§ 1.9 p.m.
§ Lord Faulkner of Worcester
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. I start by expressing my appreciation to noble Lords who have indicated their intention to take part in today's debate and by declaring an unpaid interest as a trustee of the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation.
The Bill is intended to protect employees and members of the public in England and Wales from the effects of second-hand smoke. Almost exactly 400 years ago, his late Majesty King James I of England and VI of Scotland issued a decree banning tobacco from his kingdom. He did so in these terms:Loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs and in the stinking fume thereof nearest resembling the horrific Stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless".This Bill does not quite do that because it is not an attempt to ban smoking. I believe in the liberal principle that we are all free to do as we choose, even if the behaviour we choose to indulge in causes us harm. But we should not forget that that principle comes at a very high price. In the case of smoking, 114,000 people die in the UK every year from smoking-related illnesses. That is a terrible toll of misery and destruction. If any smokers are encouraged to quit as a result of the Bill—there is good reason to believe that some will—I would of course be delighted.
Nevertheless, the liberal principle has clear limits. We are free to harm ourselves, but not to harm others, or as John Stuart Mill put it in his Essay on Liberty:Acts of whatever kind, which, without justifiable cause, do harm to others, may be, and in the more important cases absolutely require to be, controlled by the unfavourable sentiments, and, when needful, by the active interference of mankind. The liberty of the individual must be thus far limited; he must not make himself a nuisance to other people".514 I shall briefly go through the provisions of the Bill. Clause 1 makes it unlawful to smoke in enclosed public places other than in a designated smoking area or in a place that is exempted under Part 2 of the schedule to the Bill. Enclosed workplaces are defined as public places for the purposes of the Bill.
Clause 2 requires occupiers of public places to take reasonable steps to ensure compliance with Clause 1.
Clause 3 allows for smoking areas to be designated in enclosed public places.
Clause 4 gives employees protection from being required by their contracts of employment to work in a smoking area.
Clause 5 provides powers to make regulations. Such regulations may specify the requirements of smoking areas in public places, prohibit the designation of smoking areas in places specified in the regulations, require prescribed forms of consultation with employees on smoking and non-smoking areas and regulate signage, ventilation and air purification systems in public places. The clause gives the power to the Secretary of State in England and to the National Assembly in Wales to make regulations. Therefore, it encompasses the provisions of the Bill introduced by the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, which we shall debate later this afternoon.
Clause 6 makes it an offence to fail to comply with the requirements of the legislation.
Clause 7 gives the court the power to make orders to require occupants of public places to take specific steps to meet their duties under Clause 2.
Clause 8 gives local authorities the duty to enforce the legislation and to allow regulations to be made giving local authorities requisite powers to make such enforcement effective.
Clause 9 states that occupiers of public places cannot be prevented by any of the provisions of the Bill from prohibiting smoking throughout that place.
Clause 10 states that the Bill will bind the Crown and that Crown servants will be treated as employees for the purpose of legislation.
Clause 11 defines "public places" and other key terms in the Bill.
Clause 12 deals with the short title and commencement of the legislation and restricts its application to England and Wales only.
Part 1 of the schedule defines "public places" and Part 2 defines certain premises that are exempt from Clause 1 of the Bill.
The case for the Bill rests on the fact that smoking damages the health of third parties. That is a fact, whatever the tobacco industry and its allies may pretend. The scientific evidence on that point was confirmed by the Government's Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, in July 2003 as well as by the heads of all of Britain's 13 Royal Colleges of medicine and by the Scottish CMO, Dr Mac Armstrong, in April 2004.
The fact that cigarette smoke is bad for your health should be a surprise to no one. A non-smoker exposed to other people's cigarettes breathes sidestream smoke from the burning tip of the cigarette and mainstream smoke that 515 has been inhaled and exhaled by the smoker. Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, some of which have marked irritant properties and some 60 of which are known or suspected carcinogens—cancer causing substances.
Short-term exposure to second-hand smoke has a measurable effect on the heart in non-smokers. Thirty minutes' exposure is enough to reduce coronary blood flow. A recent Department of Health survey for England shows that people who are exposed to other people's tobacco smoke for six or more hours a week are 50 per cent more likely than those who are not so exposed to develop asthma symptoms and breathlessness, coughing and wheezing. The National Asthma Campaign states that one in five people with asthma are prevented from using parts of their workplace where people smoke because of cigarette and other tobacco fumes. My noble friend Lord Simon is one such person. I find it extraordinary, as I am sure do many other noble Lords, that we have not yet made the Palace of Westminster a smoke-free place of work.
The British Medical Association has stated that passive smoking causes at least 1,000 premature deaths in the UK every year. The true figure is probably higher. By comparison, the total number of fatal accidents at work from all causes in the UK in 2002–03 was reported by the Health and Safety Executive as 226.
I apologise for spending so much time stating what many noble Lords may well consider the obvious, but I am afraid that not all the participants in this debate are prepared to accept the scientific realities. Take British American Tobacco, for example, which, in its latest annual report, stated:there is no convincing evidence that environmental tobacco smoke exposure genuinely increases the risk of non-smokers developing lung cancer or heart disease".The tobacco industry spent 50 years covering up the evidence that smoking kills smokers and almost as long covering up the fact that nicotine is addictive. Now it is attempting to deny the truth that it harms non-smokers as well.
Many workplaces still permit smoking and they are generally in sectors with the highest levels of exposure and, therefore, the greatest health and safety risk. Many of them are operated by small firms and employ relatively low-paid staff. A survey published by ASH in April 1999 revealed that approximately 3 million people in the UK are still regularly exposed to second-hand smoke at work.
Workplace smoking is particularly common in the hospitality trades including restaurants, pubs and casinos. A recent compensation case involving casino worker, Mr Mickey Dunn, revealed that his employer handed out free cigarettes to customers to keep them at the gaming tables for as long as possible. In that context I commend my colleagues in all parties and in both Houses who served with me on the joint scrutiny committee on the draft gambling Bill for agreeing to include a recommendation in our report on limiting smoking in casinos in order to protect the health of employees.
The evidence is conclusive. Smoking is a serious workplace health and safety hazard. Usually, and rightly, such hazards are the subject of tight legal regulation. Yet 516 current law in the UK provides wholly inadequate protection against the risks of second-hand smoke. Although second-hand smoke is a workplace carcinogen, it is not listed under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations.
My noble friend Lady Gibson of Market Rasen may say something about the efforts that the TUC has made for action to be taken under the EU carcinogens directive. I look forward to hearing what she has to say. Some people have suggested that new legislation is not required because responsible employers will act on their own initiative. The hospitality industry has argued that a voluntary approach to smoking restrictions is preferable to legislation. Indeed, my noble friend Lord Warner yesterday indicated from the Dispatch Box that the Government still had some faith in the so-called "Public Places Charter".
The charter group was set up by the industry to promote that voluntary action. The attempt has largely failed. Although the major chain, Pizza Hut, which is part of Whitbread, announced in August last year that it would go smoke-free, most other restaurant chains continue to permit smoking, including other parts of the Whitbread Group. The number of pubs banning smoking is less than 1 per cent of the total and may total fewer than 50 across the whole country.
The voluntary Public Places Charter is not an acceptable way forward as all the pub has to do to comply with it is to put a notice on the door which states, "Smoking throughout". There are many pubs within one mile of the Palace of Westminster which claim to comply with the charter by putting up such a notice.
Recently, the more far-sighted members of the hospitality trade have begun to talk about the need for clear national legislation, particularly in view of the Government's suggestion in their Big Conversation document that local authorities should be given new powers to act in their areas. I commend particularly the efforts that a number of local authorities are taking to introduce their own bans; for example, Liverpool is one of the foremost in doing so. This should not require a local initiative; it requires a nationwide initiative to address the problem.
That indeed is what Tim Martin, the founder of the pub chain Wetherspoons, said when backing nationwide legislation. He has introduced non-smoking in the pubs in the Wetherspoons chain. He is against local implementation because of the effect of competition. I believe though that he will be the first of many who will call for similar national legislation.
As noble Lords will know, a number of other countries and local jurisdictions have already acted to ban smoking in workplaces and enclosed public places. They include Ireland, Norway, California, Massachusetts, much of Australia and the city of New York. There is no reliable evidence that smoking bans damage business; indeed, the reverse is the case. The BMJ journal, Tobacco Control, looked at 97 studies worldwide. All independent studies have found no negative impact on takings. Studies which did show a negative impact had tobacco industry backing and most used subjective measures.
517 Noble Lords will no doubt have seen dire predictions of disaster from the well-organised tobacco and hospitality lobbies in New York. Yet, the New York city finance commissioner, Martha Stark, recently revealed that the business tax take from the city's hospitality venues had increased by 12 per cent in the first nine months since the city's smoking ban took effect.
The smoking ban in Ireland has been introduced to general public support and is already well on the way to proving a great success. A very interesting letter appeared in the Irish Times of 19 April from Mr Pascal Rowenstock, who said:I don't wish to sound like the pub bore … but from what I have seen the smoking ban has been not only accepted by everyone (apart from the publicans and [a few] grouches) but actually embraced.Smokers know that setting fire to a weed wrapped in saltpetre-laced paper and inhaling the smoke thereof is not in the best interest of health. I myself (a part-time 'pint' smoker) and many others I know do not mind making the small sacrifice of going outside rather than forcing others to share our vice. Not only do you find yourself cutting down … but you get to talk to people you might otherwise never have talked to, with the added bonus of having a perfect alibi to take leave of their company if it proves to have been a mistake".I am sure noble Lords who are concerned about public health will join me in congratulating the Irish Health Minister Michael Martin and his colleagues on their political courage.
Smoking restrictions generally do not require intensive or costly enforcement. That has been the experience in Ireland and New York and of course on the London Underground and other UK public transport systems. The reason is that such restrictions are generally observed by popular consensus. They combine the power and advantages of the unfavourable sentiments and active interference noted by John Stuart Mill.
