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Orders of the Day — Cigarettes (Health Hazards) Bill

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th May 1964.

Alert me about debates like this

Order for Second Reading read.

2.40 p.m.

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Willesden West

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

In moving the Second Reading of the Bill, I should like once again to point out that it is an extremely small Measure, concerned with a very narrow point. It seeks to contribute in a small way to solving an extremely difficult problem. At the outset, I plead with hon. Members to approach the Bill entirely dispassionately, although I realise that it will be extremely difficult for them to do so. Whether or not they like it, most hon. Members have a positive attitude to smoking. There is a great deal of feeling among smokers that it is wrong, and because of this they feel a little guilty, and feel that they must defend their action. As for nonsmokers, they often have a feeling of self-righteousness. They feel that it is a good thing not to smoke and that they are strong-willed in refusing to smoke. Again, on their part their is apt to be a prejudiced attitude on the subject.

I therefore ask hon. Members to put away the inherent prejudices that exist in most of us and to try to approach the subject in the context of the health hazard that smoking constitutes. I approach the subject purely from the point of view of seeking ways and means by which our National Health Service can prevent rather than cure illness. I do not raise the subject because I am anti-smoking. I do not like being anti-anything. Usually the "antis" have very little effect on any of the major changes in our lives.

I am faced with the fact that this is an enormous problem. We have had a number of medical and scientific reports which make us well aware that cigarete smoking is a major contributory factor to illnesses which, in certain parts of the anatomy, cause considerable distress and pain and an enormous number of deaths. It is because I am trying to be constructive that I have restricted the Bill to so narrow a point. I realise that if I move very far I shall be in the realm of controversy, and I am seeking to be non-controversial. That is why I hope that the House will give the Bill a Second Reading and go on to debate it in its further stages.

I am not a kill-joy. The last thing that I want to do is to prevent people having pleasure if smoking gives them pleasure. I am not seeking to restrict anybody's freedom of action. If people choose to smoke it is their responsibility—although to some extent it is also the responsibility of everybody. I do not want to prohibit smoking, but I want people, especially teen-agers who are just contracting the habit, to be able to go into it with their eyes open, well aware of what they are risking.

When I sought the leave of the House to introduce the Bill, I made it clear that I was not trying to persuade hon. Members or any of the more mature sections of our population to change their habits, although recent statistical and medical research shows that the extent to which they do cut down cigarette smoking reduces their chances of death from lung cancer and bronchitis.

Inevitably, the problem from the health point of view is focussed on lung cancer. The House will recall that on Monday of this week the Parliamentary Secretary gave us the latest breakdown of figures, which shows that a total of 27,000-plus deaths per annum are now caused directly by lung cancer, of which medical and scientific opinion believes that cigarette smoking contributes the major part. I do not know how I can get this fact over to people who are anxious not to believe it.

Photo of Mr Trevor Skeet Mr Trevor Skeet , Willesden East

This is a very important matter. Does the hon. Member consider that the writing on a packet of cigarettes will be read by a teen-ager? Does not he think that the teenager will simply open the packet and take out a cigarette without reading the instructions?

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Willesden West

I am grateful to the hon. Member for that intervention but I shall deal with that point in due course, I want to refer to it in that part of my contribution which I consider to be most suitable, rather than at this stage, which I believe to be a little premature.

I was trying to deal with the gravity of the problem, and the ways in which we could bring it home to the people. I have tried to do this before in the House, and I have found it very difficult. One can juggle with figures and say that there are so many of this and so many of that, but when one finishes nobody is very much the wiser.

I am sure that after the Whitsun holiday there will be huge newspaper headlines concerning the number of deaths caused on the roads during the three-day holiday period. On present-day figures, as given by the Parliamentary Secretary, it is clear that during the same three-day period 220 people will die of lung cancer. If that figure were headlined in the newspapers nobody would ignore it. Everybody would feel that something would have to be done about the problem, just as they do when they read headlines about the unfortunate number of road deaths, which are inevitable when we suddenly have a much greater percentage of cars on the road during holiday periods.

But it is not merely lung cancer to which the smoking habit contributes. As I have said before, last year we lost 31 million production days because of bronchitis. That is six times the number of days lost because of strikes. We lost another 30 million days due to heart and circulation diseases. Only last week we heard of another 18 million days lost through mental stress diseases. These are problems which the community cannot ignore, and if smoking makes a contribution to chonic bronchitis we must try to take preventive action.

Every winter, at some stage or other my hospital gets what we call a red warning. Beds have to be cleared when the weather is excessively cold and there is a possibility of fog, because we know that many chronic chest illnesses will have to be catered for. Every bed that is occupied must be paid for by the taxpayer, as must every consultant who is appointed. The whole ramification of the Health Service which deals with the problem illustrates the responsibility of the community. Ultimately this House is responsible.

When Richard Doll, the expert in this line of country—who wrote his report in 1950, and is now on the Medical Research Council—says that he is quite certain that the total number of deaths from chronic bronchitis last year which may be attributed to smoking amounted to 15,000, we feel that we have a responsibility to do something about it.

Photo of Mr Dudley Smith Mr Dudley Smith , Brentford and Chiswick

I support the hon. Gentleman's argument. Would he not agree that it is much easier to get people who have chronic bronchitis to give up smoking when they realise that they are seriously affected than it is with the smoker who goes merrily along thinking that it can never happen to him and who then dies from lung cancer when he is 45 or 50?

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Willesden West

The hon. Gentleman has put his finger on the point. I believe that the hon. Member for Willesden, East (Mr. Skeet) followed me in a visit to a chronic bronchitic ward where we saw people at the tail end of their lives who were literally gasping for every breath. There is no difficulty about persuading these people, but for them it is too late. One would have liked to have got those people when they first contracted the habit.

