure of the Government to include in the 1647 current programme a tobacco advertising and sponsorship Bill. I am the frail instrument by which we hope to reintroduce the Bill and ensure that the Government stick to their electoral promises. Clearly, there is strong approval for this action. Yesterday, the Minister answered a Written Question of mine showing the number of written communications received in support of the current Bill. There were 370 letters between July and October and some 498 preprinted postcards. This measure has considerable support. It is notable that no letters were received which did not support the introduction of the Bill.
As the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, said at Second Reading on 28th March this year,Smoking is the greatest single cause of preventable illness and premature death in the United Kingdom".—[Official Report, 28/03/01; col. 272.]Smoking kills 120,000 people in this country every year. It costs the National Health Service an estimated £1.5 billion each year in England alone. It is quite unique in the dangers it poses for public health. As the Royal College of Physicians said in its report last year, Nicotine Addiction in Britain,Smoking is now recognised as the single largest avoidable cause of premature death and disability in Britain and in most other economically developed countries and probably the greatest avoidable threat to public health world-wide".Smoking is a major factor in lung cancer, strokes, heart disease, diabetes and a variety of other conditions such as asthma. And now we hear it is also cited as a cause of infertility.
If we are to reduce the incidence of these conditions, we need to reduce smoking levels. There is clear evidence which suggests a link between a ban on advertising and reduced levels of tobacco consumption. There is a link between the promotion of cigarettes and the decisions of young people to start smoking. But research shows that for a tobacco-advertising ban to be effective, it must cover all media and forms of promotion. If it is only partial, then promotional budgets will shift from the banned to the unbanned media and methods of promotion.
Dr Clive Smee, Chief Economic Adviser to the Department of Health, published the most comprehensive study of the link between advertising and tobacco consumption in 1992. He reviewed 19 studies, mainly from the UK and the United States, correlating advertising spend and total tobacco consumption. Smee concluded:The balance of evidence thus supports the conclusion that advertising does have a positive effect on consumption".Smee also reviewed the impact of advertising bans that had been introduced at the time. The most significant of those were Norway and Finland where bans had been in place for over a decade at the time of the report. He 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".1648 Other recent work has come to similar conclusions. In its publication, Curbing the epidemic: government and the economics of tobacco control, in 1999, the World Bank analysed the evidence and concluded that tobacco advertising causes tobacco consumption to increase and partial advertising bans are ineffective: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".Other recent evidence comes from American researchers, Saffer and Chaloupka of the National Bureau of Economic Research in the US, who studied data from 22 countries, in their paper, "The effect of tobacco advertising bans on tobacco consumption". They 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".As regards the effect of tobacco advertising on children, University of Manchester researchers in the mid-1990s found that,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".A study of adolescents in California between 1993 and 1996 found,clear evidence that tobacco industry advertising and promotional activities can influence non susceptible newer smokers to start the process of becoming addicted to cigarettes".Following a detailed review of the evidence, the US Surgeon-General summarised the arguments relating to tobacco marketing and young people in 1994. His conclusions were that young people continue to be a strategically important market for the tobacco industry; young people are currently exposed to cigarette messages through print media and through promotional activities, such as sponsorship of sporting events and public entertainment, point of sale displays and distribution of speciality items. Cigarette advertising uses images rather than information to portray the attractiveness and function of smoking. Human models and cartoon characters in cigarette advertising convey independence, helpfulness, adventure seeking and youthful activities—themes correlated with psychosocial factors that appeal to young people.
Cigarette advertisements capitalise on the disparity between an ideal and self-image and imply that smoking may close the gap. Cigarette advertising appears to affect young people's perceptions of persuasiveness, image and function of smoking. Since misperceptions in those areas constitute psychological 1649 risk factors for the initiation of smoking, cigarette advertising appears to increase the risk of young peoples' risk of smoking.
All that is clear evidence of a link between tobacco consumption and advertising. Public health will benefit from the comprehensive ban outlined by the Bill. On these Benches we have long advocated the banning of cigarette advertising on public health grounds and fully supported the Government's original Bill. That Bill was supported by a huge range of organisations such as the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Physicians, Diabetes UK, the National Consumer Council, the British Lung Foundation, the British Heart Foundation and the Consumers' Association. The current Bill has similar support as your Lordships will see from the letter to The Times on Wednesday signed by Sir George Alberti and Sir Paul Nurse, the Nobel Prize winner, to name but two.
This Bill will make a significant contribution to reducing deaths from smoking, perhaps more than the 3,000 or 2.5 per cent estimated by the Department of Health. Estimates published by the World Bank suggest the reduction in consumption may be greater—7 per cent—almost three times as great and therefore potentially saving thousands more lives.
This Bill, which is identical to the Government's previous Bill, will ban, with limited exceptions, tobacco advertising in the press, on billboards and by electronic means such as faxes and through the Internet. It will ban mail shots advertising tobacco products, except where the customer has expressly requested information. It will ban free distributions of tobacco products and coupon schemes and it will bring to an end sponsorship agreements which promote tobacco products. It will give the Government power to regulate the advertising of tobacco products in places where they are sold and to control brand-sharing or brand-stretching, which is the use of non-tobacco products with a similar brand name to those of tobacco products.
It is of major importance that the Bill covers the whole of the United Kingdom, although it provides that certain regulation-making powers will be exercised by Ministers in the Scottish Executive. On these Benches we believe, as do the Government Benches, both here and in the Scottish Parliament and in the Welsh Assembly, that a single UK-wide Bill is the way forward.
Clause 1 of the Bill defines a tobacco advertisement as an advertisement whose purpose or effect is to promote a tobacco product. It also defines a tobacco product as a product consisting partly or wholly of tobacco and intended to be smoked, sniffed, sucked or chewed. So general comment on smoking via a news story or feature can continue and only promotion or advertising of tobacco products is affected.
Clause 2 of the Bill makes it an offence to publish, print, devise or distribute a tobacco advertisement in the UK or to cause such an advertisement to be published, printed, devised or distributed. An offence 1650 under the Bill can be committed only where the activity takes place in the course of a business. There is an exception for a website containing a non-UK advertisement accessed in the UK of a non-UK business.
Clause 3 provides that where a tobacco advertisement appears in a newspaper or periodical, anyone in the chain of publication or distribution is potentially guilty of an offence, from the proprietor or editor of the newspaper through to the newsagent who sells it, but subject to the defences set out in Clause 5.
Clause 4 sets out the exceptions to the advertising ban. It makes it clear that communications between people in the tobacco trade which are not directed at the wider public are not caught. A further subsection excludes from the Bill any material sent in response to a request for information. But that does not mean that tobacco advertisements can be sent to all customers on a database. A further subsection exempts from the general ban publications whose principal market is not in the UK. It also provides an exclusion for the in-flight magazines on non-UK airlines. It gives Ministers powers to make regulations regarding tobacco advertisements in shops and other places, including the Internet, where tobacco products are offered for sale.
Clause 5 is an important clause. It specifies a number of defences. The essence of liability is that people should be liable only where they either know or should have known that they are involved in the publication or distribution of a tobacco advertisement. The defence available under Clause 5(7) makes it unnecessary for a newsagent to check through all his publications to see whether they contain a tobacco advertisement. If he did not know, or had no reason to suspect that a magazine contained a tobacco advertisement, he will not commit an offence.
Subsections (5) and (6) in Clause 5 provide for the position of Internet service providers and other intermediaries in electronic transactions. The Bill provides that they will not be liable when they are unaware that they are handling a tobacco advertisement. There is clearly a view among the Internet service providers that Clause 5(5) in particular contains dangers for Internet service providers, equating them as it does with publishers. I would be happy to initiate further discussions with the Government to explore that particular issue.
Clause 6 sets out the provisions applying to specialist tobacconists' shops, of which they are approximately 350 in the UK. Clause 7 gives the Secretary of State powers to amend any provisions of the Bill after it has become law if it becomes necessary to do so in consequence of any developments in technology relating to publishing or distribution by electronic means. As the Minister said at Second Reading of the Government's Bill in the last Session, the pace of technological change in this area makes it difficult to predict what new means of publishing or distributing may emerge. I agree that it is right to cater 1651 for potential developments in that way. The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee had no particular problems with that clause.
Clause 8 gives Ministers the power to make regulations concerning the way in which tobacco products are displayed in places where they are offered for sale. Clause 9 will prevent the free distribution of products and coupons which promote tobacco products. Clause 10 prohibits any participation in a sponsorship agreement if the purpose or effect of what is done as a result of the agreement is to promote a tobacco product. The policy and timetable on sponsorship was agreed with other EU member states in 1998 in the context of the annulled directive. Following the line of that directive and subject to consultation and any future European legislation, UK sports events will have until no later than October 2003 to find alternative sponsorship. Global events will be banned by the end of October 2006 at the latest. On these Benches we would have preferred an earlier date, but we have stuck to that in order to ensure that our Bill is entirely consistent with the previous government Bill.
Clause 11 allows so-called brand-stretching or brand-sharing to be tackled. It enables regulations to be made concerning the use by non-tobacco products of names, emblems and other features which are the same or similar to those used on tobacco products or vice versa. There are a series of other provisions in the Bill which I shall not go into at this stage. But that is broadly the shape of the Bill before us.
The idea—advanced by the tobacco industry—of a ban limited to advertising directed at young people is unworkable and ill conceived. It is impossible to draw a distinction between advertising that is directed at young people and that which is not. Furthermore, many adults struggle to overcome addiction to nicotine and there is every reason to reduce the pressure on adults.
Finally, when the Government are spending substantial sums of money on pro-health campaigns, it is a nonsense to allow millions of pounds of private expenditure to be devoted to achieving the opposite effect. To put that in context, the tobacco industry spends £130 million per year on advertising and promotion in the UK in contrast to the £13 million spent by the Government on anti-smoking advertising. A comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising is an essential public health safeguard. The Secretary of State, Alan Milburn, said not long ago that tobacco consumption is the biggest public health problem the country faces. I agree with him.
Perhaps I may say that it is a pleasure to see not only the current Health Minister in his place today but also to see two former health Ministers. I welcome their support for the Bill. I am not in the slightest abashed by the concern expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Harris, in The Times yesterday about our Liberal Democrat credentials on these Benches. My colleagues are fully supportive of the Bill. I regret that the Bill is not an official government Bill. However, I hope that noble Lords will give it a fair wind as it passes through this House.
§ 12.15 p.m.
§ Viscount Simon
My Lords, I start by declaring an interest. I suffer from asthma contracted almost seven years ago, which is triggered by inhaling any form of tobacco smoke and, with cigar smoke, I become very ill within a few seconds of a single inhalation. I would therefore benefit personally from fewer people smoking. Let us make no mistake; that is what the effect of the Bill would be; fewer people smoking. Contrary to what the tobacco industry might say, echoed by their fellow addicts both in this House and another place, fewer people will smoke as a result of this legislation. In time, thousands fewer people will die as a result. It is for that reason that this House must support the Bill.
The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, has explained why the Bill will be effective in cutting tobacco consumption and in saving lives. I should like to add another reason. We know that the Bill will achieve its objectives. If that were not the case, the tobacco industry would not be so vehemently opposed to it. The industry is terrified that it will lose the ability to advertise its products and with it the ability to recruit new smokers to replace the 120,000 people who die because of smoking every year.
If, as it claims, the Bill will be ineffective, the industry would be happy to let it pass into law. It would save all the money it currently spends on marketing and would not lose out on sales. But no, the Bill will work. It will cut consumption, disease and the number of deaths. The tobacco industry does not oppose the Bill because it is a staunch believer in free speech, nor because it fears that this will be the thin end of the wedge with bans on coffee and fatty foods to follow. It does not oppose it because it is worried that without sponsorship money, sport will suffer. It uses those arguments but they are not the real reason for tobacco industry opposition. It opposes the Bill because it is bad for the bottom line.
There is nothing inherently wrong with an industry opposing something which is bad for business. That is a natural reaction, although I wish it was more truthful about its real motives. It is the job of Parliament, however, to see the bigger picture, which includes the cost, both human and financial, of allowing the industry to continue to market its products.
It is perhaps not surprising that the tobacco industry is being somewhat economical with the truth about its opposition. In the parlance of television police drama, it has "previous". Perhaps your Lordships will remember the senior officers of the big tobacco companies holding up their right hands and swearing an oath that nicotine was not addictive. Presumably they had the fingers on the other hand crossed because, in a 1963 memo from inside Brown and Williamson, one of the companies whose chief executive officer took the oath, reported:Nicotine is addictive. We are, then, in the business of selling nicotine—an addictive drug effective in the release of stress mechanisms".A quick trawl through the secret internal documents released as part of the Master Tobacco settlement in the USA shows other documents released in this 1653 country, which show the real intent behind tobacco advertising. No doubt encouraging smokers to switch brands is a big part of why tobacco companies want to advertise, but it is far from being the whole story. I do not propose to quote extensively from those documents, but a couple of quotations summarise nicely the tobacco industry's real thoughts on advertising.
First, it targets non-smokers. Documents from the advertising company managing Hamlet cigars in 1991 lamented changes of the law stopping the advertising of cigars on television, stating:with the lack of TV we haven't been able to keep up the interest in cigar smoking for potential recruits …much of Hamlet's success has been in getting people young".In other words, they want non-smokers to become cigar smokers, and the younger the better.
Secondly, advertising gives the tobacco industry allies. A 1990 Philip Morris minute states:If one takes a pessimistic view of present trends, the tobacco industry could lose almost all of its political clout within two years. Overstated? Not really". If advertising sponsorship were taken away we would lose most, if not all, of our media and political allies".Without their advertising muscle, why should newspaper proprietors and editors care what the tobacco industry thinks? Why should sporting organisations care about the fate of the tobacco industry if it did not provide sponsorship money?
These are the real reasons why the tobacco industry wants to keep advertising. It helps to increase the market and to replace the 120,000 smokers killed every year by their addiction. If the tobacco industry loses its advertising it will lose customers, and it does not like that. It will also save lives, and for that reason I shall support the Bill.
§ 12.21 p.m.
§ Lord Skelmersdale
My Lords, the House will be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, for his clear exposition of the background to his Bill. The House is grateful that the subject has attracted the attention of the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff. We look forward to what she has to say based on her medical expertise in this area.
There is no doubt that smokers such as myself are the pariahs of modern society. I should declare an interest as a member of your Lordships' Pipe and Cigar Club. Any pressure, however draconian, is brought to bear by doctors, laymen and governments who would, I am sure, ban smoking if they thought they could get away with it politically—but they cannot. So slowly and surely they turn up the pressure, making it the mental equivalent of the medieval thumbscrews. To be fair, they have a point. There is no doubt—as the noble Lord, Lord Simon, has said—that tobacco is addictive, harmful to health and often ultimately kills. With a long list of speakers today, we must take this as read. I believe that this Bill will get its Second Reading today.
1654 It is not the health aspects of the Bill that cause me concern. I do not envy the self-appointed burden on the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, of reintroducing the Government's Bill lock, stock and barrel at a time when a new directive is being discussed in Europe which, I understand, differs in several respects from this Bill. I have not studied the comparison as well as I should, but I shall do so later. I do not believe that a Bill such as this is suitable for a private Member in your Lordships' House, however eminent. It is a very significant piece of legislation that imposes a comprehensive ban on tobacco promotion, advertising and sponsorship.
In order to achieve that, it has to cover a wide variety of subjects, including specialist tobacconists, advertising in newspapers and periodicals and their sale, television and radio broadcasting and the thorny subject of the world-wide web. It is the last on that list which interests me in particular.
The House will recall that the last time we discussed this Bill my noble friend Lord Northesk stated his belief that it comes within the remit of European law in general and, as regards the Internet provisions, the technical standards directive in particular. The Minister gave him what I can only describe as a sharp slap on the wrist and said "No, it is not necessary to inform the Commission".
Since March a significant event has happened. A similar Bill to this has been going through the parliament of Denmark. It was presented to that parliament on 13th December 2000 and sent to the Commission on 20th December. Not surprisingly, I asked why they bothered to do so, given the strictures of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt. My informant in the Danish Ministry of Health has told me that since a judgment in the European Court, which so far I have not been able to track down, those in Denmark have been more disposed to notify Bills than they might have been earlier.
I have never read anything which suggests that the Danish Government are more attuned to be at the centre of Europe than the expressed wish and belief of our own Government. Be that as it may, there is no doubt that Clause 2(3) and the allied and open-ended Clause 7 are a technical regulation under paragraph 1.11 of the directive which reads:'technical regulation', technical specifications and other requirements or rules on services, including the relevant administrative provisions, the observance of which is compulsory, de jure or de facto",which is obviously covered by this Bill,in the case of marketing, provision of a service, establishment of a service operator or use in a Member State or a major part thereof, as well as laws, regulations or administrative provisions of Member States…Those are notifiable.
My question to the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, is this. Will he join with me in persuading the Minister to notify the Bill? I understand that it will not do any harm. It will not even delay the Bill. It would be the proper procedure. Whatever the answer, I believe that there is a major Internet problem at the heart of this Bill. I believe that the Bill does not 1655 recognise sufficiently well that the Internet and the publication., distribution, transmission and the like of information by electronic means is of an entirely different nature from that of the conventional media of print or television advertising.
Between the two parties to the exchange of information via the Internet—that is the computers of the sender and the recipient which are either end of the transmission—there are numerous intermediaries who provide electronic links and services, most of whom are not known to and cannot be easily traced, if traced at all, by the originator of the information or the recipient.
It is not appropriate that provisions suitable to the printed media are simply applied to the media of electronics and the Internet, without proper regard to the terminology used, the way in which the world-wide web operates and the functions which the numerous intermediaries perform.
