HC Deb 23 July 1975 vol 896 cc246-7W
Mrs. Wise

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when she expects the first report of the Independent Scientific Committee on Smoking and Health to be published.

Dr. Owen

My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Social Services, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are publishing today the first report of this committee, under the chairmanship of Dr. R. B. Hunter, Vice-Chancellor of Birmingham University. The report recommends guidelines on the testing and marketing of substitutes and additives in tobacco products. Copies of the report are available in the Vote Office.

Possible substitutes for tobacco have been increasingly developed as the danger to health of cigarette smoking has become more widely realised. But it is vital that the health risks in substitutes themselves should be fully explored. The Hunter Committee has recommended a three stage process for testing substitutes before marketing and long-term studies to monitor the health effects on humans. The Government, as an immediate measure, will seek assurances from companies concerned that they will follow these guidelines in all respects.

Manufacturers and importers wish to market cigarettes containing additives in the United Kingdom. The uncontrolled use of additives in tobacco products would introduce risks to health which have to be evaluated and guarded against as the protection currently given by revenue laws is relaxed. Her Majesty's Government are considering what measures are needed to these ends.

In the interim, before reaching a view on marketing, assurances will be sought from companies wishing to market in the United Kingdom any tobacco product containing an additive that they would abide by the guidelines recommended in the Hunter Report in all respects. My Department will also be asking companies for qualitative and quantitative information concerning additives currently in use in each of their products.