Another factor which constantly reminds those of us who are concerned with health about this subject is the number of friends and hon. Members who suddenly pass away from coronory thrombosis. The increasing incidence of coronory thrombosis in recent years has caused much concern in the medical profession and the National Health Service. I am not a medical man and I can only quote Richard Doll of the Medical Research Council who states that of the total number of coronaory thrombosis deaths, he estimates that 10,000 would have been prevented had the people concerned not been smokers. We are dealing with a large order of preventive medicine in which it is possible to do something.

We come up against the internal problem of our own prejudices and our own reluctance to face up to the problems involved. I cannot stress too much that this is not a question of good and bad. We must get away from thinking that this is a moral or immoral matter. It is purely a matter of the contribution to good or bad health. This is not something in which to take pride or feel holy about if one does not do it, or guilty about if one does. It must be regarded far more as a matter of health. We recently had the estimate that of all the children at present at school, 250,000 will die of lung cancer because of the contracting of the habit of smoking, which many take up from the ages of 11 and 12 onwards.

When we are seeking in our defence to get rid of our guilty feelings, or to persuade ourselves that this is not our responsibility, we put up a number of alternative courses. Air pollution contributes to and causes lung cancer. Excessive diesel fumes contribute to and cause lung cancer. There are many things in industry and elsewhere which contribute to and cause lung cancer. We have sought to have clean air legislation and industrial medicine to clean un the factories; but the fact that there are other contributory causes does not mean that we should not try to do anything about the cause about which we know something and about which we can do something effective.

I remind hon. Members that in the year before last the Minister of Health reported that in Jersey, where cigarette smoking is rather high because it is much cheaper there than it is here and where there is an absence of air pollution from industry or diesel fumes, the death rate from lung cancer was higher than elsewhere in Western Europe. I am not trying to excuse or condemn. All I am asking is that we should not ride away on our excuse of other causes. We should try to tackle those things as well, and if hon. Members bring forward proposals to stop those other loopholes, I shall be the first to support them.

There is another excuse. It is said that there are other things which cause trouble; drink, for instance. Of course one is against excessive alcoholism and one does all one can legally and by persuasion to stop it. But because people die of alcoholism is no reason why we should say that we can ignore smoking and that it does not matter what we do with something equally bad. Let us tackle all these things in their right place. As the father of two children I am reminded that when I have tried to tell one that something wrong has been done, the answer has been, "Yes, that is true, but yesterday the other did something wrong, and therefore I must be excused today". This argument about smoking and lung cancer comes into that category. It is said that some action must be taken to prevent the growth of the smoking habit, but as there are other things we cannot do anything about, let us sit back and wait for something else to happen!

Photo of Mr Lawrence Orr Mr Lawrence Orr , South Down

The hon. Member is advancing his case with great moderation and skill and I am sorry to interrupt him. He was talking about alcohol. Would he think it reasonable, for example, to insist that underneath where it says on the label of a bottle of Guinness "Guinness is good for you", it should be said "Guinness is not good for you"?

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Willesden West

The hon. and gallant Member comes from Ireland and I would be reluctant to say anything about Guinness, especially as the firm happens to be in my constituency. However, I believe that any labelling should be for information rather than advertising, and in that respect I go further than just Guinness and include any product. If there are hazards, if it is said that with a normal constitution a man with a blood pressure of so and so would find that 15 Guinnesses put him under the table, I like to hope that something like that will be done. I am not going as far as that, because I am concerned only with this very narrow Bill about this very wide subject.

On Monday, the Parliamentary Secretary reminded the House that there were four times as many deaths from lung cancer as from road accidents. It would be a false argument to say to the Minister of Transport that because of those figures there was no need for him to campaign for road safety, no necessity to put up signs saying that there was danger on the road, no necessity for the hoardings saying, "If you drink, don't drive and if you drive, don't drink". Of course, we want his position to be strengthened and if we could bring forward more Private Members' Bills to strengthen it, we would do so. But that does not alter the fact that we have this responsibility towards the health of the people.

The Bill is very small. It has only three Clauses, of which the third is purely technical. The first makes it obligatory for notices to be printed on cigarette packets. I am not seeking to be very dogmatic about these notices. Those of us who have served on Standing Committees have spent tedious hours discussing whether this or that would be acceptable. When we have discussed hire purchase, we have discussed in what form the wording should be printed and the size of the type.

I do not want to get into an argument of that kind. I am concerned that these things should be judged on the grounds of health and that the notice should simply receive the approval of the Ministry of Health. If the Ministry of Health is satisfied with a notice in very small type, so small that it can hardly be seen, I will be satisfied, for I am content to leave the responsibility entirely to the Ministry. I am certain that it is well aware of these problems and quite capable of reaching some kind of solution.

Clause 2 gives the penalty, which is quite a steep one. I did this because I felt that this Clause was never likely to be used. I said, when I sought leave to introduce the Bill, that I thought there would not be a great deal of resistance from the manufacturers. I am afraid that I was over-optimistic. Shortly afterwards—but not at all connected with the introduction of the Bill—I had a very enjoyable luncheon with the Imperial Tobacco Company, which wanted to discuss the matter further and thought that perhaps it could be done better on an informal occasion. It was an extremely enjoyable luncheon. The company put its point of view and I put mine. I was a little disappointed. I thought that because I was suggesting a reasonable thing the company would have no resistance, but I am afraid that the chairman informed me that in fact it would not exactly welcome it, although he did not say that the company would be prepared to disobey any Order, at least it was in opposition.

Photo of Sir Frederick Burden Sir Frederick Burden , Gillingham

I wonder whether the company offered the hon. Gentleman a large supply of cigarettes for a couple of years in case it might hasten the disease in his own case.