There is widespread support in the UK for similar action. The Office for National Statistics' report on Smoking related behaviour and attitudes 2002 found that,over four-fifths of those interviewed agreed that there should be restrictions on smoking at work (88‥), in restaurants (88‥) and in other public places such as banks and post offices (87‥). A smaller percentage of respondents (54‥) thought that smoking should be restricted in pubs".The case for legislation to end smoking in the workplace was also given strong support by Derek Wanless in his recent report to the UK Government on public health. He suggested that an end to all smoking in the workplace could reduce smoking prevalence in the adult population by as much as 4 per cent from the current level of around 26 per cent. That would save many thousands of lives a year and is the single cheapest, simplest and most effective way of making a further major cut in the number of deaths and illnesses caused by smoking.
My Bill does not go as far as the Irish or New York legislation: it does not require all workplaces to be fully smoke-free, although I certainly hope that many would wish to choose that option. The Bill is virtually identical to one introduced in 1994 in another place by Tessa Dowell—now Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport—when she was a Back-Bench Member.
518 The similarities between the two Bills are not entirely a coincidence. My hope is that her government colleagues will acknowledge the failure of the voluntary approach and give the Bill a fair wind in this House, and then take it over in the other place as they did with the Tobacco Advertising and Sponsorship Bill of the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones. My Bill can be described as a British compromise. It gives statutory force to the worthy aims of the charter group and ensures that they will be met in practice. It provides protection for employees and members of the public from the damaging effects of second-hand smoke. It allows smokers the freedom to continue their habit, although I hope and believe that it will also help to persuade many of them that it is time to quit. The Bill is short and simple and, I believe, it would make a major contribution to solving one of the greatest public health challenges we now face. I commend the Bill to the House.
Moved, that the Bill be now read a second time.—(Lord Faulkner of Worcester.)
§ 1.27 p.m.
§ Baroness Trumpington
My Lords, I suppose I should start by declaring that I am a member of the All-Party Tobacco and Pipe Smokers' Club. I am delighted to see a fellow member, the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, in his place, but I am sad that my fellow members on the government side of the House are not present today.
The Bill is unnecessary. It will surprise me if, when summing up, the Minister does not agree with me. After all, we have his own words in answer to a Written Question on 10 March 2004. He said:The Government have no plans to ban smoking in public places. We have consistently said that smoke-free public places are the ideal…We do not think a universal ban on smoking in all public places is justified while we can make fast and substantial progress in partnership with industry".—[Official Report, 10/3/04; col. WA 177.]I shall indeed be surprised if the Minister's reply today is different. After all, tobacco products may legally be retailed to any person over the age of 16. The state has long been quite prepared to tax them highly, reaping for the Exchequer as much as almost £10 billion a year. The noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, should remind himself that to smoke is not an illegal act.
I should like to comment briefly on one or two matters that arise from the Bill itself. In Clause 5, regulation 1(h) decrees:regulating the design, nature and provision of ashtrays and fixed facilities for the disposal of tobacco products at the entrances to or within public places".Really, that is too absurd. Either that provision should be re-written or eliminated. The term "public space" is defined as meaning a space to which the public or section of the public has access, on payment, or otherwise, as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission.
Smoking is already prohibited in most public buildings, and on public transport. It is confined to designated areas in places that belong to everyone and no one, in particular enclosed shopping centres, airports and theatres. That leaves the hospitality sector. Those are largely private places, in which 519 owners and operators have the freedom to determine smoking policy. It is in their best interests to have regard for the demands and preferences of their customers and for their duties with regard to the health, safety and welfare of their employees. The greater provision of non-smoking areas in such places is progressively being achieved.
However, it says on page 2, paragraph 5(e) of the Bill that regulations may be made,Setting maximum permitted exposure levels or durations of exposure to tobacco smoke".The Bill does not say how long those exposure levels should last. I am thinking of the barman in the smoking area of a pub. What about those people working long hours in nightclubs and casinos? Perhaps they do not count as public places, and the sponsors of this Bill will say "hard cheese" to those persons. Your Lordships may be surprised that I have not mentioned passive smoking. Frankly, I find the voluminous arguments, both for and against, inconclusive. I could easily have taken up your Lordships' time by absolutely refuting the arguments made by the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, but I shall listen. I hope politely, while others discourse on this tricky matter.
I was interested to read the exemptions listed in the Bill but not mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner. They recognise that regardless of physical health, smoking can be important to some people, and that without the crutch of tobacco they could suffer depression and other mental difficulties. Furthermore, I wonder whether any exercise has been undertaken comparing the effects of passive smoking on the health of members of the non-smoking public with the effects of noxious fumes from motor cars, and so on, on the health of that same public.
Much has been made recently of the Government's worries about obesity. Not surprisingly, I share those worries, since I put on two stone when I gave up smoking. As the French say, I find myself asking myself, "Am I, now fat and smokeless, more of a worry to my GP than when I was lighter, happier, and smoking?". In general, are the illnesses caused by obesity providing more work for doctors and a sicker population than the possible results of smoking? I wonder if the people of Ireland would go as quietly as they have done over a tobacco ban if their government decided, in the interests of their people's health, to put a total ban on butter and French fries. I am old-fashioned enough still to believe in freedom of choice. I hope that this Bill will not pass.
§ 1.33 p.m.
§ Baroness Gale
My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lord Faulkner for bringing this Bill forward and for the eloquent manner in which he introduced it to us today. Once again, it allows the smoking issue to be fully debated. It would be great to think that this important Bill before us today was acceptable to the Government. If it became law, I am sure that it would prove to be popular, as all surveys and opinion polls show that the majority of people would like to have 520 smoke-free public and work places. What a great contribution to the health of the nation that would prove to be.
As my noble friend Lord Faulkner said, tobacco kills around 114,000 people in the UK every year. That is more than 300 people a day. About half of all regular cigarette smokers will eventually be killed by their habit, which represents 20 per cent of all deaths. That is a horrific statistic, but one which the Government should and could play a role in reducing, not only by making even greater efforts to get people not to start smoking in the first place, but to help smokers to stop smoking. This Bill will make big inroads in reducing that figure.
A smoking ban in public places would not, of course, be the complete answer to the smoking problem in this country, but it would be a positive measure, and one that would assist in helping people either to stop smoking, or encourage them not to start. It would also be beneficial to people who are forced to be passive smokers because they are in areas where smoking is allowed—which, in this country, is practically everywhere. The Bill is a measured one, which specifies what constitutes a public place and would allow designated smoking areas in public places, a consultation with employees as to the establishment of designated smoking areas, and the adoption of non-smoking areas in workplaces.
Part 2 of the schedule spells out what the exempt places should be. This is a thoughtful Bill, in that it acknowledges that there must be access for those who wish to smoke but can do so without causing problems for everyone else. Of course, some people would object to the inconvenience of not being able to smoke where and when they wanted to. However, the benefits would far outweigh the inconvenience to smokers. Furthermore, in pubs and clubs where young people congregate, having a smoke-free environment would mean that peer pressure on young people to be like their friends and to appear sophisticated or cool would diminish. This, it is hoped, would prevent many young people from smoking, especially girls and young women. It is well known that girls who smoke will have problems later on, in that they will have difficulty in conceiving, and when they do so, the new-born baby will have a lower birth weight, especially if the mother continues to smoke during her pregnancy.
According to ASH—although my noble friend Lord Faulkner gave a different figure—there are only 26 smoke-free pubs in England and Wales, and of those 26 only two are in London. I am sorry to say that only one is in Wales. The voluntary code for the hospitality industry does not seem to be working in pubs, yet the 26 non-smoking pubs seem to be thriving in their non-smoking environment.
If smoking is eventually banned in public places in Wales and England, children would benefit greatly. They are particularly disadvantaged if their parents take them to places where smoking is allowed. Children are unable to remove themselves in the way that adults would be able to, and so become victims of passive smoking. The case for a ban on smoking has 521 been made. All the medical evidence is clear. Smoking causes many illnesses that would be avoided if people did not smoke. Nicotine is such an addictive drug that once hooked—usually at a young age, as very few people start smoking as an adult they need help to give up. The Government have introduced some very good measures to help and support people in their efforts to give up smoking. However, as more and more countries implement a smoking ban in public places, and as more and more people would like to see a ban, surely the time has come for the Government to stop insisting that a voluntary ban is the best approach.
In a recent report published in the Medical Journal of Australia, the authors said that the United Kingdom Government must make more effort to persuade the third of British adults who still smoke to give up. One of the authors, Professor Konrad Jamrozik of Imperial College London said:It is extremely hard to fathom why a nation that has led the world in documenting the harm done by smoking has been so slow to act on the evidence".I detect a chink of light in the Government's approach, in that the Prime Minister called for a Big Conversation on the issue last autumn and even suggested a role for local authorities. I was pleased to learn from the Minister yesterday that the Government had launched a public health consultation, which includes questions on smoking. However, like my noble friend Lord Faulkner of Worcester, I believe that, if the matter is left to local authorities, the situation could be very patchy indifferent parts of the country. I well remember the position in Wales when we had referendums on opening the pubs on Sunday. It is not that long ago since the last county in Wales lifted the ban on drinking in pubs on Sunday. All that happened was that drinkers living in dry areas hopped across the council border to the wet area, so that they could have a drink on Sunday. That would happen with a smoking ban, if it were carried out by local authorities.
I can give an example of how the smoking ban in Ireland has affected Wales. Over the Easter break, many people from Ireland travelled to Holyhead in order to have a smoke with their pint. Although tourists are always welcome in Wales, we do not want Wales to become a smokers' paradise or a magnet for smoker tourism. The best way to avoid that is to have a ban on smoking throughout Wales and England, as the Bill would allow. All the evidence shows that in the UK and in many other countries the support for a ban on smoking in public places is now so strong that, in the not too distant future, it will become the norm. I trust that the Government will respond positively—I hope for that today—and not be left behind in taking measures that will be a great help in making sure that we become a much healthier country.