To obtain access to the Internet, an Internet service provider is required—we all know this. They are in a sense the gatekeepers to the Internet. Therefore, it is not surprising that questions concerning liablity for the publication of illegal material via the Internet concentrates upon them and the roles they play, for they may be multiple
. I believe that the Bill, in the provisions that it makes regarding the Internet, is both too simplistic and confusing. Clause 2 deals with the devising, publishing and distribution of advertising. It states that distributing includes transmitting in electronic form, participating in doing so and providing the means of transmission. It also talks about publishing or causing an advertisement to be published by means of a website. Clause 5 lays out the defences available to a person charged with an offence under Clause 2. This confuses me in its selective, but none the less significant use of the words "distributing" and "published".
Clauses 2 and 5 may be designed to produce what the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, wishes at the moment. We are in a very fast moving situation. What is appropriate for today may not be appropriate for tomorrow. Nor does it fully recognise the technology and software capability which already exists to filter websites and their contents.
I accept that under the e-Commerce Directive, Internet service providers cannot be required to monitor content. Given the advance of technology and particularly sophisticated software, perhaps there should be an urgent review of that directive. It may be that the fallout of events of 11th September will be a spur to this. Consideration of the provisions of the Bill, as they relate to the Internet, and the prohibitions and offences they create cannot be undertaken in isolation of other concerns and desires containing Internet content. Tobacco advertising may be the least of these concerns, but there needs to be an overall consistency of approach as to the liability of prohibited material via the Internet.
Control of Internet website content is a serious and growing issue. If the Internet provisions of the Bill are considered as if they were to be applied to 1656 pornography, offensive material or the incitement of racial or religious hatred rather than tobacco advertising, I believe they will be more clearly seen to be unsatisfactory.
The Minister, in winding up the Second Reading debate in March this year, said—and I paraphrase—that he would be happy to undertake consultations with the Association of Internet Service Providers (col. 340). We all know that the Government's Bill did not progress beyond Second Reading and therefore I would like to know whether any such discussions have been held. If not, are they still intended? If so, when? I noted the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, in that regard and I was delighted to hear that he would be happy to join the Government in solving the problem—if, indeed, it is soluble.
We have a long List of Speakers today, so it would be unkind of me to voice my other concerns. The fact remains that this is a draconian measure banning the promotion in its widest sense of a perfectly legal product. I shall endeavour to place it under careful scrutiny in its remaining stages.
§ 12.31 p.m.
§ Lord Addington
My Lords, I thank my noble friend for bringing forward the measure. It is well overdue and has been talked about for a long time. I previously spoke about tobacco advertising about six years ago and I received many letters from advertising firms. I referred to an article in which an executive of one of the tobacco firms stated that the reason it spent money on advertising was because it worked; it did not waste its money. I could not track down the reference and was not very interested, so I ask the firm not to bother to get in touch with me again.
The idea that cigarettes are bad for people and are not acceptable has grown in society throughout my lifetime. When I was growing up, cigarettes were seen as an acceptable tool in social interaction. When meeting someone in a pub, for example, it was perfectly acceptable to hand them a cigarette; it was part of the interaction. I am a lifelong non-smoker, but I remember that such behaviour was so ingrained in me that on several occasions I ended up taking a cigarette. On one occasion, I even got round to having it lit for me before I suddenly realised that I did not like smoking and put it down.
We entered a culture in which the handing over of those small tubes—things you play with and interact with—became part of our society. It was a very good marketing strategy. The funny advertisements about happiness being a certain brand of cigar worked. The advertising worked. Creative energy went into the advertisements and they made you think that it was an acceptable way to behave.
The advertisements tell you to ingest into your lungs smoke that is laden with a killer chemical. Our lungs do not like smoke without chemicals, and with the chemicals we are taking in something which will certainly damage us and may well kill us. Looking at the issue in that context, it is almost absurd that we are having this debate at all.
1657 I shall not attempt to ban smoking because I accept that it is too ingrained in certain parts of our society. However, the fact that we can encourage people to damage their health, which may result in a slow suicide, seems absurd. And we can turn the issue around—up, down and sideways.
If the Bill is not perfect, as the noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, suggested, I am sure that we will do our best to improve it. However, my noble friend assured me that the Government were bringing forward a similar measure, so this is one occasion on which I hope that the Government have done their homework. Furthermore, the Bill may not cover all conceivable future events, but Bills which to try deal with more than what is already in front of us are invariably great failures. One has a vision of a future which does not exist and we can deal only with what is in front of us. Therefore, I suggest that the Bill, or a similar measure, will be the way forward.
I have always believed that the suggestion that tobacco advertising and sponsorship are an important part of our society and are acceptable is absurd. It is ridiculous to suggest that elite athletes at the peak of their game would be enhanced by ingesting chemical-laden smoke. The fact that that has occurred in certain sports makes us cry, "Foul". However, certain sports have not done a bad job in replacing their sponsors and there has been considerable movement in that direction. One or two will be left behind, but if a few sportsmen and sporting structures—and I speak as one who holds a brief on sport—suffer a short or even a long-term inconvenience that is considerably outweighed by the decline in the damage to people's health.
The Bill should go forward in its entirety. It addresses an activity which we all know is wrong. In no other situation would we allow such a dangerous chemical on to the market or to be advertised for consumption. Let us finally close a chapter on our social history which says that ingesting this dangerous chemical is acceptable.
I shall now sit down because the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff, is about to speak and no doubt her comments will be more worth listening to than mine.
§ 12.36 p.m.
§ Baroness Finlay of Llandaff
My Lords, from my first visit here, it was evident that this is the very home of kindness, courtesy and true consideration. It is also the home of formidably intelligent and informed debate. I must particularly thank the staff, who have been very helpful and welcoming, and the noble Lords, Lord McColl and Lord Walton of Detchant who introduced me to the House and have been wonderfully supportive mentors from the time my peerage was announced.
It is an honour to be a "people's peer", as we were dubbed by the press. I was so surprised to be selected that I checked with the Commission Office on the day of the announcement to see whether it was really true. 1658 Perhaps I may tell your Lordships a little about my work and why I wanted to speak today. I have worked in hospice and palliative medicine for about 17 years and now, as a professor at University of Wales College of Medicine, I teach palliative medicine to doctors from all over the world.
I do not wish to be controversial. The Bill before us does not impede those of your Lordships or others who like to smoke. Nor does it prevent the sale of tobacco products. It simply protects the minors in our society from the tantalising ways that nicotine addiction is promoted for profit.
Perhaps I may take your Lordships through some of the evidence. Health promotion campaigns have successfully encouraged many smokers to give up, confirmed by Peto and colleagues, but these initiatives have not prevented youngsters from starting smoking. In Wales, about 23 per cent of boys and 29 per cent of girls aged 15 are smokers and alarmingly those figures continue to rise.
The tobacco industry journal in 1994 stated that the Formula One racing car is,the most powerful advertising space in the world".Anne Charlton's group in Manchester confirmed that in a study of 22 secondary schools. The risk of boys becoming regular smokers was almost doubled among those whose favourite television sport was motor racing.
The attractive images from cigarette advertisements effectively reach children six years old. A plethora of studies, both from the UK and from the rest of the world, have demonstrated that advertising powerfully influences youth smoking. They start with any cigarettes that are available and affordable.
In Holland, advertising is the strongest and most consistent influence persuading 15 year-olds to start smoking; stronger than peer or home influence. And the Australians have shown that many features of adult-pattern cigarette use are established by the age of 15. In Norway and Finland, the number of young smokers has fallen by more than one third since their advertising bans.
Health promotion advertising does little to counteract the impact of tobacco advertising on the impressionable adolescent who thinks that smoking is "cool" and for whom middle age—excuse me while I look around the Chamber—seems an eternity away. The Australian experience has shown that health warnings are ineffective in this group of youngsters but warnings of the effects of smoking on skin ageing has some effect.
Please do not think that only lung cancer and heart disease are the consequences of smoking when young. Almost all head and neck cancers are directly tobacco-related and cause about as many deaths as do cancers of the cervix, a fifth of which are linked to smoking. How would your Lordships cope if your larynx or tongue had been removed? You could not answer the phone, call for help, debate in this House or even join the dinner table. But the Bill before us is about advertising and promoting tobacco.
1659 An analysis of Canadian tobacco industry documents was published in the Lancet earlier this year. Rapidly assimilated visual imagery, not detailed information, is the advertising method of influence to recruit "starters" and dissuade worried smokers from quitting.
Embassy Regal's withdrawn advertising campaign featuring "Reg" breached the voluntary agreement on tobacco advertising. Hastings and colleagues at Strathclyde found Reg's flippant attitude appealed principally to children, whereas the campaign was not appreciated by the 30 to 55-year-olds that it purported to target.
Does it matter if young people are influenced to smoke if they can be persuaded to give up later? It certainly does. It seems that the young have a particularly rapid uptake of nicotine into the blood stream. Smokers' urine contains a 16-fold increase in carcinogens, accounting for their high incidence of bladder cancer. After quitting, the burden of DNA damaged by tobacco carcinogens remains much greater among those who started smoking when young.
I am lucky enough to live and work in Cardiff, a vibrant capital city with a population of almost 300,000. The toll of tobacco-related disease is great. It is the single largest cause of premature death and preventable ill-health in Wales. In Wales, there is at all times the equivalent of a whole district general hospital full of in-patients with irreversible, cigarette-induced, chronic respiratory disease. In Cardiff alone, at least two new smoking-related cancers are diagnosed every day. Every day of the year, five people under 65 have a heart attack, stroke or unstable angina, mostly tobacco-related.
Of those having a heart attack, half will die before reaching hospital. Those who survive often experience ongoing consequences. Their children witness the crushing pain of repeated attacks of angina, the panic of ever-increasing breathlessness, the depression, marital tension and financial strain. In the case of those who die outright—your Lordships may be forgiven for thinking that they had an easy exit—their children are left with the pain of bereavement and the sense of guilt that bereaved children experience, as they somehow feel culpable for the death. That experience is being replicated across Britain.
Today, in Cardiff alone, more than 350 people aged 18 to 65 and almost three times as many aged over 65 are living with tobacco-related cancers. They are all being treated, but the vast majority of them will be dead within three years. The Marie Curie hospice, which I established and where I have worked for 14 years, has 30 beds. In the past year, in that one hospice alone, where the average age of death is 65, 104 patients died of tobacco-related disease, leaving children and teenagers bereaved.
May I tell your Lordships about two patients for whom I cared recently? A young man with lung cancer, knowing that he would not see his children grow up, said with tears in his eyes:I don't deserve sympathy; it's my own fault—I have smoked since I was 14.''1660 The other patient was a young woman. Her husband had dropped dead two years before outside their back door. Their two small children had witnessed his death and the failed attempts at resucitation. She now had a rapidly growing cancer of the stomach and lower oesophagus, which was inoperable. I had to tell her eight-year-old daughter that Mummy was dying. She looked down, as children do, asking who would look after her and her little brother. She said:Who will take us to school and make us our tea? Will Mummy die like Daddy did?When your Lordships think that tobacco advertising is about choice, I beg you not to be fooled. Please remember that every year in Britain hundreds of children who did not choose to be are orphaned by losing one, or worse, both parents from tobacco-related disease. The cost to those tobacco orphans and to our society is inestimable.
§ 12.45 p.m.
§ Baroness Gale
My Lords, it gives me great pleasure to congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff, on her speech. I am even more pleased because it means that we have another Baroness from Wales in your Lordships' House.
Lady Finlay is a world expect on palliative medicine, and is a vice-dean of the college of medicine at the University of Wales. Since 1987, she has developed palliative care in Wales and contributed to strategic development in that field, of medicine in the United Kingdom and internationally, as well as performing her clinical work at Velindre cancer centre, Cardiff and with Marie Curie cancer care. She is President of the Medical Women's Federation, and between 1993 and 1997, she served on the expert advisory group on cancer, and subsequently as a member of the National Cancer Forum.
In 1996, she was awarded the title of Welsh Woman of the Year, having won her category in Women into Science and Technology. Anyone from Wales, and hopefully outside, will know that it is a great honour to be Welsh Woman of the Year; Baroness Finlay of Llandaff truly deserved that award.
I look forward to hearing her speeches in future, and know that she will make a great addition to your Lordships' House. I end by saying: llongyfrchiadau ar eich araith. Being, like me, a Welsh learner, she will understand exactly what I said.
Anything that can be done to prevent people becoming addicted to nicotine must be welcomed. Over the years, governments have introduced measures such as education campaigns to inform the public of the dangers of smoking, plus information and other services to help people to give up the habit. In March, the Government announced that aids to assist smokers to give up the habit, such as nicotine patches, would now be available on the National Health Service. Those measures are greatly welcomed. However, even more important are measures to prevent people starting smoking in the first place.
1661 This important Bill will be a great help in achieving that aim. It could mean a reduction in the total number of people becoming addicted to smoking. There is a cautious estimate that 3,000 lives would be saved in the UK in the longer term by banning tobacco advertising, although some believe that that figure could be even higher. The NHS could also save up to £40 million a year on treating smoking-related diseases.
I am worried about the effects of tobacco advertising, especially on young people. Most adult smokers start the habit when young—some as young as 10 years of age. If you can get through your teenage years without smoking—as I was fortunate enough to do—there is a good chance that you will not take up the habit as an adult.
To ensure that they maintain their sales, the tobacco companies must target their advertising on the youth market; otherwise, their business will decline. This is where a ban on tobacco advertising is so important. It is a matter of great concern that so many children smoke. Children will experience greater health problems when they achieve adulthood if they continue to smoke. A worrying trend is that there are now more girls than boys taking up smoking. For example, 14 year-old girls are twice as likely to smoke as boys of the same age. This is a disturbing trend, as the dangers to a girl's future health will be different from a boy's. Young girls who smoke will, when they are older, experience greater difficulty than nonsmokers if they want to become pregnant.
The most recent report on this subject was published in the media this week. A study carried out by the Institute of Health Sciences at the University of Oxford confirms the view that smoking increases the time it takes to conceive. The report states that,The results presented…provide further support for the previously reported relationship between cigarette smoking and time to conception".The report goes on to say that,this study provides further support for the view that smoking in women is associated with sub-fertility".The report ends by saying:The growing body of evidence that continuing to smoke while attempting to become pregnant may increase time to conception suggests that greater emphasis on this public health message is warranted".This report reinforces the dangers to women of child bearing age who continue to smoke while trying to conceive. Greater public information is needed, but it would be even better to deal with the problem earlier by using all means to help young people not to start smoking, which is the value of this Bill.
In addition to the problems of conception, women who smoke face a greater danger of miscarriage. Perinatal mortality is increased by about one-third in babies of smokers. That is equivalent to approximately 420 deaths per year in England and Wales. Research has shown that smoking may contribute to inadequate breast milk production. Infants of parents who smoke are twice as likely to suffer serious respiratory infection as the children of non-smokers.
1662 Despite all this evidence, approximately one quarter of pregnant women in the UK smoke. That is an amazing figure. Women should know the dangers of smoking while pregnant, but despite that knowledge they continue to smoke because they are unable to give up. This clearly indicates how addictive is nicotine. I am sure that these women realise that smoking is harming their babies but they cannot give it up. Studies have shown that the risk of developing cervical cancer is four times higher in women who smoke than in nonsmokers, and that risk increases with the duration of smoking.
The natural menopause occurs up to two years earlier in smokers. The likelihood of an earlier menopause is related to the number of cigarettes smoked, with those smoking more than 10 cigarettes a day having an increased risk of an earlier menopause. Therefore, the dangers to women smokers of all ages are great. It is highly likely that they started to smoke when they were young. It is appalling that tobacco companies often target their advertising towards young women.
What more can be done to prevent young people and children from smoking? If we look at what is being done in this field, since the 1970s health education, including information about the effects of smoking on health, has been included in the curricula of most primary and secondary schools in Great Britain. Research suggests that knowledge about smoking is a necessary component of anti-smoking campaigns, but by itself it does not affect smoking rates. It may, however, result in a postponement of initiation.
Since 1908, and currently under the Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Act 1991, it has been illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 16. However, there are not many prosecutions a year under that Act. For example, during 1999 there were 136 prosecutions in England and Wales for underage tobacco sales, with 97 defendants being convicted and fined. Fines ranged from less than £50 to over £2,500. It is strange that there are so few convictions when recent research shows that 3 per cent of 12 year-olds, 12 per cent of 14 year-olds and 23 per cent of 15 year-olds are regular smokers. It poses the question: from where do all these children get their cigarettes? The Act is not working too well if the intention is to prevent young people from obtaining cigarettes.
One hopes that the Bill before us today will go some way to help with the problem of underage smoking. Children may not be so tempted to start smoking if they do not see seductive tobacco advertising. I believe that this Bill, should it become an Act of Parliament, as a liberating measure will be part of a package to help prevent people from starting to smoke. It will liberate all those who might have started to smoke but did not and so free them from smoke-related ill health and premature death. It will help them to have a better life than they would have had if they had started to smoke. Many benefits will accrue not only to them but to all those who suffer from passive smoking, including their own children. Further, many savings will be made to the National Health Service which has to care for those 1663 who suffer ill health due to smoking-related illness. There will be fewer patients to treat, freeing up precious medical resources to deal with illnesses that are not preventable, unlike smoking-related illnesses.
I believe that this Bill is an excellent measure and I am very pleased to support it today.
§ 12.57 p.m.
§ Lord Naseby
My Lords, I am a non-smoker. I have never had any financial interest of any kind in the tobacco world. Frankly, I do not particularly like to have cigarette smoke around me. Before I went into politics I spent 20 years in advertising, and during those years I learnt what advertising could and could not do. If society, the Government, or the Liberal Democrat Benches, are so concerned about the effect of smoking on people's health they should be strong enough to ban it and not play around at the edges. But we know that society is not that strong. The Government themselves put the ban on advertising in their manifesto and then took £1 million from Formula 1.