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Willesden West

I will let that point go. I intimated when I sought the leave of the House to introduce this Bill that I thought that one manufacturer was considering it. Indeed, one manufacturer was, but I am afraid the consideration has gone no further. I had hoped that by the time the Bill got to Second Reading I would be able, with a flourish of trumpets, to say that company X was prepared to take some action. But, of course, company X is in competition with companies Y and Z, and company X, at this stage, at any rate, is not prepared to go much further. I hope that I did not mislead the House because I was quite genuine in knowing that the matter was under discussion; but in spite of the fact that the horse went to the water I am afraid that on this occasion it has not decided to drink.

There is no great onerous cost concerning this. Cigarette packets have to be printed, and I think that the cost of changing the design would be negligible if it were decided that there should be on the back of each packet some little notice which said that there were certain hazards attached to smoking. Even if there were some small cost, in the light of the fact that the total expenditure on cigarette advertising is estimated to be nudging £11 million a year, just a little shade on the other side might not be weighting the scales too strongly in favour of health.

I take up the point made by the hon. Member for Willesden, East (Mr. Skeet) when he interrupted me earlier. No hon. Member thinks that the teenager will go into a shop, buy a packet of cigarettes, read the warning, go back to the shopkeeper and say, "Please can I have my money back—I want jelly babies instead." This Bill will have a negligible amount of immediate effect. Why, then, have it? This is where I most earnestly ask the House to let this Bill go forward. Somewhere, somehow, we have to bring it home that this is a vital and serious problem.

Although this is only a small Measure, it is a measure of the apex of government in this House, the final word of authority, that the House of Commons wishes to draw the attention of young people to these hazards. It will show that we have taken this matter seriously, that we are not just shrugging it off and saying, "Well, there are diesel fumes from which I might die; I might be run over when I go out. I might as well die of lung cancer because I have got to die of something at some time." We are showing that as a community we have a responsibility in trying to prevent illness when it is preventable, and a responsibility in trying to preserve the limited amount of finance that we can afford on health and in making sure that it is spent on things that are not preventable and not spent on things for which we think we can have some form of prevention.

All that this Bill is doing is what the Minister of Transport does when seeking to reduce the number of road deaths. He puts notices up to say that there is a dangerous bend, or that the road narrows, or that there is some point at which people should pay special attention. If they do not pay attention that, so far as this Bill is concerned, is nothing to do with us. We shall have done our duty in saving that there is a health hazard, that this is what the health hazard comprises, that if one contracts the habit of smoking one will have a job to break it, and that the ultimate consequences may be disastrous to one and costly to the nation.

3.5 p.m.

Photo of Mr John Vaughan-Morgan Mr John Vaughan-Morgan , Reigate

I must apologise to the hon. Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt) because I did not hear the first part of his speech. I was held up by a traffic census which the Minister of Transport instituted, and therefore I missed the hon. Gentleman's opening remarks. However, from what I heard, I thought that he stated his case with great reason and great moderation, but at the end I came to the conclusion that he did not really think that his Bill was the right way of implementing the kind of ambition that he has.

I promise my hon. Friends that I shall not speak for very long, but I have a continuing and abiding interest in this subject. About seven years ago I occupied the post now occupied by my hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine) and it fell to my lot to make the first announcement that was ever made about lung cancer and smoking. I was in the fortunate position of having been a non-smoker for about nine years before that announcement, and I found that it stood me in very good stead on that occasion.

Although I am a non-smoker, and my wife is also a non-smoker, and I have managed to bring up two daughters to be non-smokers—partly by bribery I am afraid—and I have married off one of my daughters to a non-smoker, on the occasion to which I have just referred I was very struck indeed by the responsibility which the tobacco companies showed. If anyone doubts that, I ask him to contrast the behaviour of the tobacco manufacturers in America when a similar announcement was made there.

Photo of Mr Trevor Skeet Mr Trevor Skeet , Willesden East

My right hon. Friend has achieved something remarkable in persuading so many people not to smoke. Has he some form of restriction or some rather ingenious inducement by which he achieved that success?

Photo of Mr John Vaughan-Morgan Mr John Vaughan-Morgan , Reigate

In the case of my two daughters it was straight bribery. I told them that if they reached the age of 21 without smoking I would give them a present. They fell for it though I never actually said what the present was going to be. I got away with it, and I recommend that method to those of my hon. Friends who are parents, and, indeed, to hon. Gentlemen opposite too.

I think that we have to approach the whole problem very circumspectly. I should like to see smoking generally abandoned. I hope that in the course of time excessive smoking, or indeed, smoking itself, will become an unpopular social habit, just as excessive drinking is now as compared with the second half of the 18th century. That will, of course, take time, and for all we know before then some antidote may have been discovered which will ensure that lung cancer is no longer caused by smoking.

I am always very fearful of any violent change, and I think that we have to be very careful about the methods which we adopt, and indeed the propaganda which we adopt, so as not to frighten people too much. The Ministry of Health puts out some excellent propaganda. Much good work is done in schools, and more credit to the teachers who can get the story over, and they can get it over better if they are nonsmokers themselves. That is the right way to do it. We must try to change the habit gradually, and not try to make us a nation of neurotics, which is what would happen if people gave up smoking overnight. No one need regret giving up smoking. By doing so he becomes richer, though probably fatter, and has the pleasure of watching his colleagues contribute more to taxation than he does. But let us do it carefully and gradually, and, above all, do not let us get hysterical about it.

The hon. Gentleman proposes one particular method, and I take it seriously, although I do not think that he is advocating it as anything more than a peg on which to hang admirable propaganda. I can see that the immediate effect will be that no one will take this seriously, and nothing is more serious than propaganda not being taken seriously. It merely recoils on the cause which it is advocating. I hope that we shall all lend our support to anything which the Ministry can do in the way of further education. I hope that we shall all do our best to persuade those members of the younger generation over whom we have any influence not to smoke, but I hope that we shall not adopt methods which in my view are calculated in the long run to do more harm than good.