§ 1.42 p.m.
§ Lord Campbell of Alloway
My Lords, noble Lords will be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, for the clarity of his exposition. He made it plain that what he was after was the active and passive 522 smoking of cigarettes. He said so. He referred to medical evidence in that context. I listened with rapt attention to the speech made by my noble friend Lady Trumpington, who said, as I believe, that the Bill was unnecessary. At all events, much that my noble friend said will enable me to shorten my speech.
I found the speech made by the noble Baroness, Lady Gale, fascinating. It seemed to be directed to what, in telegraph text, I would call "ASH. Total ban.". It was not related to the principle of the Bill, which implements the policy of the Government. For once, I find myself in the astonishing position of firmly supporting the policy of the Government, as I did on 16 April.
I am also a member of the Pipe and Cigar Smokers' Club. I smoke a pipe. I smoke flake tobacco, which is damp and made with a touch of either whiskey or rum, and a very occasional cigar. The noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, and I have a lot in common. I agree that there are problems of passive smoking: I choke on cigarette tobacco, and I choke on what they call cigarillos, those cheap, awful things. I am fully in sympathy with the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, who has asthma. His position is acknowledged with the utmost sympathy and is well understood. However, that does not support a total ban.
I do not propose to enter into a debate on medical statistics. I do not have the expertise to analyse the evidence and am not competent to do so. In any event, as I do not support an outright ban and nor does the Bill, there would be no object in doing so. An outright ban was introduced in the Republic of Ireland, but the position there bears no true comparison with what is going on here. There was no voluntary scheme in operation and nor was there in any of the places—NewYork and other places—referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, and the noble Baroness, Lady Gale. If we are to make comparisons, they must be of like with like. That element is missing here.
My purpose is to support the voluntary regime, as introduced and supervised by the Government, and to oppose legislation, until and unless the voluntary regime fails and falters. In those circumstances, I would follow the noble Lord, but I would never substitute imposition for a voluntary regime, unless it were wholly requisite to do so. That is where I stand, and that, in essence, is the only issue between the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, and myself. There is no issue on what should be done about enclosed places, on the standards that should be applied, on the ventilation necessary and so on. For example, the smokers' punishment room in the House would need a lot of ventilation to comply with any reasonable requirements. There is no gap between us on what is required: the gap between the noble Lord and me is on whether this is the time to introduce legislation, without giving the voluntary regime a fair chance.
This is our third time around this on a Friday. Today is a very nice day. One of the things that I have mentioned before and must mention again is that it seems extraordinary to have to criminalise conduct 523 unless a request to desist from smoking has been made and declined. That is taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
I think that I have dealt sufficiently with the standards of requirement for these areas. I have dealt with the common ground, which is apparent from the Official Report for 16 January. But the Wales Bill that is to follow conflicts with this Bill on a matter of definition. No doubt, it will be subsumed by this Bill. As they are both Private Member's Bills, they must pass this House according to convention, but neither can have fruitful expectations of Royal Assent, being contrary to government policy.
To save time, I should like to conclude by again referring to what my noble friend Lady Trumpington said about the Written Answer given by the noble Lord, Lord Warner, on 10 March, that brings us up to date. It would be an imposition to repeat it; anyone who is interested can find it in my noble friend's speech in the Official Report.
§ 1.51 p.m.
§ Lord Monson
My Lords, as when we debated a fairly similar Bill 13 or 14 weeks ago, I declare a strictly non-financial interest as president of the Society for Individual Freedom and a named supporter of FOREST. The noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, will not expect me to support his Bill. I do not intend to surprise him, except perhaps to say that one or two of the 12 clauses are not wholly unreasonable. I shall return to those later.
This Bill is more illiberal than the Bill introduced by the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, in some respects, and less illiberal in others. Unlike my noble friend's skeleton Bill—as she described it—which would allow the Welsh Assembly considerable latitude about if, when and where, in a geographical sense, a ban should be imposed, the Bill introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, is more illiberal in that it would allow no such discretion.
However, this Bill allows for certain limited designated smoking areas in public places, although the concession is not quite as generous as it appears. For example, if a group of people wanted to hire a village hall, church hall or the upstairs room of a pub for a meeting, reception or lecture with no paid employees present—food and drink, if any, would be provided by the organisers or volunteers—why on earth should those people who attend of their own free will not be allowed to smoke or, if non-smokers, mingle with smokers? Clause 3 apparently would prevent that. There is also ambiguity in respect of the other possible exemptions.
When we previously debated this issue in January, the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, extolled Finland as a country that had banned smoking in enclosed public spaces. Is the noble Lord aware that in Finland there are smoking compartments on trains, albeit fairly 524 small and not terribly comfortable compartments that are hermetically sealed off by powerful spring-loaded sliding doors from the rest of the train?
§ Lord Faulkner of Worcester
My Lords, I apologise for interrupting the noble Lord in mid-flow, but I did not mention Finland.
§ Lord Monson
My Lords, I beg the noble Lord's pardon, but someone on his side, so to speak, did extol Finland. However, it is worth making that point anyway. Having raised the point, I should be grateful to know whether the noble Lord's exemptions would allow smoking compartments of the type that I have described in trains in this country.
At least the Bill does not seek to ban smoking in outdoor public spaces such as sports stadiums, although on 16 January the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, made it clear that he would personally favour such a restriction. We must be thankful for small mercies.
At the outset, I said that I find parts of the Bill not unreasonable. As a libertarian, I can hardly oppose Clause 9, especially as it merely restates the status quo. I accept that there may be something to be said for Clause 4 in principle, if not necessarily in detail. But I suggest that the rest of the Bill is unacceptable in a free society.
Banning an activity can only be justified if it can be established conclusively and beyond all reasonable doubt that it causes serious harm to others. Despite the statistics advanced by the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, no such conclusive proof exists. As I said in the previous debate, the decidedly left-of-centre Greater London Authority, headed by a prominent member of new Labour, conceded as much in April 2002, as did many eminent scientists and scientific bodies. I will not repeat today what I said then. Albeit more obliquely, the noble Baroness, Lady Jay, also conceded that in a Written Answer in March 1998 when she was Minister of State at the Department of Health.
I return to the empirical evidence that I cited in January. Nearly everyone born in the 1920s, 1930s or 1940s will have inhaled God knows how many cubic yards of second-hand tobacco smoke during their formative years—such was the ubiquity of the stuff 16 hours a day. Yet our generations are proving to be among the healthiest ever statistically with ever-increasing life expectancy, much to the despair of annuity providers. I remind your Lordships that the Greeks are among the heaviest smokers in Europe, yet they have one of the lowest rates of lung cancer. I should like that explained.
The noble Baroness, Lady Gale, gave some very interesting statistics. She said that 140,000 people die a year from smoking. About 20 years ago, the Department of Health and Social Security, as it then was—
§ Baroness Gale
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt, but the figure that I gave was 114,000, not 140,000.
§ Lord Monson
My Lords, I am delighted to hear that from the noble Baroness because the figures have crept up and up over the years. In a parliamentary Written Answer, the figure started at 50,000 people dying a year; then it doubled overnight to 100,000; then, on realising that that was a suspiciously round figure, it was adjusted to a suspiciously precise figure like 111,763; and then it increased to 120,000. Now I am delighted to hear that it has been reduced to 114,000: I feared that we might reach the quarter of a million mark within five years' time. I am glad that the trend is now downwards. That is excellent news. I apologise to the noble Baroness for not having heard her correctly.
Whatever may have been the case 40 or 50 years ago, if the argument is advanced today that diluted smoke is dangerous—noble Lords cannot pretend that exhaled smoke from people's lungs is not diluted we have to look to recently introduced additives, not only additives to tobacco products, but additives generally. A fascinating study published earlier this week by the University of Sunderland reveals that up to 76 dangerous chemicals are found in our bloodstream, arising from pesticides, plastics, flame retardants, coolants, food wrappings, and so forth. Could it be that those react with and accentuate the effects of chemicals in tobacco? If so, surely, that is a problem worth tackling.
I do not deny that concentrations of tobacco smoke are an irritant. Last weekend, I spent three days in Bilbao. From a smoker's perspective, it was like being in London 50 years ago—public transport apart. For the entire time, one was enveloped in a cloud of tobacco smoke everywhere. Even I found it a bit overpowering. Certainly, smoke is irritating. But so are the particularly pungent new scents that certain women choose to wear, even at the Palace of Westminster. Such strong scents are an irritant that make me cough uncontrollably and make my eyes stream, and I am not exaggerating. It is right that users of both tobacco and powerful scent should be urged to show maximum consideration for others, but not that they should be legally prevented from using them except in private.
§ 2 p.m.
§ Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen
My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend Lord Faulkner of Worcester on introducing the Bill, about which I know he feels extremely passionately. I shall address my remarks in particular to the position of those who work in public places and have to suffer the effects of smoking by those who use them.
Although my noble friend did not mention Finland, I propose to do so because it was in that country that I first realised that something could be done in this area by those who make the laws, as we do. I visited Finland more than 20 years ago. I accompanied four women representatives of the TUC Women's Advisory Committee on a sororial visit to Finland. Two of the women were non-smokers and two were virtually chain smokers. The Finnish equivalent of the TUC were our hosts and provided a minibus for us in which to travel around Finland. It was a strictly non-smoking minibus. 526 However, for the sake of the smokers, we had what we called "smoking stops". I have some wonderful photographs of the two women in question desperately puffing away under snow-laden fir trees.
The Finnish Government even then had passed measures on anti-smoking in public places and most of the large stores in Finland refused to allow smoking in them, so when we went shopping I stayed outside the shops with my smoking colleagues. As I was in charge of the delegation, I did not want to lose any of them and I did not want any of them to be discomforted. We did not, of course, speak Finnish. However, the gestures of the goodly number of Finns who approached my colleagues made very clear what they thought of smoking in the street and, indeed, in all public places. This experience has stayed with me. I believe firmly that if the Finns could do it then, we can do it now.