In recent weeks we have heard that there is to be some relaxation of the law relating to cannabis and even ecstasy. As far as I understand it—I am not an expert on this matter—both substances are extremely harmful to health, particularly young people's, and are possibly addictive. On the basis of recent evidence, there is no doubt that they lead to loss of life. There appears to be some inconsistency here.
In introducing the Bill the noble Lord said that, following his three month campaign, 370 people had written to support the Bill. I suggest that that is not exactly a tidal wave of support. I would have hoped to do rather better than that in my former constituency if I had been promoting a Private Bill.
After the Second Reading of the previous almost identical Bill a significant number of amendments were tabled in this House. This Bill, with 21 clauses, is not a particularly long one, but because the Bill is draconian—the word "prohibition" features throughout the Bill—and unprecedented in its scale of interference in a legitimate commercial cause, I believe that this time there will be at least as many, if not a good deal more, amendments.
This House must face up to the fact that it is not against the law to manufacture or import tobacco products. It is not against the law to sell tobacco products, except to children. The noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, in making her maiden speech and the noble Baroness, Lady Gale, made the point that the sale of tobacco products to children under 16 is banned. Maybe it should be 18. But the noble Baroness, Lady Gale, asked the right question: how is it that young people obtain supplies of tobacco? Maybe the Act that is already on the statute book should be enforced more rigorously rather than trying to add one that will not work.
This Bill seeks to ban all possible means of bringing a tobacco product to the attention of the public. That is what is draconian and unprecedented. In my experience, as someone who used to be in the communications industry, it will not work.
1664 I am aware that Action on Smoking and Health, commonly known as ASH, will not be in agreement with what I have just said. I think that it is wrong. It arrogantly wrote to me to tell me—at this time when most of us in this country are thinking about the problems of terrorism and the need to get on the statute book an Act to deal with that particular challenge—that in their judgment,It is difficult to think of any other legislation which can do so much good at so little cost at this time".ASH, in its evidence, refers not just to cigarettes, but uses as an analogy guns and pharmaceuticals—or over-the-counter (OTC) medicines—in its assertion that this measure is not unprecedented. I suggest that the facts speak otherwise. The ownership of handguns is prohibited, although it is suggested that the actual number of handguns in ownership has not decreased. Leaving that aside, it is not illegal to advertise other guns, providing that advertising is done by a dealer or an individual holding an appropriate firearms licence. So there is no prohibition there.
It is also not illegal to advertise pharmaceuticals, or over-the-counter medicines, as the Minister of Health knows as well as I do, when they are available for retail sale without a prescription. Indeed, the Government are pushing more and more medicines into the OTC category almost every week. Those can be advertised. If some of those products are abused and not properly used they could be lethal. The Minister knows that as well as I do.
We must be quite clear that the Bill is not so much about regulating tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship but about banning it altogether. The Bill does not just ban advertising that is public, such as in the press, on billboards and in certain areas which are already subject to a ban, such as TV; it bans advertising even when it is communicated privately to an individual smoker, say by means of personalised correspondence. Even when the smoker has indicated that he wants to hear from his supplier, the Bill bans so-called indirect advertising—what they call brand stritching—where a brand name, or the like, is used for both a tobacco and a non-tobacco product.
The Bill does not go quite as far—it seems to me that its promoters have missed an opportunity here and I imagine that they will want to amend the Bill—as banning a corporate name. Therefore, presumably one can have Gallaher cigarettes, but one cannot have Silk Cut in some other form. I am not sure what happens to Virgin and other brand substances. Presumably they are banned from ever even entering the market at all.
The brief from ASH suggests that there will be exemptions, but says that they will have to be very tightly drawn to avoid unnecessary loopholes.
My noble friend on the Front Bench raised the question of websites; therefore, I do not need to cover that aspect. However I have questions regarding point of sale. I think that I could have been really creative with regard to point of sale. I could have produced a pack that was every bit as strong as a piece of printed material. Or am I to be told that the colour of brand 1665 packs is to be controlled, or that the size or particular typeface is to be controlled? Because if they are not controlled they become an advertisement. So I suggest to your Lordships that it has to go much deeper than what is suggested in the Bill at the moment.
The Bill bans the giving away of tobacco products, even at a private event and even when all those present are all smokers, if it is considered that in the process tobacco products will be promoted.
I have no doubt that such provisions amount to a gross infringement of some of our fundamental freedoms, such as the right to freedom of expression and to impart and receive information, the right to privacy of correspondence and the right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions. These are all vital and important rights in a free and democratic society. I re-emphasise that I am a non-smoker.
I accept, as all noble Lords will, that no freedoms or rights are inalienable. None the less, before we severely restrict or remove any such freedoms as the Bill seeks, we need overpowering and convincing reasons for so doing. The end must justify the means. I therefore believe that the provisions of the Bill need to be subjected to scrutiny as rigorous as that afforded to any other piece of highly intrusive legislation.
For some people tobacco and smoking are emotive subjects. But we should not allow our emotions, obsessions or prejudices to take over, simply because we are dealing with tobacco. We must examine what freedoms are at stake and determine whether the infringements of those freedoms that the Bill contains are justified.
I shall cite one example. Others will doubtless will be pursued in Committee or indeed mentioned today. Irrespective of the statement on the convention rights that accompanied the previous Bill, I believe that this Bill violates Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and Article 8. I remind your Lordships that Article 10 states:Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers".It is well-established that this freedom includes commercial free speech. The commercial world is not excluded from the convention. It is irrelevant if the aim pursued is profit making from, for example, an advertisement.
The same philosophical considerations which support freedom of expression in politics, religion and the arts support freedom of commercial expression. They are not two categorically different things, subject to different standards and having different justifications. They are exactly the same freedoms exercised in different contexts with the same justifications.
In the Recess I read a book about the Third Reich. I quoted from that book when we were recalled. If one looks at the restrictions on commercial expression that took place in the 1930s under the National Socialist 1666 Party one asks oneself the question: do we have to keep relearning that which has been taught us to be so adverse to freedom?
Article 10.2 of the European Convention on Human Rights allows for the restriction of the right of expression if necessary in a democratic society, in pursuit of one of a number of legitimate aims, including the protection of health. However, the need for any such restriction must be "convincingly established" and, in particular, must be proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued. I do not believe that either of those requirements are met by what has been said in support of the Bill. There is no certainty whatever that the Bill will have the effect that its promoters intend or anticipate. The intention behind the Bill is to reduce tobacco consumption and, in particular, the taking up of smoking by young children.
The effect of the Bill anticipated by the promoters was stated most recently by the Minister in his Written Answer to the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, who promotes the Bill today.The likely eventual net effect of measures such as those contained in the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill would be to decrease tobacco consumption, and the size of the decrease could lie in a range of up to about 5 per cent. It is reasonable to use the mid-point of this range (2.5 per cent) to indicate the likely effects of a ban".—(Official Report, 14/9/01; cols. WA33–34).I put it to noble Lords that that is not a particularly confident statement of the likely effect. It could be 5 per cent or it could be nothing at all, so a decision is made to take the mid-point. However, a range of that kind is unconvincing. Furthermore, the 1992 Smee report, which has been referred to today and is often quoted, made no estimate of the likely effect on consumption of a total ban on tobacco advertising in the UK. That fact was subsequently confirmed by the author.
Even given the range speculated, one must ask why the mid-point should be taken. The outcome could lie anywhere across the range. Personally, I believe that the effect would be zero.
I suggest that we should be provided with something much more substantial than pure speculation in justification of the Bill. That is particularly important, given that there are people—including people outside the tobacco industry—who believe that the effect could equally well be an increase in tobacco consumption and the take-up of smoking. Indeed, when one looks at the evidence of the experience of earlier bans on alcohol in the United States and in certain Canadian provinces, one soon begins to believe that the effect may be exactly the opposite to the one sought.
Nonetheless, if there is still insistence on proceeding with the Bill, then I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, will be prepared to accept the inclusion in the Bill of some form of "sunset clause". As legislators we should all consider that proposal. Otherwise, how would he propose to deal with outcomes from the Bill which are entirely contrary to his expectations? That is because we would be entering uncharted waters.
1667 I conclude by saying that it is obvious, I trust, that I do not believe in the need to remove so many individual and commercial freedoms as are proposed in the Bill before us. I hope very much that, in directing my remarks towards the important issue of freedom—in particular to the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones and his colleagues—I have been for the most part preaching to the converted.
I have always understood freedom to be a cornerstone of Liberal Democratic philosophy, and I quote:People arc most free when government does not interfere in their private lives, and when it doesn't pass moral diktats. That depends on strong civil liberties legislation. At the heart of our agenda is one theme, freedom".Those are not my words, but the words of the Leader of the Liberal Democrat Party.
§ 1.13 p.m.
§ Lord Faulkner of Worcester
My Lords, I envy my noble friend Lady Gale for having the good fortune to follow one of the most astonishing maiden speeches that I have ever heard in this House. The contribution of the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff, was quite outstanding. We usually say that we look forward to hearing from noble Lords in the future; my goodness, we certainly look forward to hearing again from the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, and in particular on this Bill. She brings to the debate a degree of knowledge and understanding of the issues which is, I believe, probably not equalled by any other Member of the House. I add my warmest congratulations to those so ably expressed by my noble friend a few moments ago.
I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, for his tenacity and tactical skills. By introducing a Private Member's Bill in identical terms to the Government's measure of the last Session, he gives those noble Lords who were enthusiastic supporters of that legislation no choice but to support him today and to do our best to see that the Bill goes through all its stages in this House.
I do not wish to go over the same ground as I covered in my contribution to the debate on Second Reading of the previous Bill held on 28th March this year; therefore I shall be brief. I shall address two questions. I hope that, in a sense, the first of those two questions will provide a response to the comments macle by the noble Lord. Lord Naseby. First, is the Bill a worthwhile contribution to public health or—to answer the noble Lord's question—will it work? Secondly, can the tobacco industry be trusted to regulate itself in the public interest and eliminate the need for the legislation at all? The answer in the first instance is "yes"; in the second, quite definitely "no".
As we have heard, the Government's own estimate is that banning tobacco advertising and sponsorship will reduce consumption by 2.5 per cent. Other estimates are rather higher. For example, the World Bank stated that if the European Union Directive 98/43/EC on which the government Bill and this Bill have been 1668 based had been implemented across the Union, cigarette consumption within the EU would have fallen by 7 per cent.
Advertising bans in Norway, Finland. New Zealand and France have led to substantial reductions in the per capita consumption of cigarettes, ranging from 34 per cent in Finland, where a ban was introduced in 1978, to 15 per cent in France, where a ban has been in force for eight years. In Norway, the percentage of the entire adult population who reportedly smoked regularly was reduced from approximately 45 per cent in 1954 and 40 per cent in 1975, the year when the ban on tobacco advertising was introduced, to around 32 per cent in 1999. I am indebted to officials at the Norwegian embassy who, in a note accompanying the figures, told me:The ban on tobacco advertising in 1975 contributed significantly to a subsequent decrease in smoking",The lesson to be drawn is that the longer a ban has been in force, the greater the reduction in consumption. That is because the ban helps to reduce the number of new consumers among the young as the older smokers die off.
The Government state that by reducing tobacco consumption, an advertising and promotion ban will cut the number of people dying from smoking-related diseases by at least 3,000 per year. That is almost as many as the number of people who die annually on our roads. In a briefing note which I imagine a number of noble Lords have received, the BMA states:It has been estimated that annually around 284,000 admissions to NHS hospitals, 8 million GP consultations and 7 million prescriptions are the result of a smoking-related illness".The other valuable effect of the Bill would be to make a significant change in the culture surrounding cigarette smoking. By breaking the link with glamour, speed, sport, recreation and sex, which the promotion of tobacco has sought to hang on to with its sponsorship of Formula 1 motor racing, cricket, Rugby League and snooker, and advertising campaigns which appeal to young people, there is a chance that children, teenagers and young adults will be less pressured by their peers to start smoking.
We know very well that the tobacco industry would eventually die out along with its consumers if it was not constantly able to replace older smokers with youngsters starting the habit. Very few people take up smoking as adults but, according to the BMA, 450 children start smoking every day.
In many areas of our lives, smoking is no longer acceptable or permitted. The smoke-free workplace is becoming increasingly common. I personally regret that the Government still have not brought forward the Approved Code of Practice and Guidance on Passive Smoking at Work, based on the excellent draft produced by the Health and Safety Executive. We have a duty to protect employees from other people's tobacco smoke.
Another area in which greater government help is needed is that of lung cancer research. So far as I know, only one organisation is dedicated to research and awareness-raising into the issue of lung cancer: the 1669 Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. I am proud to declare an interest as a patron of that charity. It is terrible to speak of fashionable and unfashionable cancers, but it cannot be denied that lung cancer will never become a fashionable cancer because it is seen as being self-inflicted. More women die of lung cancer than breast cancer, yet far more money goes into breast cancer research. The increased survival rate for breast cancer was attributed by Sir Richard Peto to better treatment and earlier diagnosis of the disease through screening. The same could be achieved with lung cancer if research were given a higher priority.
Furthermore, unlike other cancers, lung cancer is largely preventable. Hence the need for better support for research and for measures such as this Bill aimed at reducing tobacco consumption.
The pressure group FOREST makes a great issue of people's right to choose whether to smoke or not, but the choice that people should be offered is the choice not to breathe other people's spoke and not to have one's clothes impregnated with the stench of other's tobacco smoke.
But why can we not rely on the tobacco industry to behave responsibly and regulate itself? Here I move on to the second of the questions I posed at the beginning. The truth, as my noble friend Lord Simon said, is that the tobacco industry cannot be trusted.
In the debate on 28th March, I referred to the astonishing evidence unearthed by the Health Select Committee in another place while carrying out its investigation into the UK tobacco industry. This included the internal working papers of the five advertising agencies retained by the tobacco companies. These made no attempt to disguise the fact that their advertising campaigns were aimed at encouraging people—particularly youngsters—to start, and then continue, smoking.
When children start smoking, they do so out of a sense of adventure and because they know that in most western societies it is strongly frowned on by adults. But what starts as an experiment turns into an addiction, and most then get hooked for life. The tobacco companies understand that very well, and they know how to exploit it for their own commercial advantage. Here is an extract from the speaking notes used by Philip Morris's vice-president for research and development at a company board meeting, which were revealed under disclosure rules at a United States court hearing. He said:A cigarette for the beginner is a symbolic act. I am no longer my mother's child. I'm tough, I am an adventurer, I'm not square. As the force of psychological symbolism subsides, the pharmacological effect"—that is what your Lordships and I understand as addiction—takes over to sustain the habit".In its report the Health Select Committee concluded that,advertising agencies have connived in promoting tobacco consumption, have shamelessly exploited smoking as an aspirational pursuit in ways which inevitably make it more attractive to children, and have attempted to use their creative talents to undermine government policy and evade regulation".1670 The Select Committee also examined the voluntary agreements between the tobacco industry and the Government. It stated:Voluntary agreements have served the industry well and the public badly. Regulations have been seen by tobacco companies as hurdles to be overcome or side-stepped; legislation banning advertising as a challenge, a policy to be systematically undermined by whatever means possible".Internal tobacco industry documents show that it really views these agreements as a public relations ploy. One company memo from 1991 states that,the ultimate means for determining the success",of agreements to limit marketing aimed at young people, as,A reduction in legislation introduced and passed restricting or banning our sales and marketing activities;Passage of legislation favourable to the industry:Greater support from business, parent and teacher groupsAchieving a reduction in smoking by young people was not described as a success criterion.
Voluntary agreements make the industry look responsible without it having to do anything which actually harms its ability to market cigarettes. In this context, we should look at a tobacco industry initiative which was published on 11th September. Coverage of it in the media was, of course, eclipsed by other events that day. On its website, British American Tobacco said that the company, Philip Morris, and Japan Tobacco had worked together,to develop new, globally consistent Marketing Standards for the responsible promotion and distribution of tobacco products world wide. They represent a 'raising of the bar' and establish a benchmark for the industry world wide".It would be good to report that this represents a serious initiative aimed at curbing the number of deaths caused by tobacco smoking world-wide. But it is no such thing, as an astute tobacco stock analyst working for Credit Suisse First Boston in Wall Street has noticed. Her name is Bonnie Herzog. She wrote this analysis—which, again, can be found on the web—on 25th September:We have analyzed the 9-page agreement and believe that the multinationals' strategy is proactive and is a way to improve their image. These international marketing standards partly came as a result of increasing pressure from governments worldwide and anti-smoking activists. Also, by proactively setting new international tobacco marketing standards, the multinationals could be trying to counter a number of proposals that the WHO has been working on to curb the amount of cigarettes that are consumed on an international level.One would think that the elimination of certain marketing practices",she continued,would effectively decrease advertising spending and hence increase margins, however we believe the modest amount the multinationals actually spend on these types of practices will be redirected into other types of marketing promotions i.e., point of sale activity".So, according to Wall Street, the voluntary marketing code means it is business as usual for the tobacco multinationals.
1671 The shareholders need to be reassured that nothing will stop the relentless search for new customers, so as we make life harder for them in the West, the tobacco companies are after the markets in developing countries and eastern Europe.
What worries the international tobacco industry most is that governments will come together under the auspices of the WHO and introduce a global ban on tobacco advertising. The voluntary code is designed to derail the WHO convention and to mislead governments.
