§ Baroness Jeger
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Why they are proposing to ban tobacco advertising while at the same time subsidising tobacco farms in European Union countries; and how much of United Kingdom taxpayers' money has been spent during the last financial year on such subsidies. [HL3170]
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hayman)
Smoking is the single most important cause of preventable illness and premature death in the United Kingdom. The Government want to reduce the exposure of children and young people to tobacco advertising. That is why we gave a manifesto commitment to ban tobacco advertising as part of a fully-developed tobacco control strategy.
The Government strongly disapprove of the tobacco regime which exists as part of the Common Agriculture Policy. We believe that the Community should progressively disengage from support for tobacco productions on grounds of health and cost. We will continue to press for further progress in this area following the reform of the regime agreed in June last year.
In 1998, the European Union spent 870 million ecu (£584 million*) on subsidies under the EU tobacco regime. Member states contribute to the EU budget as a whole and not to any particular part. Our contribution is about 17 per cent, before our Fontainebleau abatement is taken into account.
* Using an exchange rate of £1 = 1.4887 ecu.