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Willesden West

I agree with the right hon. Member about the admirable propaganda which is being carried out, and that we should endeavour to educate people. Is he aware that we spent £32,000 last year on those methods, compared with £11½ million which was spent on persuading people to smoke? Is not it more than just a peg on which to hang an argument? Is not it important that we should try to do something positive as well?

Photo of Mr John Vaughan-Morgan Mr John Vaughan-Morgan , Reigate

I think it only fair to answer that point. One is overwhelmed by a mass of tobacco advertising. It has no effect on me and so it is hard for me to judge. But if one analyses that advertising—and we must be fair to the tobacco manufacturers; they must be just as anxious to make money out of something else if they could—they are advocating, not smoking, but their own brand of cigarette as opposed to another brand. I do not believe that propaganda, in itself, makes an enormous number of people smoke. The counter-propaganda is infinitely more effective.

3.11 p.m.

Photo of Mr Ronald Russell Mr Ronald Russell , Wembley South

I should like to congratulate the hon. Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt) on the moderate way in which he introduced the Bill and the reasonable attitude which he has adopted to the whole question of smoking. I should like to make clear—I think that the hon. Member would agree with me—that most of what has been said this afternoon refers to smoking in general. This Bill deals with cigarette smoking only. I take it that no one would maintain that pipe smoking or cigar smoking is attended by any hazard at all.

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Willesden West

I endorse what the hon. Member has said. I should almost be prepared to bring in a Bill designed to encourage people to smoke pipes and cigars rather than cigarettes.

Photo of Mr Ronald Russell Mr Ronald Russell , Wembley South

I think it a good thing to make that point clear. No one has tried to condemn pipe smoking or cigar smoking. Most of us would agree that my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir. W. Churchill) is a good example of the lack of danger attending cigar smoking. I do not know whether my right hon. Friend still smokes cigars, but it is not many years ago when he did.

I have the same point of view on this matter as my right hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Sir. J. Vaughan-Morgan). If we are to try to discourage smoking, it is much better that we should try to do so by persuasion rather than compulsion. I am a non-smoker, except for an occasional cigar, and have been for nine years. Most of my family are nonsmokers. I do not try to impose any ban on them smoking, but I did use the kind of bribery referred to by my right hon. Friend the Member for Reigate.

I should like to see more effort made to persuade tobacco manufacturers before we consider exercising compulsion. So far as I know, the tobacco manufacturers have been quite reasonable about television advertising. They agreed to discontinue any advertising of cigarettes on television until just before the 9 o'clock news and I think I am right in saying that they have agreed to abandon completely in all forms of advertising certain advertising themes which the I.T.A. persuaded them to abandon in connection with television advertising. I think that they have given £250,000 towards more research into the effect of smoking.

Photo of Mr Dudley Smith Mr Dudley Smith , Brentford and Chiswick

Would not my hon. Friend agree that television advertising for cigarettes is still subtle and effective?

Photo of Mr Ronald Russell Mr Ronald Russell , Wembley South

Yes, I agree that it may be, and if any other methods, again short of compulsion, can be brought about to persuade them to modify it in any way, I should be only too happy. However, I am all for persuasion rather than compulsion. I do not believe in legislating against advertising if we can help it. I am sure that the business world knows how to run advertising. There is the health question here, but, all the same, I would much prefer to see a greater effort made to persuade them before we start compulsion.

I endorse what the hon. Gentleman said about the possibility of lung cancer being caused by diesel or petrol fumes. I know that research is going on into that matter at the present time, and no doubt, in the long run, something will come out of it. I am not altogether satisfied at the moment that cigarette smoking is the most potent cause of lung cancer. It may be that petrol or diesel fumes may be found to be more serious causes. However, we must accept the decision of the Royal College of Physicians that cigarette smoking is the major cause.

Photo of Mr Trevor Skeet Mr Trevor Skeet , Willesden East

My hon. Friend has mentioned diesel fumes. There is very little evidence to show that there is any connection between lung cancer and diesel fumes. I accept that there is a link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer but not between lung cancer and diesel fumes.

Photo of Mr Ronald Russell Mr Ronald Russell , Wembley South

I note what my hon. Friend says and if it can be proved that diesel fumes are or are not a cause, all to the good. Perhaps I should stress petrol fumes rather than diesel fumes. They are, I think, likely to be a greater hazard than diesel fumes because of the much larger quantity of petrol used. It may be that they will be found to be a greater curse in this respect.

I do not wish to detain the House any longer, but I hope that we shall try much more persuasion in discouraging cigarette smoking before we resort to compulsion.

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Willesden West

May I point out that this is precisely what the Bill is about? It is persuasion. We are not forcing anybody not to smoke. The fact that a warning is printed on packets of cigarettes will mean that people will read it, but if they still decide to go on smoking after reading the warning that is their decision.

Photo of Mr Ronald Russell Mr Ronald Russell , Wembley South

I prefer persuasion rather than legislation. After all, the Bill makes it illegal to sell packets of cigarettes without the warning being printed on them.

Photo of Dr Alan Glyn Dr Alan Glyn , Wandsworth Clapham

My hon. Friend has laid stress on persuasion. If, in fact, we were to compel manufacturers under this Bill to print the warning, is it not likely that they might retract on some of the voluntary agreements which they have made about restricting advertising on television?

Photo of Mr Ronald Russell Mr Ronald Russell , Wembley South

That is quite possible.

3.19 p.m.