I hope that we can get an assurance from my noble friend the Minister that our Government will not fall for this. There is no evidence whatever that the measures proposed in the tobacco industry code will work, and plenty of evidence that the only way to deal with tobacco advertising is to ban it completely.
§ 1.26 p.m.
My Lords, I strongly support the Bill. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, for bringing it before the House as a Private Member's Bill. However, after Ministers in both Houses in the last Parliament demonstrated such strong support and made such impressive speeches for the banning of tobacco advertising, it is disappointing that it is not a government Bill. But I hope the Minister and the Government will support the Bill and ensure its passage through both Houses.
I declare an interest. I am associated with the charity Quit, which helps people to give up smoking.
I believe that controlling the advertising and promotion of tobacco products will have an impact on the consumption of tobacco, chiefly among the young and the disadvantaged. As has been said already, it is the single, most effective public health measure that the Government can introduce at this time. I hope that they will have the courage to do so.
No one can have any doubt—although some may deny it—that cigarette smoking has serious health effects. It is the single, biggest avoidable cause of premature death and disability in the United Kingdom. My noble friend Lady Finlay of Llandaff, in a brilliant maiden speech, could have left no one in any doubt about the appalling misery that smoking-related diseases cause.
I have spoken previously in your Lordships' House on the effect that maternal cigarette smoking has on both the mother and, particularly, the baby. Cigarette smoking during pregnancy is far more common among young mothers. It increases the risk of premature births and births of low weight babies, both of which are associated with an increased incidence of development al and growth problems in later life. The noble Baroness, Lady Gale, referred to other health effects in women caused by smoking. So recognition of the serious health effects of cigarette smoking is not at issue.
We should explore all possible means to reduce tobacco consumption. I believe that controlling the promotion of tobacco through advertising and other means, such as sponsorship, is a way of doing this.
1672 The public warning about the health risk of cigarette smoking has helped to reduce the level of smoking. The Government's efforts, which I applaud, further to reduce tobacco consumption through health education, smoking cessation programmes and making drugs such as Zyban available should also help. But spending by the Government on resources to reduce tobacco consumption is negligible compared to the large packets of money spent by the tobacco industry to promote its products.
Not only do we need to examine ways of helping people to stop smoking; it is important to address the issue of why they take it up—particularly the young. I accept that peer pressure is an important reason—but so is the sophisticated advertising associated with smoking. The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, and other speakers quoted the evidence for that.
Claims that advertising is targeted at adults and at those who already smoke in an attempt to get them to switch brands is in my view a "smokescreen"; it is possible to see through it. Logic tells me that if 300 people die from the habit each day and many hundreds more give it up, in order to survive, the industry must have new recruits. Those recruits are mainly the young and the vulnerable. The number of adults over a certain age who take up smoking for the first time in later life is very small. It is the young who must be targeted. Teenagers are also attracted by the adult nature of the advertising.
I am persuaded by good evidence that control of the advertising of tobacco products reduces consumption and the number of individuals taking up smoking. If there are noble Lords who are uncertain about the evidence, the burden of proof lies with them. I support the provision in the Bill relating to sport and other forms of sponsorship. I do not believe that lack of sponsorship will affect the promotion of sport. It has not happened in football; nor has it happened in countries where such advertising is forbidden. The Government could use part of the tobacco tax revenues to promote sport and a healthy lifestyle, as happens in Australia, with benefits.
I look forward to the opportunity that we shall have to debate the Bill in detail in Committee. I strongly support the Bill and urge the Government to do the same.
§ 1.32 p.m.
§ Lord Mitchell
My Lords, I join other noble Lords in congratulating the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, on her moving, impassioned and well delivered maiden speech. The noble Baroness's remarks were very relevant to the subject of our debate and we look forward to many further contributions from her.
Like many noble Lords, I was disappointed when the original Bill fell earlier this year. I was particularly sorry that the subject was not included in the gracious Speech. So I, too, must thank the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, for sponsoring the Bill. We must do whatever we can to help him steer it through to Royal Assent in this Session. I press my noble friend the 1673 Minister to use his considerable influence to ensure that the Government offer the Bill the support that it deserves.
I have only once saved a person's life. It was in France. A mother had parked her baby's pushchair on the pavement while she looked in a shop window. The brake was not secure and the pram started careering downhill towards a busy road. There was no doubt that the pram would have ended up under a car. I ran after it, grabbed it and returned it to the mother. It was a great feeling—and no one ever said thank you.
Today, I and other noble Lords have a chance to save many more lives. Based on statistics from other countries, it is estimated that if we ban tobacco advertising the effect will be to save 3,000 or more lives every year. As my noble friend Lord Faulkner said, put in context that is the equivalent of the number who die on our roads each year. If the Bill becomes law, I suspect that we shall all feel good at having saved so many lives.
I want to talk about the advertising industry and some of the arguments advanced by the tobacco manufacturers. They tell us that they advertise simply to win market share over their competitors. But that position is disingenuous. It addresses only half the story. Advertising has two strategic functions. The first, it is true, is to gain market share. But the second is to grow the total market itself, and that is the aspect that concerns us here today.
We do not care whether young people smoke Marlboro Lite as opposed to Benson and Hedges. Our concern is that they do not smoke at all. Of course, the manufacturers will try hard to persuade confirmed smokers to switch brands. But brand switching is difficult to achieve; and it is a costly exercise, measured by advertising spend per smoker actually migrating from one brand to the other.
Much more cost-effective in terms of marketing spend is to persuade non-smokers to become smokers. And who are the most receptive non-smokers? Of course, it is young teenagers. "Get them while they're young and they're yours for life" could just as well be the tobacco industry's marketing mantra.
Each year, tobacco companies spend hundreds of millions, if not billions, of pounds on advertising world-wide. They are highly sophisticated global marketers of branded products. They research their market constantly and are well aware of its ever-changing opportunities. They channel their market investment into those areas that will yield them the greatest return. If one market gets too tough, they will try elsewhere.
In the United States the tobacco industry has been hounded. Noble Lords will be aware that there have been some very high profile legal cases, where the industry has been punitively punished. But when you play the global game, you can dodge and weave between markets. If you lose out in America, you can put more marketing into China, Brazil or the Czech Republic. You can give out free cigarettes to children in Indian villages, put out seductive advertisements, 1674 sponsor sports, or do whatever is necessary to get those virgin smokers. Smoking is portrayed as cool, and kids love cool.
There are those who advocate that the tobacco industry should continue to use self-regulation and codes as a method of regulation. I am no fan of voluntary controls. Somehow the concept of an industry or a profession regulating itself has always struck me as naïve. Who polices it? Usually it is the industry or the profession itself. What happens if you transgress? Usually it is a case of a slap on the wrist, combined with an arm round the shoulder and a reassuring wink. You cannot police yourself. The conflict of interest between maximising profits and conforming to a code is simply too great.
I ask noble Lords to imagine the following situation. You are a brand manager with British American Tobacco, or with RJR Nabisco. Your job is to increase sales, you have a target and you are expected to achieve results. You are, of course, aware of voluntary codes of practice, but far more important is your sales goal. So what do you do? It is tough, isn't it? But we can see the dilemma and the temptation. How much better it would be to have definitive legislation to remove all ambiguity.
Today, we shall try to do our bit to protect young people in this country and to make sure that the United Kingdom becomes a less attractive market for these killer products.
Perhaps I may add a final comment with respect to my own field of specialisation; namely, the Internet. As the Bill implies, it is very hard to make this legislation apply to traditional international publications that are sold in this country. Clearly, overseas publishers may not be subject to the same restrictions as we hope will apply in this country. If that is true of print and broadcasting media, then it is even more true when applied to the Internet.
The very nature of the Internet is its unfettered global reach. From our desks today, or from our mobile phones in the very near future, we shall all be able to access any publication in any country throughout the world. The tobacco companies know this, and they are already planning international websites specifically targeted at the young. Not surprisingly, they will use such media to advertise their products.
Although it is hard to police such activities—I know that this area will be accepted in the Bill—we must do our best to make sure that the Internet service providers are subject to the same restrictions as any other distributor. I say to the House: please do not listen to the whingeing and whining of the ISP industry. It, too, must play its part.
If enacted, the Bill will cost little to implement, but it will save many lives. In time, it will also save a huge amount of resource both in the workplace and in the health sector. I truly hope that your Lordships will give the Bill the support it deserves.
§ 1.40 p.m.
The Viscount of Oxfuird
My Lords, the selection commission for the "People's Peers" must be congratulated on having sent us a formidable speaker and someone whose contributions in this House cannot but be regarded seriously.
In having this Bill before us, a feeling of déjà vu is unavoidable. In March this year we had a full debate on this same Bill. I recollect that it was a good debate. It reflected the concerns and differences of view which exist in this House on tobacco advertising, promotion and the effects of a total ban.
At this point I must declare an interest as I am a member of the Lords and Commons Pipe and Cigar Smokers' Club. One of the matters we have to bear in mind is that, parallel with our discussions here this afternoon, a directive is in train in Europe.
I have concerns about the Bill, not least about the effect that it will have on consumption and the take-up of smoking. There is no academic, scientific or economic evidence that provides any acceptable degree of certainty as to the likely outcome of an advertising and sponsorship ban in this country. The truth of the matter is that the real world outcome of this Bill is just as likely to be increased tobacco consumption and take-up of smoking as it is to have a negative or zero effect. That is not a basis on which we should proceed with such a major measure.
It therefore remains something of a mystery to me why there has been no effort over the past five years to explore the possibilities that a voluntary agreement system offers to achieve tobacco policy objectives. We have just heard a tirade against the voluntary system. Let us look at that rather more closely. It is my understanding from press reports that the tobacco companies have made such suggestions but that they have been rejected. That prompts me to ask: what is the current status of those kinds of agreement? Recently a Department of Health spokesman was reported in the press to have said that they had lapsed. If that is the case, it must be something of a surprise. If they are not currently in force, how is tobacco advertising now regulated? No doubt the Minister may have something to say on that.
What we are effectively being asked now is to replace the voluntary agreement system, which has helped to deliver a reduction in tobacco consumption in this country of around 38 per cent up to 1997, with a Bill the effect of which is speculated by its promoters to produce a reduction of 2.5 per cent in the long tern. I believe quite frankly that the comparison of 38 per cent and 2.5 per cent is most telling as to the inappropriateness of the Bill. It was the Government who, in 1997, committed themselves to legislation which they have not yet delivered. I should have hoped that, in keeping with traditions of Liberalism, the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, and his friends would have opted first for the route offered by the voluntary agreements rather than steal the Government's clothes. The statistics are certainly on the side of that action.
1676 The year 1997 is significant in another respect in that it was the year in which the smuggling of tobacco began to take on alarming proportions. It was the first year in which the Chancellor imposed disproportionate increases in UK tobacco taxation. Those tax increases significantly increased the differentials between United Kingdom tobacco product prices and those applying in other member states and wider afield. As is well known, price is the most important single determinant of tobacco consumption. It is the availability of low-priced illicit tobacco products which has increased tobacco consumption since 1997 by over 3 per cent. Again, I ask your Lordships to consider that figure alongside the claim for this Bill that it will reduce tobacco consumption by 2.5 per cent in the long term.
The revenue effects of all this have been significant. For 2000, Her Majesty's Customs and Excise estimates that the revenue lost through tobacco smuggling was £3.8 billion (that is, £3,800 million) and puts the percentage of the cigarette market accounted for by smuggling at 22 per cent. It is reckoned that over 70 per cent of the market for hand-rolling tobacco is sourced by smuggling.
On the Government's own figures, the revenue loss to date of tobacco smuggling since 1997 is over £9 billion (that is, £9,000 million). Those are alarming figures. Customs estimates that without the anti-smuggling measures which it has put in place in the past couple of years, the illicit market penetration in respect of cigarettes could rise to 33 per cent. As it is, Customs aims to reduce the level by 1 per cent per annum to 20 per cent in 2003–04. I find that only a very modest target. Surely we need to see substantially more resources, whether in terms of equipment, manpower or both, being devoted to anti-tobacco smuggling measures.
I should also like to see the United Kingdom being more proactive in achieving a closer harmonisation of tobacco taxation among the member states of the European Union and in ensuring the speedy closer harmonisation by prospective new members of the Community, some of which are a significant source of smuggled products. Even more appropriate, however, would be a comprehensive review and cost benefit analysis of tax, anti-smuggling and other tobacco measures with reference to consumption and revenue. Those other measures should include the likely impact of this Bill on the market for tobacco products, for it removes the ability of a supplier to protect his brand against illicit imports by means of advertising.
I commend to your Lordships the recent report of the National Criminal Intelligence Service entitled, The Threat from Serious and Organised Crime to the UK, which states:Counterfeiting of cigarettes is an emerging issue. Previously it was thought to be too expensive to manufacture counterfeit cigarettes within the UK. However, large raw tobacco seizures at the frontier, and the discovery of a large counterfeit cigarette factory, have led Her Majesty's Customs and Excise to believe that there are probably other illicit factories in the UK producing counterfeit cigarettes. Her Majesty's Customs and Excise estimates that half the cigarettes from the Far East are counterfeit. They mainly arrive from China, but increasing numbers are arriving from areas with large hub ports such as Malaysia. Singapore and Vietnam".1677 With this Bill in place, I can see no way in which a brand owner could possibly protect his property or control his operations. Whatever he might consider doing would be likely to be regarded as promoting his tobacco product, which is prohibited at every quarter in the Bill. That can only benefit the illicit traders, smugglers and counterfeiters.
The National Criminal Intelligence Service report highlights vividly the extent of the involvement of organised crime groups in tobacco smuggling and how many are also involved in drug trafficking. That smuggling connection is frightening. It leads right up to the trafficking of Afghan heroin—and we know where the balance of payments on that ends up.
Cannabis, which I understand is carcinogenic, is now to be reclassified as a class C drug. It needs to be controlled. At the moment, it is in the hands of traffickers and dealers. We need to get this one right.
The Bill will remove an important element of control of the tobacco market. Who is most likely to benefit? Tobacco smugglers and bootleggers, many of whom also deal in a cocktail of drugs.
Serious health risks are associated with smoking. It is therefore right that there should be strict regulation of the advertising and promotion of tobacco products. Whatever form regulation takes—it would be preferable if it was not legislation—it should be based on convincing evidence that it will reduce tobacco consumption and the take-up of smoking, particularly by young people.
In my view, the Bill is perverse, because it does not cater for smuggling. It is likely to have effects that could be totally unexpected or disbelieved by its promoters. I am particularly reminded of a memorable sentence in a letter written by the director of ASH to the Commissioner for the Internal Market in August last year and published on the ASH website. It was concerned with the Commissioner's critical comments on the action that UK Customs was taking with regard to certain duty-paid personal imports of tobacco and alcohol. The sentence reads:For many in Britain, the zealotry of single market enthusiasts is a matter of deep concern and distaste".It occurs to me that it is the same zealotry of enthusiasm that has brought this Bill forward for the second time without fully investigating the circumstances and consequences of its provisions.
§ 1.53 p.m.
§ Lord Haskel
My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, on introducing the Bill, which I support. However, I hope to convince him that it does not go far enough. I also welcome my noble friend the Minister, who is batting at the crease for the second time on the Bill.
I, too, am a non-smoker. I find smoking thoroughly unpleasant and I would like it banned where people eat and in all public places. Indeed, I would like it banned in your Lordships' House. I disapprove of it not only because I find it unpleasant, but also for health 1678 reasons. The speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Walton, on 28th March and of the noble Lord, Lord Patel, and the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, today have surely convinced us all of the health hazards. The speeches of my noble friends Lord Faulkner and Lord Mitchell, together with the wonderful maiden speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, about the way in which children and young people are attracted to smoking by glamorous sports sponsorship and how tobacco companies make smoking more socially acceptable, especially to young people, were disturbing. They were authoritative speeches, well researched, based on experience and independent of the tobacco companies. They presented the tobacco companies in rather a sinister light. I hope that my noble friend the Minister and his colleagues are keeping a close eye on such activities. Those speeches also convinced me that advertising, while having an effect on brand switching, also increases the consumption of tobacco.
The noble Lord, Lord Naseby, and noble Viscount, Lord Oxfuird, said that the Bill sets out to ban advertising. I do not agree. Smoking is still a legal activity in this country. There is a right to smoke. The Bill is aimed at regulating the advertising and promotion of tobacco. I shall address the issue of regulation. I am concerned that banning some forms of advertising and not others means yet more regulation.
As I said in my speech on 28th March, as a country we are firmly in deregulation mode. The prevailing mood is that we should be cutting red tape, not adding to it. There is a Better Regulation Task Force to do that job. Each government department has its own Minister responsible for reducing regulation. I think that my noble friend Lord Hunt of Kings Heath is that Minister in the Department of Health. Every government department has a kind of Star Chamber to scrutinise all new regulations. The CBI, the Institute of Directors, the Federation of Small Businesses, the chambers of commerce, the Engineering Employers' Federation and many others all complain that the increasing burden of red tape is damaging our ability to raise the performance of our economy and to compete in world markets.
In spite of that, Clauses 4 and 6 deal with regulating cigarette advertising and displays at shop entrances. Clause 8 deals with point of sale advertising. Clause 8(1) says that an offence has been committed,if the display does not comply with such requirements (if any) as may be specified by the appropriate Minister in regulationsThree more subsections relate to regulations. Other clauses deal with regulating Internet service providers. Clause 11 regulates the extension of tobacco brands to other products. Banning some advertising but regulating others must mean more red tape. Would not a complete ban be far simpler? Be brave and ban it, as the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, put it.
