I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
The Government came to office with a commitment to ban tobacco advertising. Today we are able to honour that commitment. The Bill will ban both tobacco advertising and tobacco sponsorship. It will do so to reduce health inequalities, to protect public health and, most important of all, to safeguard children from the dangers of smoking.
This is a policy for which we have fought over the past five years, first in the European Union, then in the European courts and then in the British courts. At all stages this measure has been resisted by the tobacco industry; nor has it been helped by the attitude of the Opposition. In the last Parliament, we also introduced a Bill to ban tobacco advertising. It completed all its stages in this House, and was introduced in the other place before the last general election. Had it not been for the Opposition's refusal to agree to its passage, that Bill would by now have become law.
That would make a change. It is sometimes difficult to tell the difference, but in this case I am able to differentiate.
After the election the self-same Bill was reintroduced in the other place by Lord Clement-Jones, to whom I pay tribute for his skill in taking the Bill through that House. I believe that it benefited from the scrutiny it received on both sides there, but, with the addition of one or two helpful amendments that were made during its passage, the Bill before us today is the same as it was when Parliament was dissolved before the last election. I am pleased that we have been able to find Government time for it to conclude all its remaining stages, and I look forward to its successful passage.
I am sure that they and others have played their part in ensuring that we secure what we all want—an improvement in public health for all people in our country.
This Bill forms a core part of our strategy to reduce smoking and so improve health. Smoking is the single biggest cause of early death in our country. As Sir George Alberti, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said in the college's report "Nicotine Addiction in Britain",
"the humble cigarette is responsible for a dozen times more deaths in the UK in the past 40 years than British casualties from world war two—over 5 million."
Every year, smoking kills 120,000 people. It causes one in five deaths in Britain. It causes 85 per cent. of lung cancer deaths. It causes cancer of the mouth, larynx, oesophagus, bladder, kidneys, stomach and pancreas. It causes one in seven deaths from heart disease. Smoking is also one of the principal causes of health inequalities in our country. In pregnancy it contributes to low birth weight among babies, itself one of the principal causes of higher rates of infant mortality. Quite simply, it is a public health disaster, and we are determined to tackle it.
Our 1998 White Paper "Smoking Kills", published by my right hon. Friend Mr. Dobson, was the first comprehensive programme of action produced by any Government to prevent and reduce deaths from smoking. That programme has helped us to secure a reduction in smoking prevalence. Among adults, tobacco consumption had been falling consistently until 1994. It rose in 1996, but I am pleased to say that, according to figures obtained from the general household surveys undertaken in both 1998 and 2000, it has now fallen again. Perhaps even more significantly, smoking among manual groups, where tobacco consumption is highest, has also fallen, after rising between 1992 and 1996. Because the fall among manual groups has been faster than that in society as a whole, it is helping to tackle health inequalities in our country.
That progress reflects the approach we have been taking in recent years to tackle the problem of smoking. First, we have taken fiscal and other measures. We have increased tobacco duties, because there is a clear link between price and consumption levels. We have also taken measures to crack down on the real problem of illegal smuggling of cigarettes and other tobacco products into the UK. More than £200 million is being spent by the Government on tackling that illegal trade, which poses such a health hazard to our country. Again, that effort is beginning to pay dividends, with Customs successfully seizing almost 3 billion cigarettes in 2000–01 alone— 1 billion more than in the previous year.
Secondly, we have launched a major public education campaign, including television advertising and an NHS smoking helpline, which so far has taken 400,000 calls. In my view, people have a right to choose to smoke. If that is what they want to do, they have a right to do it, but they also have a right to know the implications of their decision for themselves and, more importantly, for others.
Thirdly, alongside information to encourage people to give up, we are providing more help for smokers who say that they want to give up. It is worth bearing in mind that all the surveys say that seven in 10 people who smoke say that they want to quit the habit. We are giving them more help to do so than they have ever had. Today, the NHS has the most comprehensive smoking cessation services anywhere in the world. Both Zyban and nicotine replacement therapy are available on prescription. There are specialist counselling services to help those who find it hardest to quit, especially in the poorest areas. Those resources are producing results.