Before entering your Lordships' House I was a member for six years of the Health and Safety Commission, representing the TUC on that body. One of my last acts before I entered the House was to lead for the TUC on a draft code of practice on smoking. At that time, the hospitality industry, via the CBI, had accepted the draft code. It was welcomed by health charities and campaigning groups. It gave good advice to employers on how they could help their workers to alleviate the effects of smoking. This was in 2000. The code has never seen the light of day. I would like to know why and I hope that perhaps my noble friend can assist me.
As a former trade union official I have witnessed at first hand the effects of smoking in public places onworkers—shortness of breath, acute attacks of asthma, the onset of lung cancer and coronary heart disease. We have to remember that public places such as bars and restaurants are also work places.
A recent Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology report stated that there are significant links between public smoking and both lung cancer and coronary heart disease, increasing the risk of each by about 25 per cent. As has already been said, the hospitality industry has relied on the so-called Public Places Charter, which the Department of Health supported at its launch in 1999. I believe that this has been singularly unsuccessful. The formal smoking policies and external signs about the dangers of smoking and the effects of inadequate ventilation have not worked. It reminds me of when equality opportunity policies were first written down but were not worth the paper they were written on. Real action is needed, and monitoring of that action.
Let me give an example. Just before Easter I went into a Weatherspoon pub with a friend. As my noble friend has indicated, Weatherspoon prides itself on protecting its bar staff by banning smoking at the bar. I have no doubt that the company's heart is in the right place—andto that extent I congratulate it—but this particular bar was open plan. We fought our way through thick smoke to order our drinks and found that there were indeed "no smoking" signs over the bar. When I mentioned these to 527 the bar staff, they pointed out that unless there is a separate non-smoking bar the policy does not work; an open-plan bar is always smoky.
The BMA believes that smoking in public places remains an "unacceptable risk to health" and that ventilation is no substitute for non-smoking policies as it does not provide effective action against pollution. Studies have shown that ventilation systems are usually not well maintained and are not designed for safety. As I understand it, there is no strategy for moving the Public Places Charter forward and no targets for future compliance with it.
Stronger measures are being called for by many important individuals and organisations because, asASH—Action on Smoking and Health—points out, a number of its research projects have found that exposure to second-hand smoking damages the health of third parties. ASH has campaigned for years against smoking and I pay tribute to its dedication and effective influence on these issues.
I understand that stronger measures are also being supported by the heads of all of Britain's 13 Royal Colleges of Medicine. In particular, I should like to mention and congratulate the Royal College of Physicians, the excellent booklet of which, Tobacco Smoke Pollution: The Hard Facts, is a hard-hitting and well produced exposé on the effects of smoking and ideas on how to combat them.
As my noble friend said earlier, the TUC has also campaigned against smoking in public places for many years. In the early 1980s, when I was the secretary of the TUC Women's Committee, resolutions were carried at both the women's conference and the TUC Congress on the dangers of smoking for working people. The campaign continues, including at a European level.
In March this year, the TUC General Secretary, Brendan Barber, wrote to the EU Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs asking for action under the EU carcinogens directive, including limits on exposure to tobacco smoke at work, and for tobacco smoke to be listed as an occupational carcinogen. The TUC states that the evidence clearly shows that failure to treat tobacco smoke in a similar way to other dangerous chemicals leads to the deaths or incapacity of many thousands of workers across the EU from lung cancer, emphysema, bronchitis and asthma.
At a national level, employment tribunals are increasingly recognising the dangers of smoking for employees. At a recent ET, a community centre worker won £17,000 compensation for being sacked unfairly when smoking by work mates made her ill. The ET ruled that the woman, who suffered from asthma, had been discriminated against because of her asthma disability.
Previously when I have spoken in the Chamber on smoking issues, I have always drawn your Lordships' attention to the effect that laws on smoking have on employees who work in the tobacco industry, and I do so again today. As a former trade union official of Amicus, whose members include highly skilled tobacco workers, 528 I am well aware of this. I stress to the Government the importance of alternative work for those working in the tobacco industry, especially when factories are closed or working numbers are reduced. Many tobacco workers would opt for adequate alternative employment if this was available in the areas where tobacco factories exist.
Cancer Research UK, which fully supports the Bill, points out that progress is being made on restricting smoking in public places, and we can only welcome that. It states that public support continues to grow, with more surveys confirming that the majority of people want to see a ban on smoking in enclosed public places.
We have come some way in recent years on recognising the dangers of smoking in public places and acting to alleviate them. The Bill is another step along the way. It is a Bill for common sense and another step towards improving the health of our nation. Above all, for me, it is another step towards making the lives of thousands of working people a great deal more pleasant and a great deal more healthy.
I urge the Government to support this important Bill and so put the UK in line with the most forward-thinking nations on this issue.
§ 2.10 p.m.
§ Lord Stoddart of Swindon
My Lords, like the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, I am a member of the House of Commons and House of Lords Pipe and Cigar Smokers' Club—a very congenial club, if I may say so. I say that, although I have not smoked for many years now. But although I am an ex-smoker, I have not become paranoid about smokers, as so many former smokers unfortunately have become.
I cannot welcome the Bill and I think it is quite absurd to have two similar Bills to ban smoking in certain public areas before us today. I should have thought that the House had more to do than to discuss two similar Bills on the same day.
The Bill not only restricts the right of smokers, it restricts the right of non-smokers to mix with smoker sin certain circumstances where they wish to do so. It is an illiberal Bill that affects not only smokers but non-smokers. I think there will be quite a lot of resentment about that.
The Bill is discouraging for all those who have made voluntary efforts to meet the needs of smokers and non-smokers alike—with much success, in many cases. But I am afraid that that is not good enough for the anti-smoking zealots who see this measure as a further milestone towards an absolute ban on smoking tobacco. Mind you, I have heard people who admit to smoking cannabis who want to ban smoking tobacco. I cannot understand that attitude, but it does exist.
The support for this type of ban is based on healthscares—nothing more. The noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, said on Second Reading of the Smoking in Public Places (Wales) (Bill) on 16 January:The Department of Health tells us that smoking kills 120,000 a year in Britain".—[Official Report, 16/1/04; col. 784.]The department does nothing of the sort.
529 Let me quote from a Written Answer given to me by the noble Baroness, Lady Jay. It was some while ago but is still relevant. On 24 July 1997, I asked the Government three Questions: what are the so-called smoking related diseases from which they estimate 120,000 people die each year; how many men and how many women who died of a so- called smoking-related disease were above the average of life expectation; and what percentage of total annual deaths is represented by the number of deaths from so-called smoking-related diseases? The noble Baroness, Lady Jay, said straightaway:It is estimated"—not absolute—
that 120,000 people died as a result of smoking in the United Kingdom in 1995".—[Official Report, 24/7/97; col. WA 171.]She went on to list a huge raft of diseases from which people are supposed to die. Having read them, I came to the conclusion that people are not allowed to die from anything other than a smoking disease. What is more, I also discovered that many if not all of those diseases were around before the middle of the 16th century when smoking was introduced to this country.
Therefore, there is another side to the argument, even though people think that there is not. I also noticed in the figures provided by the noble Baroness, Lady Jay, that the number of people who died from smoking in the lowest age group, from 35 to 45, was estimated to be just 9,000. When I looked at the figures for people over 65—the age of retirement for men— smoking deaths represented 79 per cent of the total. If we then look at people who die above the average age of life expectancy, that figure was 44 per cent. Most of the 120,000 people who died from smoking did so after retirement age, but we never hear about that.
The noble Lord, Lord Monson, mentioned the Greeks, who smoke at least twice as much as people in this country. That is also true of the Japanese. However, the average life expectancy in both those countries is higher than in this country. How do the zealots account for that?
The noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, quoted a statistic from the Royal College of Physicians, that 1,000 people a year die from second-hand tobacco smoke. Again, that is an estimate. No clinical relationship at all can be proved. Once again, we are relying on estimates. Where does that figure come from? Is it just plucked out of thin air? The noble Lord said previously that 17,000 children under five were admitted to hospital with respiratory illnesses related to tobacco smoke. Where is the clinical evidence? Is that just an estimate too? How many children were admitted with the same illness who were not in a smoking environment? Before we make any decisions, we need that information.
What happens if the Bill is passed and people go from smoke-free pubs, restaurants and workplaces into the street? They are met with vehicle emissions, which are estimated to kill 30,000 people a year. They kill not 1,000, but 30,000 people a year. Walking the streets is 30 times as dangerous as sitting in a smoke-filled bar or restaurant. Are my figures wrong? Of course they are not. They are absolutely right. In addition to those deaths, 3,500 people are killed and 530 45,000 people seriously injured each year by other people's driving. Do we want to stop people driving now because of that massacre on the roads?
What about doctors? Two of them are here today. They are going to speak in a minute. I shall listen to what they say. We should remember that 5,000 people die in hospitals every year through medical error or negligence, or from diseases unrelated to the one for which they went in to be treated in the first place. People are five times more likely to die by being in a hospital than by being in a smoke-filled room. If all of that were not enough, two articles in yesterday's press will help put risk from environmental tobacco smoke into better perspective. The noble Lord, Lord Monson, has referred to one of them already. It stated that 76 poisons are hidden in the body. But there was also a leading article in the Daily Telegraph, which said:The news that a thousand people a week are dying"—1,000 people a week, mind you—from the effects of obesity—more than are killed by smoking".My calculation is that suddenly the deaths from smoking have been halved by a learned professor, because 1,000 deaths per week means 52,000 deaths per year. If obesity kills more than smoking, the results for smoking are half of what is claimed.