Photo of Mr Marcus Lipton Mr Marcus Lipton , Lambeth Brixton

I find myself in full disagreement with the hon. Member for Wembley, South (Sir. R. Russell). He followed in the dubious footsteps of his right hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Sir. J. Vaughan-Morgan), dubious in the sense that he was putting forward dubious arguments to the effect that it was better to achieve the desired result in the Bill by persuasion rather than by compulsion.

It strikes me as being completely unreasonable to expect cigarette manufacturers to do voluntarily anything which is likely to reduce the sale of cigarettes. They would be in breach of faith to their shareholders if they followed that policy. It is their job to sell cigarettes, and the more they can sell the happier they are and the more contented are their shareholders. That is the blunt fact that we must face.

Photo of Mr Ronald Russell Mr Ronald Russell , Wembley South

They have already agreed to stop certain forms of advertising.

Photo of Mr John Vaughan-Morgan Mr John Vaughan-Morgan , Reigate

The hon. Gentleman mentioned some of the people concerned. He will not forget the workers as well as the shareholders, I hope.

Photo of Mr Marcus Lipton Mr Marcus Lipton , Lambeth Brixton

All kinds of people have a financial interest in the habit of cigarette smoking, and it cannot be challenged that those with the biggest financial interest are the tobacco companies. Hon. Members opposite point to one or two minor reforms or improvements that have been achieved—as they think, as the result of persuasion; as I think, as a result of the strong effect on public opinion of medical research into the relationship between smoking and lung cancer.

I remember raising this matter years ago in the House, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Reigate, who then occupied an important position in the Ministry of Health, reproved me, and seemed to be very indignant with me, for trying, in my own humble way, to warn the public of a definite connection between smoking and lung cancer. Years, later, after research, the Royal College issued a statement that not even the most obtuse person could possibly challenge.

The vast amount spent on tobacco advertising has been mentioned. The right hon. Member for Reigate says, "They are not advertising the advantages of smoking, or of tobacco; they are advertising their own particular brand which they want people to buy." I can only say that if he finds it possible to make such a distinction he is free to do so—

Photo of Mr John Vaughan-Morgan Mr John Vaughan-Morgan , Reigate

The answer to that point is that I do not smoke, so I am able to resist the advertising.

Photo of Mr Marcus Lipton Mr Marcus Lipton , Lambeth Brixton

In the opinion of some people, that fact would be an added reason for not accepting the right hon. Gentleman's views on the subject.

There is undoubtedly strong medical evidence that smoking—and cigarette smoking in particular—is a cause of lung cancer. I will not put it any higher than that, but it is enough to present a problem about which we should be carefully thinking all the time. It was revealed in this House just the other day that deaths from lung cancer are higher that ever before, and are now running at about 30,000 a year. That terrible state of affairs cannot just be brushed to one side.

The hon. Member for Wembley, South quoted the case of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Sir. W. Churchill), who has been smoking for the last 70 years or so, but he must remember that the right hon. Member for Woodford is such an exceptional person that it would be most unwise to try to generalise from what one might call a unique specimen of that kind—

Photo of Mr Ronald Russell Mr Ronald Russell , Wembley South

My right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir. W. Churchill) smokes cigars.

Photo of Mr Marcus Lipton Mr Marcus Lipton , Lambeth Brixton

If there is anything in that argument it is that if people want to smoke they should be encouraged to smoke cigars rather than cigarettes, but even after 13 years of Conservative rule the society in which we live is not so affluent as to enable everyone who wants to smoke to smoke cigars in preference to cigarettes.

We have to come back to the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt), who is trying to make a contribution to tackling this problem. It is not a problem that can be played about with by talking about the times during which cigarettes are advertised on television. Nor is the argument in favour of the Bill destroyed by pointing out that the tobacco manufacturers have contributed £250,000 for research. But for the report of the Royal College of Physicians and the public interest taken in the matter I do not believe that the tobacco manufacturers would have made a contribution of that kind for this form of research.

All the things which hon. Members opposite have put forward as reasons for leasing the tobacco manufacturers alone work the other way round. All these concessions have been forced out of them. It is no use trying to pretend that they were voluntary, magnanimous concessions on the part of cigarette manufacturers who, out of their own good will, have eagerly come forward to make these various adjustments which hon. Members opposite advance as reasons why the Bill should not be accepted. I hope that the presence of an unusually large number of Conservative Members does not betoken a desire on their part to talk the Bill out or to raise frivolous objections. I hope that some of them at least have come here this afternoon, no doubt at considerable inconvenience to themselves, to say a few words in support of the Bill.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

They can still talk it out.

Photo of Mr Marcus Lipton Mr Marcus Lipton , Lambeth Brixton

As my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), with his long experience of Parliamentary procedure, has pointed out, it is still possible for them to talk it out, but I hope that they will not be quite so stony hearted as that. I hope that they will show a better appreciation of the reality of the problem and will not talk out a really good attempt to enable everybody to know and to be reminded when they smoke a cigarette that they are incurring a risk. That is all that the Bill seeks to do. It will not deter people who want to smoke. It will not add to the cost of cigarette manufacture, because a certain amount of printing has to be done on the packet anyhow and a few more words of warning will not add to the expense of production. I hope therefore that the Bill will obtain if not a unanimous Second Reading at least one which by a free vote of the House will enable it to proceed further on its way to the Statute Book.

3.29 p.m.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

The hon. Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton) spoke of talking out the Bill. I thought at one stage in his speech that he himself was trying to do that, because I do not think that he added anything in his remarks to what was said by the hon. Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt) who spoke with great charm and lucidity though he failed to conquer my doubts about the Bill.