In the first six months of the last financial year, over 50,000 people had quit smoking with help from those services. Smoking among pregnant women is falling. We will be looking to expand those services still further in the years to come.
The next step in that comprehensive programme of action on smoking is to end tobacco sponsorship and advertising. Some have said that the Bill is anti-smoker and anti-choice. In my view, it is a tough but I hope proportionate response to the marketing and promotion of the only legally available product that is guaranteed to kill one in two of its regular, long-term users. It will help reduce tobacco consumption.
As the Secretary of State knows, I have a long-standing interest in sport. He will also know that many of those who are struggling to ensure the continued development of sport, particularly minority sports, are concerned about the loss of revenue from sponsorship. There is obviously a trade-off between the health risks of tobacco and the benefits for sport from financial support. Will the Government indicate what kind of assessment they have done of the dangers of sport losing revenue, with consequent health risks?
The hon. Gentleman makes a fair point. As he is aware, throughout discussions about this Bill and about other action, whether it be in Europe, the UK or, I hope, internationally in due course through the World Health Organisation, it has been important to get the balance right between taking forward an important public health measure—banning tobacco advertising and sponsorship—and ensuring that the effects on certain sports are not over-discriminatory. I want to come to that point later.
The Bill will ban overt advertising on billboards, posters and in the press. It will end, with only limited exceptions, advertising in shops. Only advertising at the point of sale will be allowed. Direct marketing, too, will cease, stopping the tobacco industry bombarding people with promotional material, so undermining their attempts to give up. However, the Bill will not prevent members of the general public, journalists, writers and others from talking about tobacco products, representing them on stage or film, or commenting in the press about smoking and tobacco.
Tobacco sponsorship of sports and other events will end under the Bill. Tobacco companies will no longer be able to exploit sports and public events to glamorise their products and to get their logos emblazoned across our TV screens. It is important that right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House understand why. According to the Cancer Research Campaign, the impact of such sports sponsorship should not be underestimated. It says that boys are twice as likely to become regular smokers if they are motor racing fans and that
"this is damning evidence that tobacco sponsorship encourages young boys to take up smoking".
Tobacco companies will of course be free to make donations to sporting or indeed artistic events, provided that they do not promote tobacco. We have always said that we do not want the ban on tobacco advertising to harm sports. Our intention remains to implement the policy and the timetable on sponsorship agreed with our European partners in 1998. Subject to consultation, UK sports and events will have until July 2003 at the latest to find alternative sponsorship. Global sporting events will have until October 2006 at the latest to do the same, with two important caveats: that they do not sign new contracts with tobacco companies; and that they phase out the current sponsorship that they receive. It is my intention to publish draft regulations for consultation on sponsorship during the passage of the Bill.
If the hon. Gentleman is talking about the fault lines in the voluntary agreement on tobacco sponsorship of sporting events, those are plain for all to see. He is well aware of certain events—some have been on our television screens over recent days—at which tobacco logos are emblazoned for all to see. That clearly has an impact on tobacco consumption levels. If he is talking about the voluntary code on tobacco advertising more generally, again that measure has not been particularly effective.
The clearest fault line is in relation to tobacco advertising in areas where children live, work, play and go to school. As I understand it, the tobacco companies say that they are happy to prohibit enormous billboards advertising their products within 100 m of a school. That is great, but the kids do not live, play, shop or enjoy their leisure opportunities within 100 m of the school. The evidence is crystal clear, I believe, that that has an impact on tobacco consumption among the children and teenagers who are the future generation of smokers. The voluntary code has not been successful and that is why it is important to enact this legislation.
