Orders of the Day — Smoking in Public Places (Wales) Bill
Ms Julie Morgan (Cardiff North, Labour)
I thank my hon. and learned Friend for that intervention. Yes, I have discussed the Bill with all those to whom he refers, and there is general sympathy with the aims.
Over 200 posters were submitted by local children to illustrate my Bill and they showed the depth of their perception of the dangers of passive smoking, and the unfairness of being unable to breathe smoke-free air because of what some of the children saw as the selfishness of some adults. They used captions such as, "Stop the ciggies, save the kiddies", "Stop smoking and we will stop choking", "Think—don't smoke around your children. Your children's lungs are not an ashtray", "Smoker, loser, loner—get the picture?", and in Welsh, "Tân y ddraig, nid mwg yr ysgyfaint"—that is, "The fire of the dragon, not the smoke from your lungs". Those children's words remind us of the terrible damage smoking does to people in Wales.
Smoking-related illness causes about 6,000 deaths in Wales each year, as the Library's excellent research paper shows. For example, in 2001 just over 15,000 new cancer cases were recorded in Wales, and we can expect about 30 per cent. to have resulted from smoking. The proportion of adults in Wales who smoke is approximately 27 per cent.—higher than the figure in England, reflecting the fact that Wales is a poorer country.
The overall figure hides wide variations between different parts of Wales, but particularly between different communities and social classes. I remind hon. Members that smoking is the greatest single contributor to health inequalities and to differences in life expectancy between social classes. We know that people who are poorer smoke more. To quote one stark statistic, on average across the UK a man in social class 5, the poorest, has a 50 per cent. chance of living to the age of 70, while a man in social class 1, the richest, has about a 70 per cent. chance of doing so, and by far the largest factor in that difference is smoking. Surely it is imperative that we do something about that huge risk. Anyone who cares about the most basic measure of social equality—how long we live—must care about smoking.
During the past 50 years, successive Governments have taken steps to cut smoking rates. We have already raised prices, put warnings on packets, banned advertising and restricted sales to minors.