There is too much speculative data. The rabid anti-smoking lobby may well be obstructing deeper investigation and research into the causes of so-called smoking-related diseases by demonising smokers and intimidating scientists and researchers who dare to question the currently politically correct view. For those reasons, I believe that the Bill is misconceived. Although it will get its Second Reading today, I hope that it makes no further progress in this House or elsewhere.
§ 2.21 p.m.
§ Lord Rea
My Lords, it gives me a sense of déjà vu to follow my noble friend Lord Stoddart. I shall continue to call him my noble friend because, apart from this issue, and, perhaps, the issue of Europe, we agree on many things.
The Bill carefully drawn up by my noble friend Lord Faulkner is welcome because it tackles a serious and long-standing hazard that prevents many people in the country from achieving and enjoying good health, as well as causing life-threatening disease and death in others. Before I go on, I should say to my noble friend Lord Stoddart that there is an answer to every single one of the points that he made, which I could make on my feet. However, if I did so, I would have no time for the rest of my speech.
My noble friend Lord Faulkner has done us all a great service by introducing this Bill. My only regret, which I share with him, is that it is not being launched by my noble friend Lord Warner from the Front Bench. However, as my noble friend Lord Faulkner said, it is not too late for the Government to take the Bill forward in this Session or the next, if they were so 531 minded. That would follow the example of the tobacco advertising Bill, which was so ably taken through this House by the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Davies.
§ Lord Rea
My Lords, I mean the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones. I am sorry—that just reveals my age.
The Bill that we are discussing is a logical conclusion to the Bill introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, and the subsequent Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002. It has been estimated that that Act will save 3,000 lives per annum. The BMA estimate, mentioned by several noble Lords, is that passive smoking kills 1,000 people a year, as well as impairing the quality of life of many thousands more. That is a conservative estimate.
As many noble Lords pointed out, the scientific evidence for the harm done by passive smoking is now massive. I am sure that my noble friend Lord Warner and the Department of Health are well aware of that fact and accept it. The Chief Medical Officer has confirmed that in no uncertain terms. Even the inner sanctum of the tobacco industry must by now accept the strength of the evidence, partly as a result of its own research, or the research that it has commissioned. However, the industry continues to deny its validity, most recently in a speech a few days ago by Martin Broughton, the outgoing chairman of BAT. The industry has commissioned scientists to discredit the scientific evidence and has opposed the WHO support for the International Agency for Research on Cancer and has encouraged smokers' rights organisations to lobby against legislation. We have heard some of that today, although, as far as I can recollect, none of the noble Lords who have spoken today have denied the scientific validity of the evidence against passive smoking.
§ Lord Rea
My Lords, I mean no one has denied it with accuracy! It is understandable that the tobacco industry is against this type of legislation because it would accelerate the fall in tobacco consumption. One estimate is that lost sales would amount to £310 million. Sadly, to compensate for this the industry is concentrating on building up its export market in the developing world rather than on diversifying to less harmful products. However, that is going on as well, since the tobacco industry is aware that the developing world itself is beginning to wake up to the dangers of smoking and the need for tobacco control measures.
The BMA's publication Towards smoke-free public places, which was published in November 2002, summarises the way in which passive smoking harms health. I shall mention some of the points the report makes for the record:More than 50 epidemiological studies … [indicate] a statistically significant and consistent association between lung cancer risk and exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke.532Passive smoking is proven to cause heart disease. Involuntary smoking increases the risk of an acute coronary event by 25–35 per cent".To divert for a moment from the BMA's report to amore recent finding, noble Lords may have recently read of the experience of the small town of Helena, Montana, USA, which is isolated from other towns. What happened there is described in a very interesting paper published in today's British Medical Journal. I shall read some extracts from that report. To summarise, two years ago Helena passed a law outlawing smoking in public places. In the following six months there was a reduction from the previous rate of heart attack of 40 persons per six-month period to 24. When the law was overturned by opponents and smoking in public places resumed, the heart attack rate returned to 40 in six months.
It sounds a little bit too good to be true that a reversible effect could occur so soon. But it is worth pointing out that some of the products of tobacco smoke can increase the chance of blood clotting which might well cause a thrombosis to form which could block an already narrowed coronary artery. The study by Professor Glantz and colleagues reported in the BMJ today appears on first reading to have been extremely carefully conducted. I would expect this because Professor Glantz is a professor of cardiology at the prestigious University of California, San Francisco. However, he says that:Like any initial report, further research is desirable to confirm the finding".When an author himself says that in his paper, it greatly increases my respect for his findings. The report explains why these findings could have occurred. It says:Several mechanisms … all of which could increase the likelihood of an acute coronary event, have been measured within minutes to hours of exposure to secondhand smoke".These include:increased platelet activation, inhibition of vascular endothelium, impairment of coronary artery dilatation capacity, decreases in antioxidant substances especially ascorbic acid, aortic stiffening, and impaired heart rate variability … Even occasional exposure to secondhand smoke has been associated with an increased risk for acute coronary syndromes".The BMA report also stated:For people with asthma, exposure to second-hand smoke is not only associated with more severe symptoms, but also with lower quality of life, reduced lung function, and increased use of health services for asthma, including hospital admissions. In addition, it is cited by up to 80 per cent of asthmatics as a trigger for further attacks".My noble friend has already mentioned the case of our noble friend Lord Simon, who is an asthmatic. He stated in a previous debate that he could not enter the Library in your Lordships' House until smoking was stopped there two or three years ago because he suffered an asthma attack whenever he tried to do so.
Derek Wanless has been the most recent of many who have pointed out that rectifying inequalities in health is necessary to improve the health status of the whole population. Both active and passive smoking 533 greatly contribute to these inequalities. It has been shown that blue collar or service workers have the highest level of exposure to passive smoking.
As my noble friend pointed out, bar workers are particularly exposed; their exposure is six times higher than that of office workers. However, apart from the tobacco industry, the catering and hospitality industries, and licensed premises in particular, are the most opposed to legislation such as this Bill. Those of us who occasionally go to the pub usually stay for only an hour or so and, of course, we have the freedom not to go at all. Those who work there may be exposed to high levels of both sidestream and mainstream smoke for the whole of their working day. Incidentally, most secondhand smoke is sidestream or non-inhaled smoke, which is more dangerous than mainstream smoke.
According to an Irish friend who was in Dublin earlier this week, the new legislation there is working well and is popular especially with bar staff. It is popular also with many smokers who find that their consumption is reduced—a major benefit of legislation which has been confirmed by several independent studies of the effects of legislation, especially in the United States. The Irish legislation, however, despite being more rigorous than proposed in this Bill, contains some sensible exemptions including prisons, where it was thought that riots would occur if smoking was banned entirely.
My noble friend Lord Warner will doubtless describe a number of voluntary measures that already exist" such as EU directives, voluntary guidelines, regulations and charters giving some protection from the hazards of secondhand smoke. There has certainly been a great improvement in many offices and public buildings in recent years, and your Lordships' House is an example. However, 3 million workers are still regularly exposed to secondhand smoke. Guidance is helpful, but in many cases it can be ignored without breaking the law.
There is much more to say, but much has already been said—much too much perhaps for Friday. I conclude by saying that I thoroughly support the Bill. I hope that it will galvanise the Government into legislative action. This will be a major step towards better health for the whole population, especially its most vulnerable citizens.
§ Lord Monson
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, is he aware that the Greater London Authority, headed as it is by an extremely prominent member of his own party, Mr Ken Livingstone, spent six months on an exhaustive investigation of the so-called risk from passive smoking, taking masses of evidence? Finally, it decided against any further restrictions on smoking, declaring that it was not easy to prove a link between smoking and lung cancer.
§ Lord Rea
My Lords, I take it that I am expected to answer that. I think that the vast body of opinion would say that there is an enormous amount of 534 evidence linking smoking to cancer of the lung. We could go into a long discussion about that but I do not think it is appropriate at this moment.
§ Lord Monson
My Lords, perhaps I should have said passive smoking and lung cancer. Perhaps I omitted that word. I agree, of course, that active smoking——
§ 2.35 p.m.
§ Baroness Finlay of Llandaff
My Lords, like other noble Lords I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, on this well crafted Bill which extends the principle of protection against environmental smoke in public places to cover England and Wales. My concern is that the debate in Wales is much further advanced within the population itself and the Welsh Assembly has already agreed by a resolution in plenary and unanimously in the Health and Social Services Committee that it wishes to have the powers to ban smoking in public places in Wales, and has already formally requested such powers to be given to it by primary legislation.
The dangers to health of passive smoking and the social inconvenience to non-smokers of environmental smoke have been repeatedly stated in this House. The health issues are incontrovertible and warrant restating, but I will not detain the House by relisting them all today. The noble Lord, Lord Rea, gave the medical evidence in his excellent speech. Professionally he has done me proud and I am proud to be associated with him.
The World Health Organisation has documents on tobacco industry strategies to block smoke-free measures and regulations. The report of the Committee of Experts on Tobacco Industry Documents, published in July 2000, catalogued the tobacco company strategies to undermine tobacco control activities at the World Health Organisation. The Select Committee on Science and Technology recently visited the World Health Organisation and may have already laid a copy of the report in the Library to be accessed by noble Lords. If that is not the case, I am happy to arrange for such a report to be laid in the Library for reference. There are undoubtedly powerful financial vested interests that seek to ensure that second-hand smoke is not controlled.
Ireland has shown that the right to breathe clean air is important and should be protected by legislation. Let us be clear. Voluntary codes have gone some way to improve the environment but I understand that even the large hospitality venue owner, Weatherspoon, would welcome a compulsory ban. The autonomous wishes and actions of one person cannot ethically override the autonomy of another to be free from harm.