Perhaps the Bill's promoters are trying to be evenhanded and reasonable. That is understandable, but misguided. They will get no thanks for it. Regulations resulting from the Bill will be thrown back at them and at the Government as proof of yet more red tape burdening British industry. They may think that they 1679 are being reasonable to the tobacco industry and helping tobacco manufacturers to stop counterfeiting, as noble Viscount, Lord Oxfuird, argued, but I have no doubt that the companies will be among the first to accuse the Government of adding to the burden of red tape on British business.
In addition, such detailed regulation will add to the burden and create yet more responsibility for our hard-working and fully extended trading standards officers. They will have the task of implementing and interpreting what will have to be detailed regulations. Do we really want to put those public servants to all that trouble and get no thanks for it in the end?
The argument for a complete ban may seem like an insider's argument. But here in your Lordships' House we are all insiders of one kind of another. As a business insider, I understand why there must be a complete ban rather than yet more regulation. A comprehensive ban on the advertising and promotion of tobacco will not only avoid the burden of regulation as I have described it; it will also reduce the dangers to health about which other noble Lords have spoken so eloquently.
§ 2 p.m.
§ The Earl of Listowel
My Lords, I join many other speakers this afternoon in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, for bringing back this important piece of legislation. I also join others in praise of the maiden speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff. It was a deeply moving speech, and helpful to have the hard facts that she produced in her argument.
Her remarks reminded me of the young people—the 16 and 17 year-olds—whom I see most weeks. I was reminded of one in particular who had recently arrived from Boa Vista in Luanda, Angola. It is notorious as being one of the poorest areas in Luanda. This young man had made the voyage to this country and was staying in a hostel. I believe that we want the best for all such young people. We do not want them to suffer any more. We want them to make the best use of their lives and to fulfil their potential. I hope that, if the Bill goes forward, they will have a better chance of doing so.
I want to concentrate on the health of our children but, before doing so, I acknowledge the importance of the revenue produced by tobacco. Each year British American Tobacco produces £12 billion of tax revenue through different taxes. It employs 87,000 people world-wide, with 700 employed in London and 1,800 in Southampton and Darlington. Therefore, it makes an important contribution to our economy. There is also the issue of freedom of speech. We must think very carefully before seeking to legislate in a way that may harm this important industry. We must weigh carefully what we do.
The Department of Health says that smoking during pregnancy increases the possibility of miscarriage by one-third, and that it also increases the possibility of perinatal death or death soon after birth by one-third. A child born in such circumstances is 1680 three times more likely to be significantly underweight. Dr Doris Campbell of the University of Aberdeen—a gynaecologist with a special interest in substance use by mothers—points out that smoking during pregnancy results in smaller children who are born slightly more prematurely. She strongly endorses a ban on the promotion or advertising of tobacco.
Birth weight is important for two reasons. First, a low-weight baby is less robust. Labour is a challenging process and gives rise to the additional complications that I described earlier. Nicotine affects the supply of blood to the placenta. Therefore, in mothers who smoke, the placenta is smaller at the beginning of the pregnancy. If a mother stops smoking while she is pregnant, the outcome for the baby will be better, but it will still be in the region of 120 grams underweight. Therefore, the harm is done early on but can be made worse if the mother continues to smoke.
Twenty-seven per cent of mothers smoke. Professor Peter Fleming, a paediatrician of the University of Bristol, points out that the organs of a baby born to such a mother will be less developed than they would otherwise be. All the organs are affected but particularly so the brain. As a consequence, the child's development of visual ability is impaired. It is delayed and, sometimes, limited. A large amount of research carried out in the 1950s showed that the reading age of seven year-olds whose mothers smoked was one year behind that of other children. At the time of that research, the mothers who smoked tended to be wealthier—against the socio-economic trend.
Another point that has been made to me is that the growth lost by low-weight infants is not made up in later life. Genetically, a child may have in it the potential to be six feet tall, but if its mother smoked during pregnancy, it is likely to be shorter than six feet. Genetically, its IQ might be x, but if the mother has smoked during pregnancy, it will be slightly less than x. Therefore, serious and enduring harm is clone to the foetus.
This week, I spoke to an obstetrician who works in London. One of his current patients is a mother who smokes. She has given birth to a third seriously underweight and seriously premature child. All the doctors to whom I spoke were very concerned about this matter and were very much behind a ban on t he advertising and promotion of tobacco.
There is a particular problem in the developing world. In this country, if complications arise in relation to low-weight infants, they are assessed and, quite possibly, a Caesarean section will be carried out, thus saving the baby. In the developing world, that type of facility is far scarcer. Therefore, there is an increased likelihood of child fatality or child morbidity, with the infant being damaged at birth. Again, I remember visiting a hospital in Angola where the maternity department had five incubators. The matron said, "We really need 10, but we can afford only five".
My second concern is that the developing world should not face the same problems that we experienced. About 24 per cent of women in the 1681 developed world smoke, but only 7 per cent of women in the developing world do so. When tobacco companies went into South Korea, within one year the number of teenage girls who smoked had trebled. There are bans on tobacco advertising in Vietnam and Thailand. The World Health Organisation is working to produce a world convention controlling the sale and promotion of tobacco. ASH argues that a ban in this country will greatly reinvigorate the arguments, in terms of producing a world ban, and set a good example.
I strongly support the Bill. I realise that certain considerations have to be borne in mind—one must consider the impact on employment and companies' freedom to proceed with their business. On balance, however, the case is clear—we should have taken such action previously and we should proceed with it now.
I spend quite a bit of time with 16 and 17 year-olds. I started smoking at the age of 15. I inform noble Lords that young people need not mixed messages but clarity. The Bill is an important means of ensuring that the message that one should not take up smoking is clear.
§ 2.9 p.m.
§ Baroness Massey of Darwen
My Lords, I am delighted that the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, has had the wisdom and courage to introduce this important Bill. It was a pleasure to listen to the enlightened and powerful maiden speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff, whose expertise will be a great asset to the House. If I could say that in Welsh, I would!
I want to focus on young people and tobacco and direct my remarks mainly to health education. Young people are the addicts of the future. Most of them will wish that they had not started smoking and will want to give it up: they will find that difficult. Some will find that smoking adversely affects their finances and health, including their ability to enjoy pursuits such as active sport. There is evidence that health education and health promotion can work, but they have formidable enemies in terms of tobacco advertising.
I shall not burden noble Lords with statistics—many facts have already been mentioned. It is worth emphasising that there is a government target to reduce smoking among 11 to 15 year-olds from 13 per cent in 1996 to 9 per cent by 2010. Smoking rates in that age range fell from 13 per cent in 1996 to 9 per cent in 1999 but, worryingly, they have started rising again. One per cent of 11 year-olds smoke and an astonishing 23 per cent of 15 year-olds smoke. Girls are more likely to smoke than boys. That issue was substantially covered by my noble friend Lady Gale.
Some say, "Well, it is up to them. If that is the way that they want to spend their lives and their money, they should be allowed to get on with it". I cannot accept that argument. I think, and young people say, that they want positive guidance about their health and information strategies to help them to make decisions about their health. Tobacco advertising 1682 undermines that. Straightforward propaganda is aimed at young people, among others. As my noble friend Lord Faulkner and the noble Lord, Lord Patel, said, the tobacco industry needs young smokers for its survival.
A statement from the Philip Morris "Tobacco Industry Youth Initiative" sums up the situation. It said:The ultimate means for determining the success of this program will be: 1) a reduction in legislation introduced and passed restricting or banning our sales and marketing activities 2) Passage of legislation favourable to the industry and 3) greater support from business, parent and teacher groups".Such cynical and uncaring words astound me. How can we trust people who make such claims? I am sure that the majority of parents, even if they smoke, do not want their children to smoke.
I know many teachers who teach health education; I have taught it myself. We know that young people take risks. It is part of growing up. We know that they tend not to look at the long-term effects of their behaviour. They have information about smoking, alcohol, safe sex and so on. But health behaviour does not depend solely on information. It is about having the attitude and skills to avoid pressure and having the self-esteem to say, "No". Messages about tobacco use are insidious, subtle and difficult for young people to resist. This is where advertising comes in. The influence of teachers and parents is undermined by such messages. Positive help is undermined. We spend time and effort on promoting healthy schools, cities and people, which is then corroded by big money advertising from tobacco companies. Yet the tobacco industry says it carries out responsible marketing.
I have worked in developing countries where the tobacco industry wanted to put teaching materials into schools to give information about cigarettes, with the saying, "Don't smoke until you are 16." The company's logo was on the materials. Telling a 12 year-old child not to smoke until he or she is 16 is likely to encourage the first cigarette which leads to many more. Tobacco advertising is devious and aimed at selling cigarettes with the resultant impact on healthcare services. How can we trust people who cynically promote such aims?
The message, "Smoking Kills" on cigarette packs is meaningless to young people in the face of strong messages from other sources. Sponsored sporting events associate brand names with excitement and glamour and the brand name is visible throughout. This subjects young people to a barrage of persuasion that tobacco is more than acceptable—a good thing to be associated with, something that encourages self-esteem and popularity. There is good evidence that associating tobacco with non-tobacco events does have an impact on young people.
Banning advertising is important for the reduction of smoking among this group. As other noble Lords have said, it is nonsense to insinuate that advertising can target other groups without affecting young people. Such a ban, I believe, could discourage them from starting to smoke or discourage them from continuing. I hope that the Bill will be successful.
§ 2.17 p.m.
§ Lord Rennard
My Lords, imagine a tragic accident. A plane crash and the loss of 300 lives. The next day, another accident, another plane crash and again the loss of 300 lives. The following day, another plane crash and another 300 lives lost. Then 300 lives lost the same way every day for weeks. Imagine the public reaction. Those lives lost would dominate our concerns. Parliament would be recalled and it would dominate every media outlet. Immediate action would be demanded.
Yet 300 lives are lost every day in Great Britain as a result of tobacco-related illnesses. This Bill will make some contribution to saving some of those lives; giving many people a healthier life and, to some, a more prosperous one. This Bill would save around 10 lives per day, perhaps more. The fact that it will help to save lives is incontrovertible.
It will reduce ill health and for some people it will remove a contributory factor to their poverty. Many of those addicted to tobacco are the poorest in society and are made significantly poorer as a result of this habit. The country is made poorer by their addiction because of the enormous costs to our health service as well as the economic and social consequences of related illnesses. There is a clear link between cot deaths and households where smoking tobacco is prevalent.
In a world where many parents worry about the dangers their children face, the most effective action parents could take is to allow their children to grow up in a smoke-free environment.
The noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff, in a most persuasive speech, spoke emotionally about how she had to tell an eight-year old girl that her mother was dying of a smoking-related illness. I was 16 when my mother died of a hypertensive heart disease to which smoking was probably a contributory factor. I had to explain to my younger brother what might happen to us, my father having died some years previously.
Tragically, my younger brother was already addicted to smoking tobacco. He took up the habit at school because he was attracted to the adult image he sought to acquire. Nicotine is highly addictive and he has been unable to break his habit in spite of serious damage to his own health. He is a chronic asthmatic. The aggravation to his asthma made him too ill to work. Unable to afford his mortgage, his house was repossessed. His habit is more expensive than he can afford and continues to have a bad effect on his health. Tobacco has been a disaster for him and his quality of life.
The tobacco companies say that advertising tobacco is not responsible for his addiction. But that is the same industry which denied for many decades that there was any connection at all between tobacco and lung cancer. It is an industry that denied that nicotine was addictive. It is an industry with a reputation for suppressing the facts and ignoring the medical and scientific evidence for as long as it can get away with it. It is an industry that knows it needs to target young 1684 people because 90 per cent of all smokers start before they are 20. It is an industry that exists to make as much profit as it can before half of its customers die prematurely as a result of smoking their product.
The noble Lord, Lord Naseby, argued the tobacco industry case; that smoking, however harmful, is a legal activity and it should be able to promote it irrespective of the deaths and damage that it causes. But not everything that is legal should be encouraged, and advertising tobacco clearly encourages the smoking of cigarettes.
For many years it was not a legal requirement to wear a seat belt in a car. But would it have been right for advertisements to encourage people to "enjoy their legal freedom" not to wear a seat belt and put themselves and others at much greater risk of serious injury and death, with further consequences and costs for many people? Of course not; it would have been highly irresponsible.
The Government estimate for the number of lives saved by this measure is equal to the total number of road deaths in this country. How then could we fail to act to ensure that this Bill is carried? It is not about reducing choice; it is about not encouraging an obviously bad choice that has adverse effects not only on the individual, but also on many others.
The tobacco industry argues the case for freedom of speech. But we recognise these days that freedom of speech does not extend, for example, to inciting racial hatred or making a hoax call suggesting a bomb has been planted, or shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theatre and causing a dangerous stampede when there is no such danger.
Tobacco advertising promotes tobacco smoking. It suggests that it is socially acceptable, pleasurable and can even be associated with healthy activities and entertainment. As my noble friend Lord Clement-Jones pointed out, 10 times as much money is now spent by the tobacco industry in this country peddling its product than is spent by the Government warning that it is highly addictive, life threatening and a major cause of ill health.
It is an absurd claim that while advertising increases the consumption of virtually every other product, it somehow does not work for tobacco. Advertising fashionable products to young people in particular creates a demand for a whole range of products, not just specific brands. Studies of advertising bans elsewhere show resultant falls in overall consumption. But they must be comprehensive, including sponsorship, which is merely another form of advertising.
The noble Viscount, Lord Oxfuird, says that in his opinion the Bill may even increase tobacco consumption. If that were so, then surely the tobacco industry and its front organisations, such as Forest, would be arguing for this Bill if there was any prospect of it actually increasing tobacco consumption. The evidence of the introduction of comprehensive bans in other countries such as Norway, Finland, New Zealand and Canada, is that there have been considerable reductions in tobacco consumption as a 1685 result of the introduction of the bans, and by figures well in excess of our official government estimate of the likely effect of the introduction of this Bill.
Advertising of tobacco is essential to the continuation of widespread smoking in this country, as 300 people per day die from the habit and over 1,000 people per day give up the habit for good. That is why the advertising must be banned.
Advertising tobacco is particularly effective with children. It cannot be a coincidence that the BMA discovered that the most heavily-advertised brand is the most likely to be smoked by children. Sponsorship is just as insidious. Research quoted earlier in the debate, published in The Lancet, showed that boys are nearly twice as likely to become regular smokers if they are motor-racing fans. That cannot be a coincidence.
There are many terrible things in this world: natural disasters and those made by man. Sadly, there is nothing we can do about many of them. But smoking-related deaths and illnesses are terrible things about which we can do something, by supporting the Bill.
§ 2.26 p.m.
§ Lord Rea
My Lords, by introducing the Bill the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, is doing the country a great service as well as helping the Government out of a hole, one which they dug for themselves by not including the Bill in this parliamentary Session. I do not suppose that the Lib Dems feel that rescuing the Government from difficulties is high on their priority list. However, in promoting the Bill the noble Lord has shown that public health has a high place on that priority list. For that he deserves congratulation. I am optimistic that my noble friend will respond favourably to the Bill and that it will be given government backing in another place.
The Department of Health has calculated that 3,000 lives per year will eventually be saved if the Bill becomes law. That figure is often quoted, and has been quoted in the debate. I think it worthwhile to explain how that figure is derived. In 1992 Clive Smee, a highly regarded medical statistician, undertook a thorough analysis of the effects of tobacco advertising legislation throughout the world and concluded that on balance a prohibition on advertising significantly reduces the prevalence of smoking. The figure we have today of a 2.5 per cent reduction was derived using Smee's data and methodology. The number of 3,000 deaths prevented per annum comes from applying that percentage to the total of 120,000 deaths annually which are due to smoking-related diseases.
In some countries Smee found that there was no detectable reduction in smoking—in some there was an increase—after an advertising ban. However, usually that was because there was no parallel programme to discourage smoking or to help smokers give up. In Norway, on the other hand, which has been referred to by a number of speakers, at the same time as the advertising ban there was a major health education blitz on smoking. A reduction of 7 per cent per annum was achieved. That included younger 1686 smokers, particularly young women who, as many speakers have pointed out, are normally a difficult group to persuade to give up or to protect from peer pressure to begin smoking.
However, even if it has not been possible to demonstrate a reduction in smoking, in my view there is a strong case for an advertising and promotion ban on common sense grounds and moral grounds. It is now almost exactly 50 years since Professor Sir Richard Doll published, with Sir Austin Bradford Hill, the famous paper giving the first clear evidence of the relation between smoking and cancer of the lung. Sir Richard tells the story of a recent conversation he had with a 15 year-old whom he was trying to dissuade from smoking. The boy said, "Of course smoking can't be as harmful as you say, otherwise the Government wouldn't allow cigarettes to be advertised".
It is Friday, and I rest my case. I hope that the Bill has a smooth and rapid passage through this House.
§ 2.29 p.m.
§ The Earl of Liverpool
My Lords, it has been a privilege for me to be in your Lordships' House this afternoon to hear the maiden speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, which was well-informed and moving. I know that I speak for all noble Lords in saying that we look forward to hearing her contributions on many future occasions.
As a number of noble Lords have already pointed out today, we are being asked to give a Second Reading to a Bill which, to all intents and purposes, is the government Bill which was before us some seven months ago. Therefore, I make no apology for the fact that some of my remarks and observations will have a ring of familiarity about them.
Before proceeding further, I should like to follow my noble friends Lord Oxfuird and Lord Skelmersdale in informing the House that I am a member of the Lords and Commons Pipe and Cigar Smokers' Club.