As the hon. Member for Willesden, West said, the problem which the Bill raises is a vital and serious one, but I am not persuaded that this approach is helpful. I agree most strongly with my right hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Sir. J. Vaughan-Morgan) when he says that he is for persuasion and not for coercion. I do not dispute for a moment what the hon. Member for Willesden, West has said about lung cancer and the other diseases of which cigarette smoking has been pronounced by the Royal College of Physicians to be a major cause. I accept that, but as a layman I have a certain scepticism as to the complete and utter finality of medical judgments.

The hon. Member for Brixton commented on the unusual number of Conservative Members present for this debate. I do not think that it is an unusual number. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman is here so seldom on Fridays that he does not know what is the normal number of Conservative Members.

Photo of Mr Trevor Skeet Mr Trevor Skeet , Willesden East

I am here because I want to support the Bill.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

Then I hope that my hon. Friend is fortunate in catching your eye, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and has an opportunity to support the Bill, as is his right.

The hon. Member for Willesden, West says that he is not anti-smoking. Nor am although I doubt whether there is any known type of tobacco used or capable of being produced which could ever be "as pure as a mountain stream". I am a non-smoker, but I have been a smoker. I was fortunate enough to grow out of the habit at an early age. The point I want to make is that it was precisely when people were preaching at me most about the dangers of smoking and the effect it would have on my health—I was told as a schoolboy and as a scout and by my parents that it would stunt my growth—that I wanted to smoke more.

From the Garden of Eden down to our present fallen world, what is forbidden or fulminated or legislated against is what is most attractive even though—and perhaps because—it is dangerous. There is a perversity in humankind which often achieves results opposite to those desired by well-meaning reformers who have put forward measures such as this.

I beg leave to doubt whether young people forming the habit of smoking cigarettes are likely to be influenced in the least by a formula placed upon a cigarette packet. I doubt whether smokers in general will be deterred by a form of words. Familiarity speedily breeds contempt. I have consulted some moderate and some heavy smokers. They have told me that they never read any of the words on cigarette packets—and there is often a considerable number of words on them. It would, therefore, be quite inappropriate to legislate in this way.

In the past, statesmen and rulers have tried much more drastic measures. Louis XIII of France forbade tobacco smoking unless ordered by a physician. The Greek Church forbade the use of tobacco in any form. Czar Michael I of Russia decreed that the first offence of smoking would be punished by flogging and the second by execution. At different times in the history of Turkey, Persia and India the death penalty has been awarded, or at least prescribed, for smoking.

In our own country, I believe that both King James I and King Charles I were anti-smokers. They could not stand the smell of tobacco. In 1614 the Star Chamber imposed a tax on tobacco. Five years later the Privy Council forbade the planting of tobacco in England. By the time of William III, the domestic industry had been finally discouraged and has never since revived. But such drastic attempts to force people not to smoke and the successful suppression of tobacco produced in this country has had no effect whatever on the habit of smoking, which has continued and increased.

I believe that the spirit of this Measure is Socialistic in the worst sense of the word. I do not know where we should go from here—whether every pub would have a notice about the dangers of alcohol, whether every betting shop a notice about the dangers of gambling. The hon. Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt) said that highway authorities put up notices about dangerous bends, but it is absolutely impossible for public authorities to place notices everywhere warning against the possible dangers in every form of human activity.

Photo of Bernard Braine Bernard Braine , Essex South East

I am much obliged to my hon. Friend for giving way. I am following his argument closely, as I have followed the arguments throughout the debate so far, and it has been most interesting in many ways. Although I agree with much of what my hon. Friend is saying, I hope that he will not seek in any way to minimise the danger of cigarette smoking. These dangers are there. Only today, we have received a Report on Health Education from a Joint Committee of the Central and Scottish Health Services Councils which makes clear that on the basis of the available statistical evidence certain diseases appear to be of increasing importance as a cause of death. These included heart disease, lung cancer and bronchitis. The Report says,

Research provides a number of pointers bearing on these diseases, but little by way of generally accepted facts. Their aetiology, as with so many other diseases, is not simple; there is probably a multiplicity of causes. The pointers which have emerged so far indicate that obesity, insufficient exercise and cigarette smoking contribute to the problem of arterio-sclerotic heart disease, that smoking and atmospheric pollution increase greatly the risk of contracting lung cancer and may cause or at least markedly aggravate chronic bronchitis. I hope that my hon. Friend will not ignore the fact that there are dangers and that there is great need for education in this matter.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

I am much obliged to my hon. Friend and Essex neighbour the Parliamentary Secretary for that intervention. I do not wish to minimise the dangers of smoking. My hon. Friend's intervention reminds me that I wanted to pay tribute to what Her Majesty's Government have done. I fully commend the campaign which the Government launched to explain the dangers of smoking to the public and particularly to young people. I commend, also, what local health and education authorities have done under the encouragement of Her Majesty's Government. I understand that 1 million posters have been distributed on the subject, that films have been produced and that other media of publicity are being used.

Although the London County Council is moribund, I wish to salute this great authority which is about to die, and in particular I commend its move to stop smoking in cinemas.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

I want to make my view clear to the hon. Gentleman. I consider that it is proper that smoking should be curtailed in theatres and cinemas. It is done in France. I consider that these things are in some ways better ordered in France. The curtailment of smoking in theatres and cinemas is, in my view, justified because of the acute discomfort which can be caused to people in the close quarters of a theatre or cinema. People who happen to be non-smokers or, perhaps, who suffer from certain maladies or disabilities can be put in acute discomfort by someone sitting next to them and smoking. Self-restraint here should be regarded as a matter of good manners and consideration for others.

I notice that London Transport has recently put on more "No-Smoking" carriages on the Underground. This is a good move. In Paris, if one travels on the Underground, one must not smoke at all whether on the station or in a train.

We should draw a distinction between what is proposed in the Bill, namely, interference by the Government in individual liberty of choice and the prevention of the abuse of liberty by smokers who do not care for the comfort of non-smokers.