I acknowledge that this Government have done a lot to ensure that the vulnerable in society are considered and have encouraged smoking cessation at great national expense. Legalisation to prohibit smoking in public places is a preventive measure for health and 535 may decrease the numbers who progress to severe chest problems in the long term. Prevention is always better than attempting cure. In this situation the diseases associated with tobacco are inherently non-curable and so the harm cannot be reversed. That is an aspect that needs to be considered when we are thinking about imposing on non-smokers the lack of an ability to breathe clean, smoke-free air.
For Wales, I hope that any legislation would allow the Assembly to lead and ensure consistency across Wales. There are some great health problems in Wales associated with tobacco.
My anxiety is that the very areas of greatest need might be subject to a postcode lottery through the tobacco industry's potential to influence some local authorities. The Assembly consultation exercise in Wales on smoking in public places will provide information from the population itself. I believe that the Assembly would like to have unfettered powers to act on these now, and not have to wait for England.
I am concerned about the arguments that have been raised this afternoon at Second Reading in opposition to this very important Bill. I should like to lay down formally that I will support this Bill if it progresses. The issue is much greater than which Bill gets through first. This country has to act, and has to follow Ireland's example.
§ 2.40 p.m.
§ The Earl of Erroll
My Lords, after listening to the tenor of several speeches in the debate, I would like to ask the Minister and the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, whether the Bill is part of a drive to ban smoking altogether.
I have to declare an interest. As a non-smoker married to a committed smoker, I spent many years, with help and support from four children, trying to get her to stop. I tried both carrots and sticks, but without any success. I have come to realise that all that I would probably do is cause her to die of stress instead. That is the main point. She leads a very busy life, often over-stressed by the plethora of government regulations that assault her small businesses and that she has to understand and absorb. We will need a large supply of Valium to combat the stress, and I hope that something will be made freely available to people who will be at risk if smoking is seriously curtailed.
The second problem was highlighted by the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington. Many ex-smokers put on weight. With the Government so concerned about the increase in mortality from obesity, it hardly seems the time to condemn even more people to an early grave. Obesity kills and stress kills, as the Health and Safety Executive keeps stressing. I would like to see an analysis of whether there is a net increase or decrease in,potential years of life lost",as the recent report, Securing Good Health for the Whole Population, describes death before 75. Another point is that, apparently, nicotine can help to delay the onset of Alzheimer's, which is again a growing problem as we tend to live longer.
536 I turn now to cost. Smokers pay a huge amount in tax, and if they die younger, as we are told, the Government must save as much as would have been spent on geriatric care as they then have to spend on cancer or other problems. If that is not true, although those people have quit smoking, they are presumably expected to die early but of less expensive diseases.
Every culture has condoned the use of some drug or other to make its daily toil on this planet more bearable, and efforts by the great and good to ban their use have always failed. Some people simply do not have staying healthy as a priority. Prohibition in the USA lasted only a comparatively short time, and all that it did was give the criminal fraternity an opportunity to make huge fortunes and then join the political elite.
§ 2.42 p.m.
§ Lord Addington
My Lords, I disagreed with most of that speech, but have a great deal of sympathy for those who find themselves addicted to a dangerous, expensive, smelly and unpleasant drug. I am not obsessive about tobacco; I do not have as great a sensitivity to passive smoking or smoke in the atmosphere as many people whom I know. It is a little more than 20 years since I have legally been allowed to go into a pub and, in that time, the density of smoke has got less, as have the unpleasant effects such as the smell on one's clothes. Generally, going into a pub has become a pleasanter experience. It may be true that voluntary codes and extractor fans are improving, but most of the improvement is down to fewer people having in their hands that white stick giving off noxious fumes. That is what we are talking about it. As a non-smoker, I find their smoke unpleasant.
I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, on his attack on the sitting duck of statistics. It was a masterful example of how one can "get in there" and hack around. I do not agree with anything that he said, but 10 out of 10 for form. A similar thing could be said about the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, who has been said to be one of the great forces in this House. I disagree with what she said as well, but recognise that, if I go head to head with her, I shall lose. Nevertheless I say to her, "Well done".
What we are really talking about is introducing a greater ban on the use of a drug that damages one's respiratory system, heart and any part of the body with which it comes into contact. It may be a drug that we have come to know well over the past 400-plus years; but it is still a drug. It is still something that damages one's clothes, one's environment and everything else. It might be virtually impossible to ban smoking overnight. But, going back even the 20 or more years that I have been on the edge of this argument, no one would have believed then that one could have reduced smoking to its current level.
One was told then, "Oh, everyone smokes. You've got to smoke because everyone else does". That was whacked around the back of my head when I was a teenager. I was one of the sporty elite who decided that they would waste their money on other substances. But 537 noble Lords must bear in mind that we have moved along way, and are still moving away, from that idea. The only protest we have heard is that other things might be bad for us as well. There is the idea that one might put on weight after stopping smoking and become obese. Yes, but we are trying to attack that as well. Living kills. Ultimately we must find the best way that we can travel from A to B. If we decide to sit around, statically, and smoke and eat chips, we will probably die slightly more quickly than if we just sat around eating chips.
We have to put the issue in context. We are talking about putting a brake on the use of this legal drug, this legal poison. We are trying to push it slightly further away. It will be a battle that is won by inches, not by one great charge. Indeed, if we did the latter there would be cigarette smuggling; illegal smuggling dens starting where cigarettes are handed out. We must achieve our aims by education. We must travel on. But whenever we have intervened in terms of education and voluntary codes—primarily by upping the cost— we have made far greater strides. If the Government say that simply relying on a voluntary code will work, they are wrong—to the extent that we will not make the same rate of progress. We must try to push back.
The Bill is part of one of those inches that we are taking forward, or, at least, part of the reconnaissance. I hope that the Bill promoted by the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, which we shall debate later, will receive better support as it is slightly further along the road. But we have to recognise that we are in the process of a debate that is pushing back the use of something that is unpleasant and damaging to those who do not want it and even more damaging to those who use it. By making tobacco more difficult to use in public we will be taking an important step towards ensuring a general reduction in use.
I offer one last thought regarding all those illegal drugs that are consumed by means of smoking. If fewer people smoke, fewer people will try them.
§ 2.48 p.m.
§ Lord McColl of Dulwich
My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, for introducing the Bill. Much of what I planned to say has already been said, so I shall not repeat it. However, I would like to emphasise that non smokers are acutely aware of the effect of being in the vicinity of a smoker; they soon notice that their clothes and hair reek of the smell of tobacco. Perhaps the only other living thing that does something comparable to polluting others with their effluvia is Mephitis mephitis. It spreads its unpleasant smell over people who attack it, but only after warning of its intention. It does that by drumming and performing hand stands—or front paw stands. Unlike man, it never pollutes its fellows. Mephitis mephitis is also known as the striped skunk. The pollutant that it spreads contains a powerful anti-cancer drug, which is rather ironic when one compares that with tobacco smoke, which causes cancer.
There has already been much argument about whether passive smoking causes cancer. I want to leave that to one side and deal with some important facts which no one can 538 dispute. Those have been emphasised already, especially by the noble Lord, Lord Rea. Passive smoking can, and does, cause asthmatic attacks. That is fact number one. Fact number two is that people can, and do, die in asthmatic attacks. It seems to me that that is quite enough evidence on passive smoking without getting into a large debate about the statistics.
I must take issue with the noble Lord, Lord Monson, who I think denied that there was a danger in passive smoking. I believe that the asthmatic argument is overwhelming, and I hope that he will accept that.
§ Lord Monson
My Lords, obviously I accept that some asthmatics are affected, but I know many asthmatics who are not troubled by smoke. I am sure that the former are a sizeable minority, but by no means all asthmatics are affected by other people's smoke.
§ Lord McColl of Dulwich
My Lords, I did not say that all asthmatics are affected; I said that passive smoking can cause asthmatic attacks and that asthmatic attacks can kill. Those are facts. It seems tome that, if we argue along those lines, we shall be on a very firm foundation.
Smoke-free workplaces and public places are essential in order to protect people with asthma. Reducing smoking in pubs and restaurants is a real problem. Half-measures, such as no-smoking parts of a restaurant, simply do not work. Sitting in the smoke-free half of a bar is rather like swimming in the chlorine-free half of a swimming pool.
Passive smoking in children is a very big worry indeed. Children make up 20 per cent of the UK population and, especially when young, they do not have the freedom to choose to avoid smoky atmospheres. Nearly half of all children are exposed to smoke at home and many more are exposed in public places. The home is the greatest source of environmental tobacco smoke as children spend much of their early lives indoors. Nationally, around 17,000 admissions to hospital by under-five year-olds each year are attributed to passive smoking. That amounts to around five hospital admissions a day in London, and the total cost to the NHS of treating those children is more than £400 million.
There is some good news. Children's overall exposure to passive smoking has approximately halved since the late 1980s, and that was achieved without compulsion. There is more good news, as has already been mentioned, in that Pizza Hut has banned smoking in all its restaurants, especially with children in mind.
What are the main health risks for children? They include sudden infant death syndrome, which has a significant relationship with passive smoking. While active smoking during pregnancy has been shown to cause cot death, recent epidemiological studies have now demonstrated that post-natal environmental tobacco smoke exposure is also an independent risk factor in cot deaths. We have already mentioned asthma. Glue ear and middle-ear infections are common conditions, with 15 to 20 per cent of two to five year-old children affected at any one time. The 539 most common symptom of glue ear is that the child does not develop language and speech as expected due to hearing loss. Untreated glue ear can result in permanent hearing loss in a small minority of children. It has been demonstrated that passive smoking is responsible for a 20 to 40 per cent increase in the risk of middle-ear disease in children.
Other health risks include respiratory tract infections, meningitis, and also cognitive behavioural problems. There is evidence that environmental tobacco smoke exposure may contribute to learning difficulties, behavioural problems and language impairment. It has been shown that children with parents who smoke also take much more time off school. Children have a basic human right to be protected from harm caused by environmental pollution and, therefore, it is important to ensure that places where children go are smoke free.