It is interesting to note that this Bill is not being introduced by the Government but as a Private Member's Bill by the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, from the Liberal Democrat Benches, who has confirmed that it is their official policy. In his press release of 11th July the noble Lord said that by doing so,We are clearly providing the effective opposition to an unambitious Labour Government".I have a number of observations to make about that remark. First, it seems inappropriate because I have not discerned any change in the position of the Government on tobacco advertising, regrettable though I find that to be. Secondly, recent remarks by Ministers have steadfastly stood by the introduction of legislation when parliamentary time permits, and in this Session if possible. I find it hard to see how the noble Lord can claim his action in taking over the Government's Bill is that of an effective opposition.
We are all aware of the great pressures that now exist on parliamentary time. Perhaps the noble Lord will be persuaded that his Bill is premature when 1687 considered in the context of the remarks made by my noble friend Lord Skelmersdale, which I regard as highly relevant.
The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, acknowledged in his introduction and clear explanation of his Bill that there are dangers in the Bill concerning the Internet and e-commerce. Furthermore, the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, may be putting the cart before the horse because we are awaiting the EC directive. I look forward to hearing what the Minister and the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, will have to say on this specific matter.
I turn to the extraordinary mixed message that I believe will be given out if this Bill proceeds to the statute book. On the one hand, we have a government intent on liberalising the use of cannabis by reclassifying it as a class C drug and, on the other hand, we will have this draconian and unique legislation, banning the advertising of tobacco products which it is legal to manufacture, import, sell, buy, use and enjoy. This hardly looks like joined-up government thinking.
The passage of this Bill would change radically the whole market environment for the products with which it is concerned. Thereby it would change the dynamics of the market without any certainty that it would achieve the objectives of reducing tobacco consumption or take up of the products, especially by young people. Its effect may well be to increase consumption and take up. I will return to that later.
In addition it would create a precedent to be followed in respect of other products at some time in the future. In the previous Parliament the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, with his tongue firmly in his cheek, demonstrated how readily this Bill could be used as a template for prohibiting other advertising by introducing legislation on liquor advertising and promotion. As we know, liquor can be at least as damaging to health as tobacco and more damaging in social terms.
The Bill, if passed, would prove beyond peradventure that we live in a nanny state, and in that context I agree wholeheartedly with everything said by my noble friend Lord Naseby. Furthermore, the Bill gives rise to extensive secondary legislation. It includes at least six regulation-making powers as well as Clause 7, the Henry VIII clause. These are wide-ranging powers and we shall need to look carefully at them at later stages of the Bill.
I conclude by reiterating what I said in this House some seven months ago. I believe that the Bill before us today is misconceived and also presents a dangerous precedent. Whatever one's views about smoking, I believe it unfair for an industry going about its lawful and legal business to be discriminated against in such a way. The voluntary agreements in place between the industry and government worked well and achieved a year-on-year reduction in consumption until, ironically, the recent draconian tax increases. They have had the perverse effect of increasing consumption since 1997. I believe that the reason for that was the 1688 rapid growth of a flourishing illegal billion-pound business, tobacco smuggling, referred to by my noble friend Lord Oxfuird.
That has led to a black market in which cigarettes are readily available at 50 per cent discount to the retail price. With all other avenues denied them, tobacco companies will have no option but to resort to a price war in an effort to retain market share. As I have already said, the effect of that will tend to be to drive consumption up. For those reasons, I believe that careful thought needs to be given to the Bill before we proceed much further and it will certainly require scrutiny in Committee.
§ 2.36 p.m.
§ Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen
My Lords, I, too, want to place on record my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, for enabling us to debate the issue yet again. I also want to congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff, on her brilliant and moving maiden speech.
I support the main sentiments of the Bill and seriously hope that this time the Bill will come to fruition. I spoke in debates on the previous Bill and today I want to concentrate totally on a theme I introduced previously; that is, the effect which the prolonged debate on tobacco advertising and promotion is having on those who work in the tobacco industry.
For the past four years, workers in the tobacco industry have had the sword of Damocles hanging over their heads. It was in 1997 that the Government first proposed alterations to tobacco advertising and promotion. At that time, a number of Ministers said that action would be taken quickly. It was not. Instead, it was decided that a longer time was needed to consider the detailed effects of any actions taken. Eventually, the Bill was produced but, as we know, it fell because of the general election; and then it was not in the Queen's Speech.
The relief of those working in the industry was evident. It appeared that the Bill was not to be followed through after all—certainly not in this Session. Now it has been resurrected by the noble Lord; and the anxieties of the tobacco industry workforce have also been resurrected. Tobacco workers are not demons. They are a normal, nonmilitant workforce, many of whom, ironically, do not smoke and who, as parents, support actions to curb under-age smoking.
As we have heard, there are different views about whether or not the banning of advertisements would actually lead to a reduction in the number of smokers. Some have said that rather than advertisements, other means, such as peer-group pressure, are more persuasive, especially among the young. But as we have heard from many noble Lords, others argue that there would not be so much spent on advertisements if they were not effective and that the ban will reduce the number of those who smoke in the UK. If that is true, and I believe that it is, those working in the industry are right to voice their fears.
1689 There are currently between 10,000 and 11,000 workers working directly in the tobacco industry. Additionally, of course, there are all those who indirectly rely on the industry for work; for example, those who make the filter tips, as well as print workers and shopkeepers. Tobacco industry jobs tend to be concentrated in areas of the UK in which there is already high unemployment; for example, Derby, Nottingham, Peterlee, Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool, Southampton, Northern Ireland—Belfast in particular—and Darlington. Manufacturing jobs have already been lost in those areas during recent decades. If tobacco jobs are also lost, there will be few alternatives for those made redundant, and the knock-on effect on the local economy will be evident.
What sort of jobs are we discussing? We are talking about higher paid, skilled jobs, thanks to the trade unions that organise in the tobacco sector. Here I declare an interest as a former national official of the Manufacturing, Science and Finance union, which is one of the trade unions organising in the tobacco industry. The Tobacco Workers Union organised in the industry for almost 170 years—since 1834—and the industry is almost 100 per cent organised. Over the years, the workers have enjoyed good working terms and conditions.
Against such a background, it is little wonder that the workers and their representatives fear job losses. Of course, in an ideal world with full employment, no action would be needed to assist workers to change jobs, but our world is not ideal.
If the Bill is passed, what action can be taken to alleviate any detrimental effects on those working in the tobacco industry? Consideration must be given to alternative employment and diversification. I do not accept—as some employers in the tobacco industry have told me—that the tobacco industry,does not lend itself to diversification".After all, factories are only bricks and mortar. If the Bill is passed, I hope that the Government will consider assistance to diversify, for the sake of all those in the areas where tobacco factories are located. Further, I hope that consideration will be given to assisting the retraining of workers who lose their jobs.
Above all, I hope that, via this Bill, a decision will be taken once and for all about tobacco advertising and promotion—sooner rather than later—so that we all know what the future holds for those working in the tobacco industry. To paraphrase, please, let us not forget the workers.
§ 2.42 p.m.
§ Lord Monson
My Lords, I suppose that I should declare a technical non-financial interest in that I am a supporter of the Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco, although I have not liaised with it at all about the Bill.
Yet again, I seem to have drawn the second shortest straw in that within the space of 18 hours I am again the penultimate speaker in a long debate. The many speakers today, together with the officers and the staff, 1690 all want to get away well before the Friday rush hour. Accordingly, it seems both inconsiderate and rather pointless to deploy all over again the arguments that I advanced on the Second Reading of the previous Bill seven and a half months ago—many of which have in any case been expressed by other speakers today.
However, one argument bears repetition, because it demonstrates the unintended and counter-productive consequences of the Bill. If tobacco manufacturers cannot compete on quality, presentation and, in relative terms, safety—competition that must be backed up by advertising to be effective—they will compete on price, which needs no advertising. Cheap—again, using the word in a relative sense—cigarettes are likely to contain coarse, higher tar tobacco, more loosely packed, and so burning hotter, and the filters are likely to be cruder and less effective. In a nutshell, they are likely to constitute a higher health risk than the better quality cigarettes that they will displace. In other words, rather than a health gain, there will be the opposite; while, as the noble Baroness, Lady Gibson of Market Rasen, so effectively pointed out, jobs in Britain will be lost. I think that answers the point made by the noble Viscount, Lord Simon.
The question is: why have the Liberal Democrats introduced this Bill? The fact that it is a highly illiberal measure may be par for the course for the present-day Liberals, but why have they introduced it when clearly the Government have had second thoughts about doing so? That point was also raised by the noble Earl, Lord Liverpool.
Auberon Waugh used to point out that the phrase "protection of minors", which has been adduced in the debate, was designed to stop all argument in its tracks. The difficulty here is that the Liberal Democrats fully support the Home Secretary's decision to reclassify cannabis and in a sense de facto to decriminalise it. As a consequence, more young people will experiment with it, even though it is between four and 17 times more carcinogenic than tobacco, depending on which scientific survey one accepts. Surely, it would be better to decriminalise it completely, make it a government monopoly, tax it at least as heavily as, and probably a good deal more than, tobacco and impose a total ban on sales to those under 18.
Another significant inconsistency springs to mind. Unlike Labour Peers, the one Green Peer, the Bishops, Cross-Bench Peers and Conservative Peers, the Liberal Democrats voted unanimously against the compromise amendment, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Young, to the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill on 13th November 2000. That would have protected 16 and 17 year-old boys and girls from being sodomised, while permitting other less dangerous sexual behaviour, even though the noble Lord, Lord McColl, with his great medical expertise, informed the House that statistically people who were regularly sodomised were twice as likely to die prematurely as those who smoked 20 cigarettes a day.
Unlike every other party, I understand that the Liberal Democrats were not allowed a free vote on the matter, presumably on the grounds that to try to 1691 protect young people from serious harm to their long term health was inconsistent with liberalism. If that is so, are they not being more than a little inconsistent in promoting this illiberal Bill, whether or not, as the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, questioned, it violates the European Convention on Human Rights?
§ 2.47 p.m.
§ Baroness; Jay of Paddington
My Lords, following the noble Lord, Lord Monson, perhaps I should say that I have drawn the shortest straw of all. However, from my perspective this is a rather good position to occupy. On my instant calculation, of the 20 Members of the House who have spoken so far I am the 15th genuinely to welcome the reintroduction of the Bill. I believe that that is a slightly different balance from that which existed at the Second Reading debate seven months ago. It underlines the enormous importance and potency of this particular topic. I am delighted that the subject is raised today because it is important that matters of great domestic interest and social policy should not slip down the political agenda at times of international crises. Although there is now enormous pressure on the business of the House and Parliament, it is important that these matters are still seen to be before us.
I have no intention in supporting the Bill and the initiative of the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, to embarrass either my noble friend Lord Hunt or the Government as a whole. To do so would in a sense embarrass myself. As the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, pointed out, as Opposition spokesperson on health in this House in the early and mid-1990s and as Minister following the 1997 election, I vigorously promoted the policy to ban tobacco advertising, as did my noble friend Lady Hayman who has been in her place for most of the debate.
I have not been an active participant in the health debate on this issue since 1998, but this week I looked at both the speeches and Answers which my noble friend Lady Hayman and I gave over a period of five or six years in your Lordships' House. They were in almost exactly the same terms as the speech of my noble friend Lord Hunt at Second Reading of the original Bill in March of this year, and exactly the same as what perhaps can only be described as the cover version of that speech which the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, gave earlier today. The Government's policy has not changed on the matter. They have been consistent throughout. I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Liverpool, that their position has been consistent. I am sure that it will remain so.
I was proud to be a member of the ministerial team at the Department of Health which produced the landmark White Paper—it was a landmark White Paper—entitled Smoking Kills. That White Paper fundamentally emphasised the basic point that any effective tobacco control programme has to be broadly based and broadly placed across the whole spectrum of interest. It must include education, tax policy and many of the support therapies mentioned today, ranging from hypnosis to nicotine replacement. However, it must also include an advertising ban. 1692 Therefore, the Bill represents what I suppose one would call just one leg, or perhaps even half a leg, of a comprehensive policy. It is an important part of that comprehensive strategy. No one has ever argued—I have certainly never heard it argued in this House—that banning advertising and promotion will be a panacea or a total solution to the smoking problem.
The tobacco companies—we have heard this referred to many times in the course of today's debate—protest that the effect of advertising is negligible and, in so far as it has an effect, only "helps" consumers to change or choose brands. My initial response to that assertion remains the same as it always has been—it is a point that has been made today—particularly in view of the quoted figure of £130 million a year being spent by the tobacco companies on advertising. My response is that if these successful commercial organisations do this in the knowledge that its effect is negligible in their understanding, then they are extremely misguided in their business decisions. It is quite extraordinary that they should be so profligate with their shareholders' money if they regard spending £130 million as a business failure.
Today I wanted to re-emphasise two things to which attention has been drawn by other speakers. They are important areas where I feel, and have felt for many years, that the evidence is clear that advertising is increasing the market for tobacco and therefore increasing the number of people who are putting their health at risk by starting to smoke.
If your Lordships will forgive me, I shall mention again the global problem and particularly the problem of the developing world. If one looks as the emerging markets beyond the United Kingdom, those are the ones where the tobacco manufacturers are ruthlessly seeking to exploit the changes. Obviously, that is beyond the scope of the Bill. However, it is worth reminding the House, as did the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and my noble friend Baroness Massey, of the scale of the problem.
Obviously, noble Lords have referred several times in their contributions to the fact that probably 120,000 people in this country die needlessly, or without necessity, from tobacco during the course of any year. We all know that among adults in this country, particularly informed and educated adults, there has been some small but, none the less, effective decline in smoking. However, if the tobacco companies are to survive they need to expand and to bring smokers into the market. They need to find what would be called in marketing terms "replacement customers". Here there is this enormous effort in the developing world to make sure that more adults join the market.
I was impressed by a recently published World Bank report. It emphasised the global, as opposed to the UK-based, nature of the problem. It said:Tobacco is expected to kill 10 million people worldwide by the third decade of the next century. More than 71) percent of these deaths will be in the developing world".It pointed out:Tobacco will thus kill more people than malaria. maternal and childhood conditions, and tuberculosis combined".1693 In the policy area it stated:Governments of most developing countries are unprepared to deal with increases in tobacco deaths, including the impact on health systems and health costs".This means that tobacco is now the most strongly growing and only cause of death beyond things like those diseases which I have mentioned, which are coming more under control, except for HIV and AIDS. It is an extraordinary fact of the global health situation that HIV and AIDS and tobacco should be the most rapidly growing threat to the health of the global population.
Although it may seem tangential to the specific arguments on the Bill, I feel strongly that, if this legislation is passed and even though it is a measure directed only at the UK market, this country will be sending a strong message consistent with many of our development and anti-poverty programmes that we intend to take a lead in the worldwide battle against the human suffering of smoking-related deaths in the same way as we have addressed the issues of AIDS and HIV prevention.
At home, the emerging market that is most affected by advertising is, quite literally, that of children and young people. My noble friends Lady Massey and Lady Gale have detailed the problem in important ways. I do not think that it is necessary for me to go over the ground again, but one aspect which perhaps has not been mentioned but is worth emphasising is that in Britain we know that three out of four children under the age of five are aware of cigarettes and smoking, whether or not their parents smoke. I do not think that anyone can successfully argue that outside influences do not play a role in such early awareness.
A great deal of discussion has centred on smoking among teenagers, a point most movingly and impressively developed by the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff, in her maiden speech. As Minister for Women, I was always concerned about the particular influence of tobacco advertising on young girls. We know that, among that age group, smoking is often perceived as practically a social prop or even a fashion accessory. However, as has been mentioned, medical evidence shows that boys and girls in this age group—although unfortunately girls appear to be more susceptible—can readily become nicotine dependent. I understand that 72 per cent of those in the 11–16 age group who smoke regularly already report that they would find it difficult to give up the habit. We have a particular responsibility towards this age group to ensure that everything possible is done to use an effective leg of our tobacco control policy—that of banning advertising—to break the link between the promotion of cigarettes and the decisions of young people to start smoking.
I am well aware that the tobacco manufacturers have talked about offering voluntary self-denial through restricting their advertising aimed at young 1694 people. Several noble Lords have outlined the lack of success of policies of self-imposed restraint and voluntary codes. I must say that I too am entirely sceptical about this approach, based largely on my parental experience. A ban on smoking promotion which seeks to exclude one age group suggests almost an anti-marketing campaign which I should have thought would be likely to make susceptible teenagers even more excited. By its nature, they would wish to become involved in something exclusive rather than the other way around.
As I say, that is a somewhat anecdotal conclusion based on my personal experience. However, only yesterday I read the new, authoritative pronouncements from the World Health Organisation on voluntary advertising bans. In a completely uncompromising statement, the WHO states that tobacco company policies of self-regulation do not work. It says:Voluntary codes of advertising were first adopted—and found wanting—by the United States. Canada and [the] United Kingdom. WHO says no country has succeeded in designing regulations that eliminate children's exposure to tobacco advertising while allowing advertising aimed at adult smokers".The statement concludes by saying that the WHO will be,calling on law-makers around the world to take action against advertising of tobacco and tobacco products".As law makers in this country, we now have the opportunity to support the global effort which the WHO has again emphasised this week, and pass this Bill. My concluding hope and plea to my noble friend on the Front Bench is that, as the measure being promoted by the noble Lord, Clement-Jones, makes progress through Parliament, the Government will in effect repossess it and take steps, and actively take steps, to promote its passage.
§ 3 p.m.
§ Baroness Northover
My Lords, this has been an excellent debate. From these Benches, we welcome the fact that there has been overwhelming support for the Bill. I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, on her wonderful maiden speech. For me, what she said completely epitomised what this is all about. She gave us much evidence from a wealth of academic research, not only of the enormous damage caused by smoking but of the likely benefits of banning advertising. Above and beyond that, she conveyed, very movingly, that this is no dry academic area. This is about people; this is about children.