Is not this legislation the culmination of measures introduced during the Thatcher Administration, when she chose to ban tobacco advertising on radio and television because of the clear link between advertising and not only buying particular brands, but taking up smoking in the first place? Surely what is right for Margaret Thatcher should be right for this House.
The hon. Gentleman made one good point and then, if I may say so, one less good one. It is pretty difficult to substantiate the case for the continuity between this legislation and what went before, not least because, as he must be painfully aware, when his party was in office it resisted precisely this sort of measure. However, he was right to point to the clear link between tobacco advertising and tobacco consumption. Why on earth do right hon. and hon. Members think that tobacco companies bother to spend £100 million a year on advertising? Clearly it is not out of the goodness of their hearts.
The story from the industry has always been that mass advertising has nothing to do with increasing consumption, and still less with persuading children or young teenagers to start smoking. The industry claims that it is only about maintaining brand loyalty. Of course, until relatively recently, it is precisely those companies that were denying that there was any link whatever between cigarette consumption and cancer. Indeed, some even promoted the life-enhancing qualities of tobacco consumption. Even today, so many years after the original research was published in this country, some companies still deny that passive smoking is dangerous, while others refuse to publish the additives that they put in their cigarettes. The evidence, however, suggests that tobacco advertising is not neutral in its impact; it is all about recruiting more new smokers. As the former chairman of the board of one advertising company who has had the pleasure of working for the tobacco firms so clearly put it:
"the cigarette industry has been artfully maintaining that cigarette advertising has nothing to do with total sales. This is complete and utter nonsense. I am always amused by the suggestion that advertising—a function that has been shown to increase consumption of virtually every other product—somehow miraculously fails to work for tobacco products."
The facts are obvious enough to most people: every year the tobacco industry in this country has to replace the 120,000 customers who are killed through the consumption of its products. The target market is young smokers—including, sad to say, children. Why? Because fully 83 per cent. of smokers start before they are 20 years old. Today's teenager is tomorrow's regular smoker, and therefore tomorrow's regular consumer. The cigarette brands smoked most by children are also those that are most heavily advertised.
The polite fiction behind the tobacco industry's advertising campaigns has been exposed by recent research: for example, we have learned that in Canada, Imperial Tobacco's marketing plan in the late 1980s explicitly involved targeting what it called "men" aged 12 to 17, and "women" aged 12 to 34. Research has proved that the most commonly remembered brands, even among children as young as 11, are the most heavily advertised.
"held most appeal for teenagers, particularly 14-15 year old smokers".
Research from Manchester university found that
"awareness of the most advertised brands was a strong predictor of smoking . . . children appear to take in the messages of cigarette advertising and interpret them as generic to smoking rather than brand specific."
We should be clear about the fact that tobacco advertising and sponsorship act as a recruiting sergeant for children and young teenagers to start the tobacco habit. Although tobacco consumption by adults has been falling for many years, there was a steady increase among children aged 11 to 15 between 1988 and 1996—precisely when the so-called voluntary ban started. I am pleased to tell the House that that trend has started to reverse in recent years, and that there has been a drop from 13 to 10 per cent. of the age group since 1996. There can be little doubt, however, that tobacco advertising preys on teenagers who are susceptible to its corrosive and often covert portrayal of smoking as somehow glamorous and grown-up.
I have already given way to the hon. Gentleman once.
The industry's response to the concerns expressed has been at best inadequate and at worst cynical. As I said earlier to Mr. Hunter, the proposal not to site billboards advertising tobacco products within 100 m of schools is practically worthless. It is to safeguard children and generations yet to come that the ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship is so necessary.
Some have argued that it is unfair to ban the advertising of a legal product. As I said at the outset, I happen to believe that people have a right to choose to smoke, and it can be argued that when consumers start smoking, they are making a choice. However, because nicotine is so enormously addictive—as the Royal College of Physicians and others have testified—it is much harder for smokers to exercise an equivalent freedom of choice to give up.