Employers have a duty to protect their staff. They have a responsibility and a statutory duty to provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and free from risks to health. Many employers have recognised that duty and have made their workplaces completely smoke free. By the year 2002 about half of all employees were completely protected in that way.
It has already been mentioned that 20 per cent of people with asthma are prevented from using parts of their workplaces by cigarette fumes. There is no comparable carcinogen to which workers and customers are exposed in such a widespread and uncontrolled way. People suffering from serious exposure to second-hand smoke at work are three times more likely to take time off work.
How can we help smokers to quit? Restricting smoking in public places is part of the strategy to de-normalise smoking. Non-smoking is the norm. A vast majority— something like 73 per cent of British adults—are non-smokers. The great majority of smokers—71 per cent— actually want to give up smoking. Smoke-free policies at work help smokers to realise that ambition.
In all my professional life as a surgeon I have done my best to persuade my patients not to smoke. But I am an adviser; I am not a dictator. As my noble friend Lady Trumpington pointed out, there are problems associated with stopping smoking. A lady of 75 had a new GP who told her that she must stop smoking—that was an order. So she stopped smoking and three weeks later she was profoundly depressed and was put on anti-depressants; she reacted to the anti-depressants, became ill and was changed to another anti-depressant which made her even more ill and so it went on. After about three months, fortunately, the doctor went on holiday and she saw another doctor who said, "I am terribly sorry, we really have made a big mistake; I think you'd better come off all these drugs and go back to smoking". We are advisers, not dictators.
I share the curiosity of my friend the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, on the subject of cannabis. I wonder whether the Liberal Democrats could clarify their policies on this subject. Am I right in thinking that they wish to ban smoking tobacco in public places, yet wish 540 to legalise the smoking of cannabis, which is known to be 10 times more lethal in producing cancer than tobacco smoke?
§ Lord McColl of Dulwich
My Lords, but the Liberal Democrats do not mind people continuing to smoke cannabis?
§ Lord Addington
My Lords, we would ban the smoking of cannabis in public places as well as tobacco.
§ Lord Stoddart of Swindon
My Lords, is it not true that the smoking of cannabis, as a class B drug, is already banned in public places?
§ Lord McColl of Dulwich
My Lords, I believe so but it does not seem to have had any effect.
Many noble Lords believe that the Bill is not appropriate as a Private Member's Bill and that it should have come to Parliament as a government Bill, after extensive public discussion and consultation. The Government may deliberately be avoiding such consultation by taking on the Bill with Government backing in another place, which is a government technique that I have noticed before.
The Government have had ample opportunity to address the issue, but have failed to do so. We believe in principle that everyone should be able to work in a smoke-free environment. However, we recognize the difficulty that poses in some sectors: notably, the entertainment and hospitality section.
The Health and Safety Executive has looked into the issue and drafted an approved code of practice to address the problem, a matter mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Gibson of Market Rasen. This code of practice could have clarified the existing legal situation for employees, yet the Government have failed to act, even though that was a central part of their 1998 White Paper, Smoking Kills.
On this side of the House we wanted the Health and Safety Executive draft approved code of practice to be published because we believe that it would have gone a long way to ensure that people are protected from cigarette smoke in the workplace. However, the Health and Safety Executive informed me just yesterday that the Government have scrapped the approved code of practice due to the effect that it would have on the hospitality industry.
In conclusion, the majority of British people would like to see the end of smoking altogether. The question is: how is that best achieved? An outright ban in public places will undoubtedly increase the amount of smoking at home, which will further endanger the health of the children trapped in that polluted environment. Incidentally, if there were an outright 541 ban, presumably trading standards officers would do the monitoring. They are already very hard-pressed. The Government should adopt a sensible code of practice for all work places to eliminate the pollutant smoke on a voluntary basis. That should precede any attempt at more draconian methods. Persuasion is always to be preferred to force.
§ 3.2 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner)
My Lords, like other noble Lords, I welcome the opportunity the Bill presents to debate these important issues again. The Government share the noble Lord's desire to tackle the death and disease associated with tobacco smoke and second-hand smoke. We have no quarrel with the evidence that he deployed and that was deployed to this effect so eloquently by other noble Lords, particularly the medical Members of the Chamber. That is why we are currently engaged in public consultation.
Let me reassure the noble Lord, Lord McColl, that we are engaged in a serious public consultation—I shall say more about it later—on how best to take forward government action to achieve the objectives we all share of improving public health.
I have listened carefully to the views expressed from all sides of the Chamber, even to those of the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, who seems to have deployed the case very well for never stepping outside one's own front door. As the noble Lord, Lord Addington, said, living does kill, but I suggest that it is not a bad idea to put off the end as far as possible.
This is an important debate and one that is going on across the country and internationally. As a government we have always said that entirely smoke-free public places are the ideal, as a number of noble Lords opposite have remarked—and I must tell the House that I am always delighted to be quoted approvingly by the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington. We think that having smoke-free public places is one way to provide protection from the dangers of second-hand smoke. We have thus far preferred to look for last and substantial progress on a voluntary basis rather than bringing forward specific legislation in this area.
Although there has undoubtedly been some improvement, we have been disappointed by the lack of action in some sectors, particularly pubs and bars. I reassure my noble friend Lord Faulkner that I was not conveying excessive confidence in this area in the Chamber yesterday. As a result of our concerns, Melanie Johnson and Tessa Jowell met representatives of the hospitality industry earlier this year, to see what more could be done on a voluntary basis. A further meeting is due on 5 May, and we hope to see some new approaches that will hasten the moves to a greater provision of smoke-free places in response to the growing public demand.
Despite disappointment with this one sector, there have, of course, been significant measures of progress across the country. The number of workplaces that are entirely smoke-free has grown by 10 percentage points 542 since 1996—that is up from 40 per cent in 1996 to 50 per cent in 2002. The percentage of workplaces that are either entirely smoke-free or have separate areas for smokers has now grown to 86 per cent.
Let me move on to the substance of today's debate, not in any spirit of opposition, but because the Government need to consider all the implications, and to do so as part of our consideration of the wider consultation on public health. In the past 10 years since Tessa Jowell put forward her Private Member's Bill, there has been considerable movement on the whole area of tackling smoking. Not least are the changes in the public opinion towards smoking, and to the growing percentage of the population that does not smoke and has never smoked.
A YouGov poll published in the Daily Telegraph in December 2003 recorded that 49 per cent of respondents would support a complete ban on smoking in pubs, while 41 per cent would oppose such a ban. This is clearly a fairly balanced issue in this sector. However, the same poll recorded that for restaurants 83 per cent supported a ban, while only 14 per cent would oppose a ban. Even among smokers the majority, sometimes as many as 88 per cent in the case of shops, would support a ban on smoking in railway stations, factories, indoor shopping centres, restaurants, offices and shops. We know that 70 per cent of smokers want to give up the habit, and many would therefore welcome the opportunity to avoid the temptation in as many places as possible. As might be expected in each case, the percentage supporting a ban is higher among former smokers than those who have never smoked.
In addition to the changes in public opinion, there have been changes in workplace practice. It is no longer the case that the majority of us are exposed to smoke in the workplace. What used to be considered normal, people sharing an office with a chain smoker for example, would now be considered most unusual, with 86 per cent of workplaces either entirely smoke-free or with restrictions already in place to separate smoking from non-smoking common areas.
As my noble friend Lady Gale and Cancer UK have indicated, we are making progress. Smoking in cinemas, theatres, planes and the Underground is now thought of as something which previous generations had to endure; something from history. Indoor shopping malls are another area which have transformed people's everyday experience in the past 10 years. Many of these have been smoke-free from their inception. This year, we have seen places such as Salford and Newcastle's Metro Centre go smoke-free. Restaurants are rapidly moving in the same direction, with high street names such as Pizza Hut—which has been getting a jolly good commercial today—and Wagamama completely smoke-free, along with the National Trust property restaurants. One does not always think of the National Trust as being in the restaurant business, but millions of customers enjoy their food in a smoke-free environment, and their workers and volunteers are protected from the health dangers and other dangers of smoking.
543 Things are moving in the right direction, but we recognise that there is no room for complacency. We need to strike a right balance that takes proper account of public opinion. Now is the time to take stock of what has been achieved and where we go next in protecting people from second-hand smoke. This debate has come at an opportune time. On 3 March, the Government launched a major, nationwide public consultation exercise on the future of public health. As John Reid said last month, when he launched the consultation document Choosing Health,We need a big debate about the relative roles of Government, individuals and industries in tackling this vital challenge. We need to find the right balance, rejecting both the nanny state and the Pontius Pilate state which washes its hands of its citizens' health".We have examined the various international examples of bans on smoking in public places. Noble Lords will be aware—it has been mentioned today—that, in some states of the USA, there has been a state-wide ban on smoking in public places. Similar moves have been made in cities and towns in the USA and in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Last month, as noble Lords have said, the Republic of Ireland became the first country in Europe to go for entirely smoke-free indoor workplaces. Norway is adopting a similar approach in June of this year, and Sweden will bring in its own measures next year. Holland is also introducing smoke-free workplaces, although it is looking at bars and restaurants separately and considering how best to deal with that sector.
My noble friend Lady Gale described how bans in one place could have unexpected consequences in others, with her graphic description of Irish smokers pouring across the Irish Sea into Wales. It is important to note that different countries have taken different approaches, even where they have followed the route of legislation. They have tackled the problem of second-hand smoke according to the circumstances, the level of public demand and the strength of public opinion. The approach has not been uniform. The definition of public places in legislation differs from country to country and place to place. What has been appropriate for one state or city is not necessarily automatically transferable to another. In the USA, there has been a steady build-up in recent years of the enactment of local smoke-free legislation. As most people know, in New York, the decision was taken just over a year ago to make workplaces smoke-free. In many other towns and cities in the USA, they have not followed identical paths. In the US, there has been a gradual city-by-city, state-by-state progress indifferent ways.