We have heard already that 3,000 lives per year would be saved if tobacco advertising were banned. As my noble friend Lord Rennard pointed out, the brands that are most heavily advertised are the brands that children smoke most heavily. We know how susceptible they are to advertising—the right brand of trainers—do I not know it—the right clothes, the right brand of cigarettes.
Three thousand lives a year, as we have heard, is the equivalent of all road traffic casualties. It is also the equivalent of three large secondary schools. That 1695 means that for every week we delay, we condemn the equivalent of two classes of children each week to premature illness and death.For the sake of the children who will be tomorrow's victims of lung cancer, heart disease and other diseases, I commend the Bill",said Yvette Cooper.We will act to protect children; we will act to reduce smoking; we will act to save lives",said Alan Milburn. We agree.
Perhaps it is time that I declared an interest. My interest is that I have children aged eight, 10 and 12. My 10 year-old in particular watches smokers with very close interest. He cannot quite square their activity with what he hears—and perhaps knows—of their potential fate. But ask him for the brand names of cigarettes, and, quick as a flash, he rattles off all the most highly promoted brands. He is the child that I caught heading upstairs with a lettuce leaf wrapped in a piece of coloured paper-his own version of a cigarette—and, of course, a box of matches.
It will be difficult enough to prevent his experimentation, even without the insidious effect of advertising. It is deeply embedded in all his favourite sports.
It is to protect Joe and children like him that this Bill is being reintroduced. As we have heard, this was the Government's own, carefully considered, Bill, which had gone through all its stages in the other place.
It was Joe himself who pointed out to me last night, when he saw and approved of what I was doing, that it was Christopher Columbus who provided the first account of what would become a global habit. The Indians, Columbus reported—Joe is doing explorers at the moment—strolled along with,a firebrand in the hand and herbs, to drink the smoke thereof'.So what questions should we be asking of this global habit? It took a great deal of struggle in the 20th-century to prove the harm that tobacco caused, long after the companies knew that fact. In the end, Sir Richard Doll, of course, finally, categorically, emphatically put paid to their arguments. It is striking to me that not a single speaker today has denied this. That is a significant change. We have heard of the damage that smoking causes from many speakers today, including, very cogently, from the noble Baroness, Lady Gale, the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and my noble friends Lord Clement-Jones, Lord Addington and Lord Rennard.
There is enough incentive to take up the habit. As the noble Lord, Lord Mitchell, put it, simply seeking to be cool and grown-up is enough of an incentive to many children. Just think of Kevin and Perry. We also now know, from studies at the Maudsley hospital and elsewhere, that for some children it may literally take no more than a couple of cigarettes for them to become addicted. Children absolutely know, or believe they know—like, so sadly, John Diamond at that age believed and knew—that they will not be affected. Old age, illness and death has nothing to do with the young, does it? So do we do our best to protect children? We surely do.
1696 What arguments have been set against the overwhelming feeling in this Chamber today that the Bill should progress? The noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, argued that this was an inappropriately wide and complex area for a Private Member's Bill. My noble friend Lord Clement-Jones has never been one to shy away from challenges. But he is assisted by the fact that this is the Government's own Bill, unamended by us, having coming from another place. We welcome the support: that we have received from the Government Benches, including that of the former Leader of the House, the noble Baroness, Lady Jay, in a wide-ranging and powerful speech.
Secondly, there is the argument that the advent of the Internet makes matters too complex. But that should be set against the powerful speech of the noble Lord, Lord Mitchell, who has much experience in this area. He said that we must make sure that Internet service providers play their part. We must not, as he put it, listen to their whingeing and whining.
Thirdly, there are issues coming down the track from Europe and from the tobacco companies. Does that mean that we should take no action yet? But I see those secondary school classes falling two at a time each week that we delay. The noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, stated cogently why voluntary agreements are not the route to go down. As he pointed out, the Commons Health Select Committee concluded:Voluntary agreements have served the industry well and the public badly".Fourthly, we have heard that the measure is too draconian; that it is too interventionist; that it interferes too much with a legitimate commercial activity. The noble Lord, Lord Naseby, the noble Earl, Lord Liverpool, and the noble Lord, Lord Monson, were among those who made that case. But again see those 3,000 kids a year who will die if no action is taken. My noble friend Lord Rennard put it most effectively: how should we view this if it were air crash after air crash, day after day? Society must indeed balance rights and responsibilities, liberties and justice, as the Human Rights Act makes extremely clear.
I noted, as did the noble Baroness, Lady Jay, that yesterday the World Health Organisation called upon legislators around the world to take action against the advertising of tobacco and tobacco products in order to protect the health of the young and the old, smokers and non-smokers alike. Perhaps this may be the first Parliament to respond to that call.
The call comes ahead of talks between 191 countries meeting in Geneva later this month to negotiate global rules for tobacco control. As Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, the director-general of the World Health Organisation, put it,tobacco addiction is a communicated disease—communicated through advertising, promotion and sponsorship".The WHO warns that tobacco companies are embarking on a massive global public relations bid to woo governments away from negotiating strong agreements in this area. A World Bank/WHO study is 1697 very clear that interventions such as comprehensive bans on advertising and price increases are what actually make a difference.
On a global scale, in 1999 the WHO estimated that tobacco killed 4 million people a year. I remember Sir Richard Peto pointing out to me in Brighton this year that I billion people will die from tobacco use in this century if no action is taken. It is a startling figure.
In the 19th century, it was public health measures such as improvements in sanitation that made the difference in terms of the length and quality of people's lives. In the 20th century, though less marked, antibiotics and the introduction of other treatments made a difference. If there was one public health measure that we could take in this century that would make a difference to people's lives, it would be to reduce smoking and the disease, death, despair and devastation caused by smoking. The Bill is one measure in the right direction.
I welcome the fact that we have support from all sides of the House as we seek to place this measure on the statute book where it belongs.
§ 3.10 p.m.
§ Earl Howe
My Lords, it is little more than seven months since your Lordships debated this Bill—or rather a Bill identical to this one—at the tail end of the previous Parliament. I dare say that most, if not all, of us expected that we would be asked by the Government to consider it afresh in the event of a Labour victory at the general election. How wrong we were! I do not think anyone could have predicted that when this measure came before us a second time, it would not be as a government Bill. Indeed, I still find it extraordinary, even knowing as I do how fierce is the competition between departments for legislative time, that this Bill should not have been regarded by Ministers as being of high enough priority to warrant an early slot in the parliamentary programme. It was, after all, a manifesto commitment in 1997 as well as 2001. By failing to bring the Bill back, the Government have sent out some peculiar messages about their attitude to tobacco and tobacco advertising. We suddenly find ourselves wondering whether they were really quite so convinced as they once seemed by the arguments in favour of an advertising ban—arguments that were so eloquently deployed by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, on 28th March.
I am sure that the Minister will say that the Government are every bit as convinced about these issues as they were previously, but, unfortunately, that is not the message conveyed by their actions. While we are about it, there are other mixed messages emanating from Whitehall at the moment. What government, serious about the health risks of smoking, would, within a few weeks of dropping this Bill, announce a weakening of the legal sanctions for possession of cannabis—a substance, as we have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Monson, that when smoked is even more carcinogenic than tobacco? What sort of government, having decided to increase total health 1698 spending by many billions, would actually cut the antismoking budget that they announced only three years ago at the time of their White Paper? Those are decidedly odd messages to send out and those are the reasons why the Bill before us today is a huge embarrassment to the Government. One cannot get away from that.
So it is with that preamble that I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, on obliging the Government to listen to their own words being read back at them and to put into practice what they preached to us all so very recently. My own attitude to the Bill is simple; I am willing to be convinced by the arguments and by the facts. I approach them with a genuinely open mind and I certainly do not seek to oppose the Bill. Having said that, and having listened to the debate, I have to say that, thus far at least, the arguments in favour of the Bill are not as robust or secure as they would need to be for us on these Benches to give it our wholehearted support, much as some of us might wish to do so.
The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, has succinctly explained the reasons why he is committed to a ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship. I am grateful to him for that. As I said on an earlier occasion, the motives behind this Bill are entirely honourable. Tobacco is a unique product. It is the only legally marketable product which, even when used as the manufacturer intends, carries a high risk of death. I am not sure that I can think of any other product that can be classified in that way. Smoking kills large numbers of people every year. It is directly responsible for a large amount of ill health which imposes a heavy burden on the economy and the public purse. Unlike some noble Lords, I am prepared to sacrifice a measure of personal liberty to bring about a reduction in those deaths and burdens.
Successive governments have implemented a range of policies designed to deter people from smoking, especially young people. The anti-smoking strategy adopted by the previous Conservative government has been rather derided in the debate today, but it represented a significant step-change in government action. It imposed much tighter restrictions on tobacco companies, including advertising constraints, albeit by means of voluntary arrangements.
The premise of the Bill is that those voluntary arrangements are not working sufficiently well. The take-up of cigarettes by young people, particularly by teenage girls, is rising. Why? The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, believes that advertising has been one of the major causes. We learn from the briefing material circulated by ASH that cigarette advertisements portraying smoking as an adult activity to be aspired to are exactly the kind of imagery that appeals to the young. In other words, says ASH, it is no good just removing tobacco advertisements from the vicinity of schools and directing tobacco marketing towards adult consumers, because that strategy in itself makes cigarettes attractive to young people. Therefore, says ASH, the only way to stem the 1699 recruitment of new young smokers is to ban tobacco advertising. The Health Select Committee in the other place accepted that view.
I do not in the least dismiss the arguments so well expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, in her superb maiden speech, but it is by no means clear from the available evidence that advertising per se has a great deal I o do with the rise in teenage smoking. For example, the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys pointed to a number of other much more important factors. It reported that the characteristics most likely to be found among children who smoke compared with those who do not are: being of female gender—girls smoke more than boys; having brothers or sisters who smoke; having parents who smoke; living with a single parent; not intending to stay in full-time education after six years; and having relatively few negative views about smoking. The influence of advertising on smoking uptake was found not to be significant.
It is always possible—I do not know—that those smokers who took part in that survey failed to appreciate the extent to which advertising influenced their behaviour, but it is interesting that such an authoritative survey did not corroborate the key element of the hypothesis. We are left with the nagging feeling that the apparently self-evident causal relationship between advertising and teenage smoking is more an article of faith than a matter of strict proof.
I do not necessarily mind articles of faith, but I am not sure that they are the best possible basis for making new law. I prefer hard numerical evidence. But even by the Government's own admission, hard numerical evidence is difficult to come by. When the Bill was before us previously, I told the Minister that at least we should build in a sunset clause so that we could see, after a number of years, whether the Bill had achieved the desired effect of reducing smoking prevalence. "Oh no'', came the answer, "with the best will in the world, it would be impossible to determine the effect of an advertising ban as distinct from the effect of other influences, which may be positive or negative". If that is so, we need to question whether any of the previous studies into these matters has been able to give us a reliable idea of what tobacco advertising, or the absence of it, actually achieves.
Many of the major research studies have been referred to today. Like it or not, the arguments from research in favour of a ban are by no means all one way. The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, mentioned the Smee report. It is an important piece of work, but it has notable weaknesses. There is rather too much, "On the one hand this, but on the other hand that", in it. In 1996, the KPMG review came to the unequivocal conclusion that tobacco advertising bans do nothing to reduce tobacco consumption. When all is said and done, we fall back on the argument of theory, which is that if tobacco advertising increases cigarette consumption, as people believe that it must, the absence of advertising must necessarily reduce consumption.
1700 One argument above all casts doubt on that theory. That argument was articulated clearly by my noble friend Lord Liverpool. If we decide to prevent tobacco companies competing with one another by means of advertising, we shall force them to compete in the only other way open to them—on price. Competition by price is reckoned to be a far more powerful lever on consumption than tobacco advertising. If the average price of tobacco falls, then, as sure as night follows day, consumption will rise.
I return to the subject of influences on young people. From our own experience, we know that the two big drivers on young people to take up smoking are peer pressure and the availability of cigarettes. As my noble friend Lord Oxfuird emphasised, the availability of cheap, smuggled cigarettes has been far and away the biggest influence on smoking prevalence over the past three or four years.
Until 1997, successive Chancellors judged the level of tobacco duty just about right. But then, in 1997, Gordon Brown over-cooked it. Before he knew what was happening, the Chancellor found that the Treasury's yield from tobacco duty was getting smaller. That was not because fewer people were smoking but because the risk/reward ratio from bootlegging had become irresistible to criminals. The illicit importation of smuggled cigarettes has become a mass epidemic. We are now in a situation where nearly a quarter of all cigarettes smoked in the UK are imported illicitly. That is the reason why smoking prevalence has been rising. It is not due to a change in the advertising code, because there has not been a change.
To their credit, if belatedly, the Government now seem to be taking the problem of smuggling seriously, and Customs and Excise recently had some success in intercepting large consignments of bootlegged cigarettes. But the point that concerns me in the context of the debate is this: even supposing that the authorities were to achieve total success in eliminating cigarette smuggling, the effect of the Bill could be exactly analogous to the Chancellor's over-egging of tobacco duty. We shall see competition by price. The premium brands of cigarettes will lose market share to much cheaper brands, legitimately imported from abroad, and total consumption of tobacco will rise.
I have yet to hear anyone refute that argument convincingly. It is the main reason why I fear that the Bill, for all its good intentions, may serve to bring about exactly the opposite result to the one for which it aims. At best, as I said on the previous occasion, it is little better than window-dressing.
Perhaps I may end by picking up one or two of the more important points of detail that have been raised in the debate. I should like to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, whether he is satisfied that there will be no conflict between this Bill and the European tobacco advertising directive, currently in draft. I should like to hear, in advance of our Committee stage, what his answer is to the concerns that have been raised about the reversal of the burden of proof for those accused of publishing, printing or 1701 distributing a tobacco advertisement. I should like to hear whether he is open to argument on Clause 5(5), which appears to introduce legal uncertainty for Internet service providers. I should also like to hear whether he is satisfied that the provisions in Clause 11 relating to brand-sharing are fair and, if so, why.
Those are only some of the issues that we shall wish to pick up in later stages. For now, the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, has my sympathy for being the man in the firing line on a Bill that is not of his own drafting and, what is more, for doing so without the support of officials. He is a brave man. I should not describe him as "frail"; and if anyone is up to it, he certainly is. In any event, I am not sure that we should be too sympathetic towards him because, after all, he has taken on the task entirely of his own volition. Nevertheless, I wish the noble Lord well in his endeavours to enlighten us all both today and, as our debates proceed, over the weeks ahead.
§ 3.24 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath)
My Lords, I begin by remarking on the quality of the speeches that have been made—they have been of a good order. I also congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff, on what I am sure all noble Lords agree was a splendid maiden speech.
I join the noble Earl, Lord Howe, in expressing my best wishes to the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, whom I congratulate on his initiative. His mastery of drafting is most commendable, and I found his arguments wholly persuasive.
The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, began his introductory remarks by referring to the view of the Royal College of Physicians. It stated that:Smoking is now recognised as the single largest avoidable cause of premature death and disability in Britain".As the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, pointed out, it is striking that not one Member of this House argued with that proposition.
I say to the noble Earl, Lord Howe, that no mixed messages are emanating from the Government. As my noble friend Lady Jay pointed out, we laid down, right from the start of this Government, a strong commitment to reduce smoking in this country. That is why we commissioned the White Paper, Smoking Kills, and set targets to reduce smoking. That is why we are the only country in the world to have established a national network of comprehensive smoking cessation services. That is why we have launched a comprehensive tobacco education campaign and a helpline. And that is why the UK is taking a leading role in negotiations towards the World Health Organisation's framework convention on tobacco control.
I agree with my noble friend Lady Jay, who said that the Government's action has sent a strong message internationally. That is particularly the case with regard to the problems that she specified relating to the developing world.
1702 The Government are committed to implementing a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising and promotion. The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, set out some of the evidence that leads us to believe that such a ban is likely to lead to a fall in consumption and to save lives. There is clear evidence of a link between tobacco consumption and advertising. Public health will benefit from the comprehensive ban that is proposed in the Bill.
It is accepted that quantification of the effects of such a ban is not an exact science but we were right, when the Bill was first debated in your Lordships' House, to estimate that the provisions, if enacted, would lead to a reduction of about 2.5 per cent in smoking prevalence and, in the longer term, to a similar fall in tobacco-related deaths, which would save some 3,000 lives a year. The World Bank study, which showed a potential 6.7 per cent reduction in smoking prevalence, is powerful evidence. I noted the noble Earl's scepticism about the Smee report, but that report concluded that the preponderance of positive results indicates that advertising has a positive effect on consumption.
Several noble Lords discussed government legislation. During the final Session of the previous Parliament we introduced the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill. That completed all of its stages in another place and was given a Second Reading in your Lordships' House. As we know, that Bill ran out of time.
My party's 2001 manifesto contained a pledge to reintroduce the Bill but we were unable to include it in the Queen's Speech. Inevitably, governments need to take difficult decisions about what is contained in their legislative programme. However, the manifesto pledge is for the lifetime of the Parliament. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister made it clear that Ministers would monitor any developments in the current parliamentary Session to seek the earliest opportunity to introduce the Bill. The fact that the Bill replicates the words of the government Bill that was introduced during the previous Parliament means that we support its aims and principles, and we wish it well.
My noble friend Lady Gale and the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, raised several important matters and discussed the effect on babies, infants and young people. I agree with that. What is striking in the statistics is the variation in smoking among different social groups in our country. That is why our smoking cessation services have proved so successful. It is important to recognise that they are very much focused on parts of the country where smoking cessation can have a large impact on those variations. I particularly mention health action zones where we have placed emphasis on developing smoking cessation services. I also say to my noble friend Lady Massey in relation to initiatives taken alongside legislation on tobacco advertising that I agree we have to be proactive in relation to young children.