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Willesden West

This is precisely what I am not trying to do. I do not want to interfere with anyone's freedom of choice. I myself have used all the hon. Gentleman's arguments. The kind of strictures and prohibitions to which he refers are not in the Bill and I do not want them to be. It is precisely because I am seeking to do what, I think, the hon. Gentleman wants that I am not suggesting forcing anyone not to smoke. All I am suggesting is that there should be a clear understanding of what people are doing when they smoke—no more than that.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

I consider that the Bill is an unwarranted and unnecessary interference in the business activities of the tobacco manufacturers, with whom I have no connection whatever, and I think that the proposal would be utterly ineffective and would not achieve the result which the hon. Member seeks to achieve.

I conclude because I want to allow other hon. Members, particularly my hon. Friends who take a different view from that which I have put before the House, the opportunity to take part in the debate. I hope that as standards of living rise and as standards of culture rise in this country, it should be possible to keep smoking within narrower bounds, for reasons of good neighbourliness and social decency as well as the health of individuals.

I agree very much with my right hon. Friend the Member for Reigate, who speaks as a former Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health and who was concerned with the first public pronouncement on the dangers of lung cancer, that it is not a matter primarily for the State, for legislation and for the House. It is a matter of example—example from those who are able to give an example, from Beatles to bishops, from pugilists to politicans, who occupy the public eye or appear on the television screen.

I think that my right hon. Friend the Member for Reigate was correct when he doubted whether the hon. Member for Willesden, West thought that this was the right approach to the problem, and I am confirmed in my opinion that he does not by the lack of interest shown in the Bill by its sponsors. I know that the hon. Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton) came into the Chamber somewhat belatedly, but he added nothing whatever to our enlightenment. The Liberal sponsor, the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock), is not present. None of the other sponsors is present. I believe that they view the Bill as a piece of publicity. Perhaps there is no harm in that, but I think that it is both little in length and too little to be worthy of a Second Reading.

3.42 p.m.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson Mr Kenneth Robinson , St Pancras North

I shall be brief. My main purpose in rising is to encourage the Parliamentary Secretary to give us the Government's view on the Measure—unless he regards his last intervention as a definitive contribution to the debate.

I am surprised at the reaction which this very modest Measure of my hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt) has provoked on the Conservative benches. It is almost necessary to remind the House that he is not advocating flogging or execution for smoking. The hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) in his historic researches might have mislead the House into thinking that that was my hon. Friend's purpose. As my hon. Friend said repeatedly, this is purely a Bill to enable people to know what they are doing or to help them to know what they are doing. The right hon. Member for Reigate (Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan) said that we do not want violent change, but to put a message on a cigarette package that there are health hazards attached to smoking is not a violent change.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson Mr Kenneth Robinson , St Pancras North

I will not give way, because there are many hon. Members who wish to talk this Bill out, and I want to give them the opportunity to do so, if that is what they wish.

The right hon. Gentleman said that we do not want to frighten people too much. Will it frighten people to have a message on a packet of cigarettes that there are health hazards? What we are trying to do is what I imagine all in the House would accept: surely we should discourage young people from contracting this habit. I thought that the House was at one in that. A certain amount has been attempted by publicity, and it has not been very successful so far. The Parliamentary Secretary quoted from the Cohen Report which was published today and I should like to quote briefly from another section of that Report which spoke of an inquiry carried out in Dunfermline during a recent local campaign aimed mainly at adults and said: Despite publicity which had been thought to be intensive most adults still believed, quite mistakenly, that the risk of being killed in a road accident was much greater than the risk of dying from lung cancer, and very few accepted that cigarette smoking was the main cause of lung cancer. That is a quotation from paragraph 83, on page 22 of the Report. On the same page, there are indications that an antismoking campaign which was run in Edinburgh in 1939 had little success either.

It is in the face of this signal lack of success on the part of the Ministry that my hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, West is making a new attempt to contribute towards the campaign. It is something which at least is worth trying and I hope very much that the Joint Parliamentary Secretary will give it a fair wind from his Department.

3.47 p.m.

Photo of Bernard Braine Bernard Braine , Essex South East

As I have been asked to say a word or two, I will do so. The whole House agrees that the subject of smoking and its effects upon health is one of enormous importance. I do not, however, wish to make a lengthy speech, especially as I should like other hon. Members to have an opportunity of expressing their views.

I am surprised that the hon. Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. Robinson) stated that the modest proposal contained in the Bill would make a substantial contribution to the task in hand when he dismissed so lightly all the efforts that the Government and the local health authorities have been making, over a period of time. The Bill deals with only one small aspect of the problem.

While I have a lot of sympathy with the hon. Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt) who advanced his case with great moderation and sincerity—we are on exactly the same side in this regard—nevertheless, I do not think that his Bill helps us very much. The hon. Member quoted the case of the teenager who, having read the warning words on a cigarette packet, went back to the shopkeeper, requested his money back and asked for jelly babies instead. Even jelly babies taken in excess, particularly by young people, have an ill effect upon dental health. Indeed, it might be fair to ask whether the best way of dealing with a problem of this kind is to put a notice upon not only packets of cigarettes, but bottles of liquor of various kinds and other products which in certain cases, if taken to excess, are bound to lead to ill health.

I am not asking the House to reject the hon. Member's Bill. He has served a useful purpose today in focussing attention once more upon the dangers caused to health by cigarette smoking. There is no doubt of the causal connection between cigarette smoking and lung cancer, bronchitis and other diseases. I refute entirely, however, what the hon. Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. K. Robinson) has just said. A great deal has been done and the Government are currently considering what further steps should be taken in the light of various Reports which we have at hand, including the most interesting Report, published today, on Health Education from a Joint Committee of the Central and Scottish Health Services Councils which was set up by the Ministers' advisory body in 1959.