What has perhaps been common in all places where smoke-free workplaces have been introduced is concern about the impact on business and the hospitality trade in particular. That has often been a point of controversy. I will not comment on the facts of what has happened elsewhere, other than to say that it cannot be assumed that the experience in any particular country would be identical to that here.
544 As I said, different approaches have been adopted in different countries. Even in the UK, there has been a measure of diversity. The Welsh Assembly has made its view known on the subject, and a separate Private Member's Bill introduced by the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff, relating exclusively to smoking in public places in Wales will be debated later today. In Scotland, a consultation on smoking in public was launched in January, as part of the Scottish Executive's tobacco control action plan, entitled A Breath of Fresh Air for Scotland. Additionally, a Private Member's Bill has been introduced in the Scottish Parliament containing measures to prevent people from being exposed to tobacco smoke in places where food is served and prepared. So, no uniform solution is being put forward, even by those in the UK who propose legislation as the best way forward. This Bill offers one possible way forward, one set of measures, but there are others.
I accept that there is significant public interest in the subject. It has been reflected in the comments of noble Lords today. The Bill is indicative of the wider debate on the subject and the pressure for more action. Growing concentration on the subject can also be seen in activity at local level. More than 30 towns and cities in England are now seeking ways of increasing the number of smoke-free public places within their boundaries. Big cities such as Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Exeter and Brighton, as well as smaller towns throughout the country, have been taking initiatives to see what they can do to protect people from second-hand smoke. The smoke-free cities network grew out of such local initiatives.
I am grateful to noble Lords who recognised the action that the Government have taken. The Government have an excellent record on tackling smoking. They have introduced a comprehensive programme that includes helping smokers to give up, and we have had considerable success with that. We have also reduced tobacco consumption. Again, the prevalence of smoking is falling in most groups. I suppose that is bad news for the noble Earl, Lord Errol, who seemed to encourage the Government to promote smoking, which I can assure him we will not do. We have also raised awareness of encouraging action on second-hand smoke. There is a year-round education and media campaign. New measures have been taken on labelling and regulation. Alongside that, there have been improvements in the taxation of tobacco products and in tackling smuggling.
Perhaps I may deal briefly with the argument put forward by some that second-hand smoke is not a real danger. In 1998, the Government's Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health published a report that clearly identified the dangers of second-hand smoke: namely, that it is a cause of lung cancer and childhood respiratory diseases; that it is a cause of heart disease and cot death; and that restrictions on smoking in public places and workplaces are necessary to protect non-smokers. That is the scientific evidence available to the Government.
545 We have since had the evidence from the World Health Organisation's International Agency for Research on Cancer in its June 2002 report, which classified second-hand smoke as a human carcinogen. There has been a growing body of international evidence that the SCOTH experts have been studying to update the 1998 report. The warnings on cigarette packs that the Government introduced now say:Smoking seriously harms you and others around you".As a number of noble Lords have indicated, I, too, recognise that this Bill is remarkably similar to that put forward by Tessa Jowell while in opposition in 1994. But, as I have outlined, things have moved on since then. Since they took office, measures taken by the Government to tackle smoking have moved things on far further than many campaigners would have dreamed of at the time.
More recently, we have had the Wanless report. The Government are also considering carefully the recommendations of that report in respect of taking action to tackle smoking in public places and in workplaces. The Wanless report looks at the potential gains from a ban on smoking in enclosed public places. It notes that interventions to improve public health have the potential to reduce personal freedoms. It goes on to say that there should be at least a strong consensus that public health measures are necessary to prevent harm to others.
As I have already said, on 3 March John Reid launched what has been described as the biggest consultation ever on public health. Headlined as one of the key consultation areas, there are questions relating to smoking in public places and workplaces. The consultation continues until the end of May. We will give everyone the maximum opportunity to take part and to answer questions on smoking in public places.
Perhaps I may briefly remind your Lordships of the specific questions being put to the public. Should the Government pass a law to make all enclosed workplaces and public places smoke-free? What about restaurants? What about pubs and bars? Would local authorities be better placed than central Government to introduce laws? Apart from bans, how could local towns and cities respond to calls for more smoke-free public areas?
As part of the consultation process, perhaps I may reassure my noble friend Lady Gibson that the HSE's advisory code of practice will be considered carefully. We will listen to the answers to those questions and consider carefully how best to carry out the wishes of the people. People are being given the opportunity to have their say. Therefore, in the Government's view, it would be quite wrong to respond today to the noble Lord's Private Member's Bill other than to thank him and others who support it, and then to allow the consultation to reach its conclusion.
The debate today has been a useful addition to the wider consultation that I mentioned. As I said, we have reservations about the content of the Bill. Until we have reached the conclusion of our wider consultation on public health, it would be premature to commit to one particular course of action. That is why I am urging patience today; 546 something that I suspect I' shall be doing for some time in the coming weeks. In conclusion, I pay tribute again to the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, for introducing the Bill. I am grateful to him and to other noble Lords who have contributed to the debate.
§ Lord McColl of Dulwich
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, will he confirm that the draft approved code of practice produced by the Health and Safety Executive has been rejected by the Government?
§ 3.20 p.m.
§ Lord Faulkner of Worcester
My Lords, I am reminded of a statement made by an American gentleman, Fletcher Knebel, who said that smoking is one of the leading causes of statistics. Certainly when I was listening to a number of speeches today— particularly the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart—that saying came very much to my mind.
I thank every noble Lord who has taken part in the debate. It has been very spirited and, at times, very entertaining, and a wide range of views have been expressed. Your Lordships will be relieved to know that I do not intend to go through each speech individually but merely to pick up on one or two points where noble Lords may have misunderstood me or I did not make myself clear in my opening speech.
Before I do so, however, I should express particular thanks to all noble Lords who have supported the Bill with such enthusiasm—my noble friends Lady Gale, Lady Gibson, and Lord Rea: the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, the noble Lord, Lord Addington, and also, from the Opposition Front Bench, the noble Lord, Lord McColl. He made the most clear exposition of Conservative policy on the issue of passive smoking that I have ever had the opportunity to listen to. The fact that it comes from a strong medical background lends tremendous weight to the points that he made.
The House owes a particular debt to all Members from a medical background who have contributed to the debate today. I would much rather listen to doctors on this subject than trust my own prejudices. Each of their contributions was outstanding.
Perhaps I may answer the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, in two ways. I think she understood the Bill to have the effect of not providing any protection for barmen and restaurant staff if they are working in bars or restaurants which have designated smoking areas. That is not the case. The point about the reserved smoking areas is that they are purely for members of the public; they are not intended for employees. The main purpose of the Bill is to protect employees from the effects of customers' passive smoke.
§ Baroness Trumpington
My Lords, I was arguing that in the Bill it states that people should have set times. It makes no mention of whether a barman is to be there for four hours or 12 hours. That was the point I was trying to make.
§ Lord Faulkner of Worcester
My Lords, the Bill seeks to ensure that the areas in bars where people are working are smoke free. So the bar staff will not be exposed to second-hand smoke.
The noble Baroness made a familiar point: that particular foods are as bad for you as tobacco. She referred particularly to butter and French fries. The one great difference between tobacco and all other products is that it is the only one which, when it is used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions, causes death and disease. That does not apply to butter or to French fries. We have incontrovertible evidence that tobacco is a product that kills. That is why the treatment of tobacco deserves to be different.
The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, whose speech I enjoyed very much because, as he said, his views are not much different from mine—indeed, he expressed them in the debate on the Bill of the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, in January—in regard to the need to segregate smokers from non-smokers. His main point was that the Bill is not necessary. On consideration, having listened to the other speeches and the fact that there are 3 million employees in this country who are exposed to the effects of other people's smoke, I hope he will agree that if we cannot get a very satisfactory and rapid adoption of a voluntary practice, legislation of this kind will be necessary.
The noble Lord, Lord Monson, said that he did not think public transport was included in the Bill. It is included in Part 1 of the schedule. The noble Earl, Lord Erroll, asked whether the Bill sought to ban smoking altogether. I do not think the noble Earl was in his seat at the start of the debate because, if he had been, he would have heard me say in my opening words that this is not a Bill to ban smoking but to limit its application in public places.
§ The Earl of Erroll
My Lords, I asked whether it was part of a drive; I realise that it is not in itself an attempt to ban smoking.
§ Lord Faulkner of Worcester
My Lords, the Bill is not part of a drive; it will do what it says it will do.
Finally, I should like to comment on the speech of my noble friend Lord Warner, which I found very encouraging and interesting. The fact that there is obviously some government irritation at the speed with which the hospitality industry is adopting the public places charter is understandable. One of the messages that will go out from this debate is that when the Minister meets the industry in May, he can say that there is a very strong body of opinion which believes that much faster progress needs to be made.
548 The Government may wish to remind the industry that at the beginning, when the charter was set up in 1998–99, they said that they expected fast and substantial progress. By last year, at least, one in three pubs was still completely non-compliant with the code and nearly half of compliant pubs allowed unrestricted smoking throughout. They have a very long way to go before they match even their own modest ambitions.
There was one point that the noble Lord, Lord McColl, made, and I should have referred to it earlier. He talked about whether driving smokers out of workplaces and the hospitality industry means that they will smoke more at home. I am assured that the evidence from Australia, where a workplace smoking ban has been in force for some years, shows that people are smoking less at home as well and it is reducing the prevalence of smoking. Certainly, if the experience of my family is anything to go by, my daughter, who smokes spasmodically, but not heavily, is monitored by her 11 year-old daughter, who demands to know each day how many cigarettes her mother has smoked and reprimands her if it is more than the day before.
The basis of tackling smoking in the home, I suspect, will be peer pressure in the same way as it is applied on public transport and in all the other areas where smoking has been banned.
I thank all noble Lords for taking part in the debate. I take on board very much what my noble friend Lord Warner has said, and I commend the Bill to the House.
§ On Question, Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.