HC Deb 10 November 1980 vol 992 cc72-4W
Mr. Moyle

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what he considers to be a feasible expansion of health education during the next three financial years; and what estimate he has made of the extra cost of such a programme.

Sir George Young

The Health Education Council is being provided with an extra £500,000 in the current financial year for a new anti-smoking initiative specially directed at children and young teenagers.

This new initiative, which will complement the council's continuing "Look after yourself" campaign directed mainly at adults, will aim to educate young people about the risks of smoking and thus discourage them from starting this very dangerous habit.

It will provide support to the health education already being carried out in the schools. Subject to overall public spending constraints, my right hon. Friend proposes to make additional funds available to the council in following years in order that this important new initiative might be continued and developed.

Mr. Moyle

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what estimate he has made of the annual cost to his departmental budget and the budget of the National Health Service if the recommendations of the Black working group on smoking were implemented; what would be the offsetting savings to the National Health Service budget; and whether he intends to implement those recommendations.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

The cost of these recommendations would depend on the scope and method of implementation, and the savings resulting on the effectiveness of the measures. Neither can readily be estimated.

I welcome the group's support for stronger measures to reduce cigarette smoking. I also accept its recommendation that the provision of non-smoking areas in public places should steadily be extended, and will welcome experiments in ways of helping people to cut down their smoking. I would need further evidence, however, that counselling services are cost-effective before considering recommending that they should be introduced in every health district.

Negotiations with the tobacco industry on what is to follow the existing voluntary agreement on such matters as advertising and the health warning, are continuing. So long as progress by agreement is possible, I believe it would be wrong to introduce legislation on advertising. I reject the suggestion that the Government should interfere in the affairs of the industry by requiring companies to submit plans for the diversification of their products, but I note that such diversification has already begun.

Sponsorship of sporting and artistic activities are primarily matters for my hon. Friend the Minister with responsibility for sport and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, respectively, and the level of taxation on cigarettes is a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but I shall continue to take a close interest in these matters.