I leave the matter there. This is not the occasion to argue what should be done in this sphere. I hope that we will have another opportunity for that purpose. I do not, however, think that the precise Measure that is being advocated today would make much of a contribution to a solution of the problem.

3.50 p.m.

Photo of Mr Lawrence Orr Mr Lawrence Orr , South Down

I am sorry that the hon. Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton) seems to be departing. I am delighted to have brought him back, because he suggested that some of my hon. Friends and I were here for the purpose of talking out this Bill. I tell him quite bluntly that that is not so. Most of my hon. Friends have been here all day, unlike himself who arrived in the last minute. Many of us—

Photo of Mr Lawrence Orr Mr Lawrence Orr , South Down

—have been here for the purpose of taking part in a debate on a very important and interesting Measure before. The fact that the interesting and moderately couched speech of the hon. Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt) in introducing the Bill has induced some of us to stay and to listen and to take part in this debate is quite by the way.

I had not intended to speak on this matter at all, and would not had it not been for the fact that I found the subject much more interesting than I had expected. I am sorry to be deflected, but one of my hon. Friends has just pointed out that he Bill does not apply to Northern Ireland. It is true that it does not. We see in Clause 3 that it does not extend to Northern Ireland. I had intended later in what I was going to say to ask the hon. Member for Willesden, West—perhaps he would care to deal with the matter now by way of intervention—whether he had any particular intention to exclude Northern Ireland from the Bill's operation, and whether it means, for example, that cigarette manufacturers in Northern Ireland would not necessarily have to put on this description, or whether it is a matter of constitutional propriety in order to allow the Government of Northern Ireland to legislate themselves if they so wish.

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Willesden West

I thank the hon. and gallant Member. He is quite right on that second point. It is purely a matter of constitutinal propriety. It is, as he said, a contribution to the problem rather than a solution of it, and we felt that Northern Ireland would naturally wish to reach its own solution.

Photo of Mr Lawrence Orr Mr Lawrence Orr , South Down

I am very much obliged to the hon. Member. That clears up something which had been puzzling me a little during the debate.

The hon. Member has rightly said that this is a narrow and limited Measure. What he is seeking to do is to make it illegal to sell packets of cigarettes which are not clearly marked with a warning of the health hazards. I have a profound sympathy with the general object that young people should be discouraged from starting to smoke. Unlike so many who have spoken, I am a heavy smoker. I always regret the fact that I ever started smoking. I am afraid that some of my family smoke as well. I have six grandchildren. None of them smokes, but that is purely because of the fact that they are under 5 years of age.

I was saying that, seriously, I think all of us in the House would agree that young people ought to be discouraged from starting smoking if possible, and I think parents have a duty, and anyone who has responsibility for public health has a duty, in pointing out that there are dangers in commencing cigarette smoking.

Honestly, however, with all due respect to the hon. Member for Willesden, West, this is not the way to do it. My hon. Friend the Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) gave a devastating answer to this and pointed out how ridiculous it is. We are faced with the proposition that anything being sold which would in any way be a danger if taken to excess ought to be so marked.

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Willesden West

The Bill is confined to cigarettes.

Photo of Mr Lawrence Orr Mr Lawrence Orr , South Down

Admittedly, the hon. Gentleman confines it to cigarettes.

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Willesden West

Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman will accept it from me that it is not necessary to smoke to excess to suffer from cancer. Both the Surgeon-General's Report and the Report of the Royal College of Surgeons show that even if one does not smoke to excess one can still contract cancer-through smoking.

Photo of Mr Lawrence Orr Mr Lawrence Orr , South Down

Is the hon. Gentleman seriously telling me that if someone who has never smoked before smokes one cigarette he is incurring some danger in so doing? I should have thought that a ludicrous proposition. I am perfectly certain that what we are dealing with is the taking of something in excess. Whether "excess" means 5 a day, 10 a day or 20 a day is a question, but it is, in fact, a matter of taking something to excess.

My hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary mentioned dental caries and the alarming reports by the dental profession about the harmful effects upon children's teeth of eating an excessive amount of sweets. Whether one sweet is excessive, or two sweets, or more, is a question but, undoubtedly, if one takes the dental profession seriously, as one must, one must be absolutely convinced that the overeating of sweets in this affluent society by children is doing enormous harm to their teeth. The dental profession is strikingly firm in warning us about it.

Is the hon. Gentleman really telling us that if one follows the principle underlying the Bill one must ensure that every packet of sweets contains a warning against the dangers of eating sweets to excess, that every sweet that may be eaten will carry the danger of dental decay? That is the logic of his argument.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson Mr Kenneth Robinson , St Pancras North

Dental caries is not fatal.

Photo of Mr Lawrence Orr Mr Lawrence Orr , South Down

Very well, if dental caries is not fatal, let us take coronary thrombosis. One of the greatest causes of coronary thrombosis is not cigarette smoking but obesity and over-eating. Many physicians have argued that coronary thrombosis is due to a high level of cholesterol in the blood stream and that this is caused by excessive eating of fat. Would the hon. Gentleman seriously say that every pound of butter and lard sold must bear on its packet some prohibition or some warning that the taking of too much fat will increase the level of cholesterol in the blood stream and cause danger of obesity and, consequently, danger of death from coronary thrombosis?

I honestly believe that the Bill is misconceived. Its object is perfectly right and proper, but I am certain that it would be wrong for the House of Commons to come to a conclusion about it on a day when many more hon. Members have not had an opportunity to examine it and discuss it. It is not the narrow, simple Bill which the hon. Member suggested it might be—

It being Four o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.

Debate to be resumed upon Friday next.