This week I launched five films produced by teenagers about smoking which will be shown in November on Trouble TV, a youth channel, and will 1703 then be made available to schools and other outlets such as cinemas. We need to build on that because nothing is more effective than young people talking to one another as opposed to adults talking down to young people.
I agree with my noble friend Lady Gale about the issue of under-age smokers and the lack of convictions. She will know that the Government have encouraged proof of age cards. In Essex, this has been very successful. We are also encouraging local authorities towards better and more consistent enforcement.
The noble Lord, Lord Naseby, is not in his place but he raised the issue of making tobacco illegal. If the Food Standards Agency and Medicines Control Agency had existed at the time of Sir Walter Raleigh, tobacco use might indeed now be illegal. But we are where we are. It would not be practical to make it illegal when over 10 million British adults still smoke. Most wish to give up but cannot because of the product's addictive qualities.
I would point out to the noble Earl, Lord Howe, that after the change in the government proposal, possession of cannabis will still be a criminal offence, as is required by international law.
The noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, referred to himself as being a pariah of society as a continuing smoker. That is not the intention of the Government. The answer to smoking is not to demonise smokers, but to educate them and provide the service and support to help them give up, if they wish to avail themselves of such support.
§ Lord Skelmersdale
My Lords, the Minister tempts me. Does he not realise that there is a difference between intention and effect?
§ Lord Hunt of Kings Heath
My Lords, of course. But I do not believe there is anything in the action the Government have taken which would demonise smoking. Our emphasis has been on providing health information to people who wish to receive it. If we look at the last full year of smoking cessation services, 62,000 people quit after four weeks. That shows that can be an important route to take, alongside other legislative actions.
My noble friend, Lord Haskel, thought we should go much further. The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, may wish to respond to that. He is correct. I am a Minister concerned with better regulation. The regulations in the Bill provide a balanced and proportionate approach. That surely is what business requires.
On voluntary agreements, I say to the noble Earl, Lord Howe, in respect of the statement by the three largest tobacco companies, that voluntarily adopting worldwide standards that make it clear that tobacco advertisements should not be aimed at youth or suggest that smoking enhances sporting, social, sexual or professional success will be ineffective. Apart from the fact, already mentioned by a number of noble Lords, that young people are attracted to advertising not meant for them, it is not realistic to try to set up 1704 Chinese walls for under and over-18s. For instance, it was suggested that tobacco companies only use billboards not less than 100 metres from a school. But the fact is that teenagers go further afield than 100 metres from a school. There was also the proposal only to sponsor events where adults are likely to comprise more than 75 per cent of the audience. At a large event the remaining 25 per cent could contain several thousand young people. When we analyse the voluntary options before us, we realise that they are simply not tenable.
The noble Earl, Lord Liverpool, raised the issue of alcohol. Tobacco is always dangerous; alcohol is only dangerous if it is misused. There is a fundamental difference between the way in which we treat tobacco and the way in which we treat alcohol.
I noted with interest the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, in relation to the Internet. First, I share the concerns of my noble friend Lord Mitchell to ensure consistency of approach; that is absolutely right. I understand the concerns of the Internet service providers. I have met them. The Government would look sympathetically at amendments which might be seen to deal with specific problems they encounter.
In relation to the technical standards directive, I am advised that, since the Bill covers advertising rather than technical specifications relating to goods, it is not notifiable in its entirety. However, where the Bill would affect specifications applicable to goods, such as the brand-sharing provisions, the Bill provides for regulations to be made which could be notified under the technical standards directive following due consultation. But that would be without affecting the timing of the introduction of other measures.
A number of noble Lords mentioned the question of freedom of speech. I am satisfied that Article 10 of the Convention on Human Rights provides a right to freedom of speech. But it goes on to provide that that right may be circumscribed for the protection of health. It is on that basis that the provisions of the Bill are compatible with the convention.
Smuggling was raised on a number of occasions in the debate. The noble Viscount, Lord Oxfuird, and the noble Earl, Lord Howe, raised it specifically. Of course there may be some link between levels of duty and smuggling, but it is very much at the white van man end, which accounts for a comparatively small part of the total smuggled market. A substantial proportion of the cigarettes smuggled into the UK come from parts of the world where duty is negligible. Bringing UK tobacco rates closer to those of other EU countries would have little effect on those smugglers. Indeed, many EU states, such as Italy and Spain, with relatively low taxes, suffer significant tobacco smuggling, indicating that even low tax rates do not protect against smuggling from countries where duty rates are even lower. Indeed, the Canadian experience was that tax reduction had little net effect on smuggling and for that reason the Canadians returned the tax rates to their original levels.
1705 I noted with interest the comments of my noble friend Lady Gibson as to the impact on employment. Our policy is to bring about a reduction in the consumption of tobacco products. One would expect that that could have a knock-on effect on the numbers employed in the industry.
It is worth making the point that there has been a long-term fall in employment in the industry from 40,000 in 1980 to under 10,000 in 1998. That is at least as much due to automation as it is to falling demand. However, I recognise the concerns of my noble friend about the impact on tobacco trade employees. I listened with a great deal of interest to her remarks about diversification, alternative employment and retraining. I have a great deal of sympathy with such concerns.
The noble Earl, Lord Howe, asked the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, about the issue of reversal of the burden of proof. I have no doubt that he will wish to respond to that. However, perhaps I may say to the noble Earl that I have discovered at least 10 examples from the period of the last Conservative government where a reversal of the burden of proof was used in legislation.
This is a comprehensive Bill. Indeed, as our newest Nobel Laureate for Medicine, Sir Paul Nurse, said in a recent letter to the Secretary of State:Smoking is responsible for one-third of all cancer deaths and contributes to the health inequalities between rich and poor in the United Kingdom. Banning tobacco advertising can only have a positive impact on public health and would assist the Government in meeting its cancer plan targets".The Government support the aims of the Bill and trust that the House will give it a fair passage.
§ 3.41 p.m.
§ Lord Clement-Jones
My Lords, we have had an excellent debate. I particularly enjoyed seeing the Minister manfully trying to defend the Government in their completely indefensible failure to bring forward a tobacco advertising and sponsorship Bill in this parliamentary Session. However, I am extremely grateful to all noble Lords who have spoken today in support of the Bill. We have had some magnificent speeches. Perhaps I may mention the maiden speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, which was of rare quality. She went ably through the evidence for the link between smoking and ill health and the devastating effects of smoking. I was reassured by the fact that she was clearly as moved by the contents of her own speech as the rest of us.
Many positive and powerful reasons have been put forward by noble Lords today in support of the Bill. Those are, principally, the serious health effects of smoking; the need to discourage people, especially young people, from starting to smoke; the need for an advertising ban to be part of a comprehensive strategy to tackle smoking; and, importantly, as put forward by the noble Baroness, Lady Jay, the absolute need to send a strong international message to other countries and to be part of that movement which will have an effect world-wide.
1706 I was interested to hear the remarks of the noble Earl, Lord Howe, in response to the Bill. I felt the embers of a slightly warmer approach to the Bill than perhaps there were on Second Reading of the government Bill. However, a number of arguments were put forward by your Lordships, particularly on the Conservative Benches, in opposition to the Bill. I shall briefly go through some of them.
The noble Lords, Lord Naseby and Lord Monson, effectively declared that this was a matter of freedom. As a long time civil libertarian, I have examined my conscience over the Bill. If I were not so mild-mannered I might resent the raising of this issue. No advertiser has unfettered freedom of speech. The existence of the British codes of advertising and sales promotion, administered by the ASA, recognise that. Furthermore, it is clear that Article 10 of the convention permits restrictions and limitations on the right of freedom of expression which pursue a legitimate aim and are proportionate. The protection of health is one such aim. The ban is proportionate. It will save at least 3,000 lives per year. It is consistent with the United Kingdom's international obligations to legislate in this area. Indeed, your Lordships will recall that the Bill was certified in its previous form as compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights last time around. I would be happy to remit it to the Human Rights Committee of both Houses if we really felt that there was an issue about whether it is compatible. As regards the matter of choice and freedom, my noble friend Lord Rennard dealt adequately with that matter.
What would have been very interesting is the argument of the tobacco industry that advertising does not increase consumption or encourage people to take up smoking, but it was barely mentioned today by opponents. The noble Lords, Lord Patel and Lord Mitchell, the noble Baroness, Lady Jay, and my noble friend Lady Northover made their views clear on that matter. It is interesting that the industry seems to have withdrawn from the field an argument that, frankly, none of us thought had any credence at all. I thought the noble Baroness, Lady Jay, hit the nail on the head when she described it as extraordinary, adding that if that was the case we should accuse the tobacco companies of being profligate with their shareholders' money; and, by the way, I liked the original as well.
We had some very powerful speeches on the effect of advertising on young people. There is no doubt in the minds of those who support the Bill that advertising and sponsorship is about adding aspiration and street credibility to smoking. I do not think that that can be an issue.
As to the assessment of the evidence, the Health Select Committee concluded that advertising agencies have connived in promoting tobacco consumption, have shamelessly exploited smoking as an aspirational pursuit in ways that inevitably make it more attractive to children and have attempted to use their creative talents to undermine government policy and evade regulation. That underlines the need for flexibility and shows in particular why Clause 7 of the Bill is 1707 important. As many of your Lordships have mentioned, young people are extraordinarily aware of advertising.
The argument that manufacturers believe it is wrong to ban the advertising of a legal product had a longer trot today. The argument is that tobacco is a legal product and therefore it should be legal to advertise it. The noble Lord, Lord Naseby, objected to comparisons with guns and pharmaceuticals. Along with tobacco, they are products which can be manufactured and sold legally subject to regulation. But they are also subject to advertising restrictions and not just restriction or regulation, but bans. There are restrictions also on advertising prescription drugs. The matter is on all fours in that respect. Moreover, as the noble Earl., Lord Howe, pointed out, tobacco is a unique product. It is the only consumer product which kills the user when used according to the manufacturer's instructions; so it should have a unique regulatory framework.
§ Lord Monson
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for giving way. Would the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, agree that there is no ban on advertising legally held guns?
§ Lord Clement-Jones
My Lords, I am not aware whether or not there is a ban on advertising legally held guns. Your Lordships will be aware that the analogy was placed both on pharmaceuticals and guns. There is an absolute ban on advertising pharmaceuticals subject to prescription.
I move on to the thin end of the wedge argument, which is closely allied to the legal product argument. The noble Earl, Lord Liverpool, said this was a dangerous precedent and that it would be alcohol next. Not as far as I am concerned. I should rephrase that: not as far as many members of my party are concerned. We know alcohol can be harmful when it is abused. Tobacco is always harmful. That is the distinction between the two.
I mention the brand-stretching or brandsharing argument because in a sense that may be a legal activity which is being restricted as part of this Bill. There is no intention to ban perfectly lawful corporate names, but brand-stretching is potentially one of the major loopholes in the marketing array available to tobacco manufacturers. The restrictions must be adequate to make sure that it is not used as a surrogate for advertising and sponsorship. If brands are distinct they are unlikely to be caught by the regulations on brandsharing, and the test is whether or not they promote a tobacco product. I am sure that we shall have many happy hours in Committee debating Clause 11. It is certainly not our intention to permit proper corporate advertising where the promotion of tobacco is not involved.
A further argument advanced by the manufacturers is that there is no evidence that a ban on advertising will be effective. That was put forward by the noble Viscount, Lord Oxfuird, the noble Earl, Lord Liverpool, and the noble Lord, Lord Naseby. I do not believe that I need go into great detail because the 1708 noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, and the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, put forward an abundance of evidence on the effectiveness of advertising. I am surprised that after a full debate lasting four hours, the noble Earl, Lord Howe, is not persuaded by the available evidence. The figures from Norway, Finland, New Zealand and France, to name but four countries, clearly demonstrate the case and also the fact that one of our leading firms of accountants did not get it right when it put together its report. The key is the breaking of the link between glamour and smoking for the young. I believe that the ban will be effective.
The noble Viscount, Lord Oxfuird, said that voluntary agreements were the way forward and that there was no need to change the present system. I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, and the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, in their comments about the tobacco industry documents revealed by the House of Commons Select Committee, gave the lie to that. The praying in aid of the WHO statement by the noble Baroness, Lady Jay, and my noble friend Lady Northover was crucial. Such voluntary marketing agreements are business as usual and the companies would be allowed to continue their relentless search for new customers. We did not hear too much said about the ending of tobacco sports sponsorship damaging sport. However, my noble friend Lord Addington clearly demonstrated that that was not the case.
I move on to a novel argument which we did not hear to any great extent during the previous canter around the course; that is, the European directive. The draft directive deals with cross-border matters and it does so precisely because of the legal action taken in the European Court of Justice. We have to deal with our own domestic situation. It is not a matter of the time being unripe. It is great to have available the excuse that something else is going through some other forum. But that does not apply in this case. The legislation contemplated here will be totally complementary to the European directive when it is available. I am afraid that that is the situation.
We had an interesting red herring. I mention it because so many noble Lords who spoke of the European directive also spoke about the criminal status of cannabis. I fail to see the connection. In that case we are talking about, the criminal status in terms of possession but in this case we are not talking about the possession of cigarettes being a criminal offence. However, it may be that the noble Lord, Lord. Haskel, has designs on that because he made a powerful case for a more draconian Bill than the one I am arguing for. I am afraid that the connection of moving tobacco to a class C drug escapes me, as does the argument about ecstasy.
Some interesting points were made about the Internet. The noble Lord, Lord Hunt, made his attitude and that of the Government perfectly plain. I appreciate what he said. We are in a fast moving situation as regards e-commerce. We have the e-commerce directive and we also have many other instruments; for instance, the Brussels and the Rome II conventions. All will have an impact on the content, jurisdiction and so forth of e-commerce. And of course 1709 our Internet service providers are concerned about the categories into which they fall; whether they are considered to be a pure channel or whether they are publishers in those circumstances. Further discussions may need to be held, but the Bill's objective is clear. We must ensure that in trying to solve some e-commerce issues we do not create further loopholes for tobacco companies.
We had a trailer of the burden of proof argument from the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath. In response to the noble Earl, Lord Howe, I point out that about 10 Acts of Parliament were passed by the previous Conservative government that provide a clear precedent for the reversal of the burden of proof. They include the Food Safety Act 1990, the Consumer Protection Act 1987, the Children Act 1989, the Human Embryology and Fertilisation Act 1990 and the Clean Air Act 1993. That is a fair catalogue of Acts reversing the burden of proof.
In a criminal prosecution, the prosecution must establish the guilt of the individual beyond reasonable doubt. That is a high standard of proof. That obligation means not only proving all the ingredients of the offence but negativing any defence. In effect, the defendant need only raise an arguable case for one of the defences—that he did not know—and the burden of proving the facts at issue is cast on the prosecution. In practice, if the defence can raise any doubt, when the totality of the evidence is considered, the court will not convict, as the prosecution will not have discharged its burden of proving the allegation beyond reasonable doubt. The wording of the defences in Clause 5 follows that used frequently in other criminal legislation, and therefore does not reverse the burden of proof.
The pricing argument was another interesting excursion. It involves what I would call the Gordon Brown factor. I can blame the Chancellor for many things, but the level of tobacco smuggling and consumption of tobacco cannot be laid at his door. Indeed, many of us support the action that the Chancellor has taken on tobacco duty during the past few years. Economists would have great difficulty demonstrating that the demand for tobacco products is as elastic as some noble Lords argued. The argument that lowering the price of tobacco will inevitably increase demand or create new entrants is by no means proven. The power of the brand and of aspiration is far higher. No one denies that smuggling is a major issue and that firm action should be taken on it, but that is not an argument against the benefit of the Bill.
1710 I turn to the sunset clause argument, which is that the evidence is so unclear that we ought to experiment a little in the Bill and include a sunset clause of three years, five years, or whatever. I agree with the weight of the argument in today's debate, which is that the burden of proof lies squarely on the Bill's opponents, in view of the achievable public health benefits. The evidence is that those benefits will accrue after some years. One uses a sunset clause only in the most extreme circumstances when there is considerable doubt about the benefits of a Bill.
Moving swiftly on to tobacco workers, I entirely endorse what the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, had to say. Of course, there has been an enormous level of anxiety. However, it would be disingenuous of me to pretend that the aim of the Bill is not a reduction in the volume of tobacco products being produced in this country—certainly for domestic consumption and, I would say, for international consumption. The companies involved are rich and powerful and can afford to ensure that their workers are properly protected and led into other avenues of employment. Of course, I endorse the need for adequate government regional policy and proper economic regeneration in the areas affected. I am sure that that is supported by all noble Lords on these Benches.
The reasons for taking up smoking may be multifactoral but, contrary to what the noble Earl, Lord Howe, said, we know that we can do something about advertising. It may be that we cannot do much about other factors which lead to the young taking up smoking. As the noble Lord, Lord Mitchell, said, this Bill is doing our bit. As my noble friend Lord Rennard said, this is something that we can do and today we must grasp it.
The noble Lord, Lord Haskel, made a magnificent case for a total ban, but I do not believe that in the current circumstances that would be proportionate. This Bill is not a witch hunt of smokers, the thin end of the wedge or draconian. The end certainly justifies the means. This Bill is an important step towards a key public health goal: the reduction of tobacco consumption and the death and disease which result from it.
I pay tribute to the work of all those organisations which have campaigned for the Bill, particularly Action on Smoking and Health. I very much hope that all your Lordships present, if not already persuaded, will in future give their strong support to the Bill.
On Question, Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.
§ House adjourned at two minutes past four o'clock.