Tobacco advertising and sponsorship seek to get more people to smoke by conveying the idea that smoking is glamorous, when in fact it is dangerous, and that it enhances the quality of life, when in fact it serves to shorten people's lives.
Given the impact that we all acknowledge smoking has on public health, I believe that we in Government have a responsibility to act. We have a duty to inform, so that if people want to smoke they do so on an informed basis, not on the basis of advertising hype. The Government also owe a duty to the wider community, to help smokers give up and to protect children from ever starting. That is what the Bill seeks to do.
The opponents of the Bill argue that there is insufficient evidence that the ban would reduce tobacco consumption.
Before the Secretary of State moves on to his next point, I want to ask about—[Interruption.] I wonder whether Ms Atherton could desist from speaking for a moment. My interest has been clearly declared in the Order Paper, Madam Deputy Speaker, and when I can catch your eye I shall explain it fully. However, for the moment I want to ask the Secretary of State a question of a legal nature, concerning the statement on the front page of the Bill about section 19(1) of the Human Rights Act 1998.
Secretaries of State and Ministers often rubber-stamp Bills with the section 19(1) statement, but I should like the Secretary of State to explain his understanding of the articles of the European convention on human rights, which he must have considered, and which he says are not affected by this legislation. Did he listen to, or read a transcript of a recent edition of the Radio 4 programme "Unreliable Evidence", in which an American supreme court judge said that the Bill would be struck down under United States law, and in which an English High Court—[Interruption.]
I would be a little quicker if I were not interrupted. During that programme, an English High Court judge also said, contrary to the 19(1) statement, that it is highly arguable that the Bill does not comply with the convention. I should be grateful for the Secretary of State's views on those points.
The hon. and learned Gentleman may or may not be aware that the Joint Committee on Human Rights reported on the Bill on
May I return the Secretary of State to the issue of sport sponsorship, on which I tried to intervene? On
"the FIA has no objection . . . to . . . a total ban on all tobacco sponsorship in sport with immediate effect."
It points out that, so far as grand prix races in this country are concerned, such advertisements are permitted at only four track-side billboards. The Secretary of State shakes his head, but the letter is from the FIA itself. In the light of it, why is he extending the ban to 2006, and why does the Bill not cover motor racing?
Of course I have seen the letter, not least because it was addressed to me. Believe it or not, I do read my letters.
I believe that those who run Formula 1 are saying that they will happily remove tobacco advertising or tobacco sponsorship from the British grand prix with immediate effect. If that is indeed their plan, nobody will be more delighted than me, and I applaud and encourage them. However, in terms of global sports, we are not talking about specific exemptions for Formula 1. Indeed, as I said earlier, the issue that we have always had in mind is the impact on global sports—which might include Formula 1 —that have relied excessively on tobacco sponsorship for many years. In those cases, it seems only reasonable and fair that we should give them an opportunity to wean themselves off the habit of tobacco sponsorship.
As I said, we will consult on regulations. In broad terms, our intention is to follow the formula that we intended to follow before, had the Bill been able to proceed further: a deadline of July 2003 for sports, and of October 2006 for global sports. That is an end-date, however. If we and the sports in question can move more quickly than that, we will do so. As far as the FIA letter is concerned, if that organisation wishes to make the British—or any other—grand prix free from tobacco sponsorship, that is a matter for it. I urge it to do so if it can, and I hope that I do so with the support of Richard Ottaway.
As for evidence of tobacco advertising leading to increases in consumption, as long ago as 1989, the US surgeon-general concluded that
"the collective empirical, experiential and logical evidence makes it more likely than not that advertising and promotional activities do stimulate cigarette consumption."
Two years later, research found that a 10 per cent. increase in advertising expenditure would lead to a 0.6 per cent. increase in consumption. More recently, in a report entitled "Curbing the Epidemic", the World Bank noted that
"a recent study of 22 high income countries based on data from 1970 to 1992 concluded that comprehensive bans on cigarette advertising and promotion can reduce smoking."
It predicted that a European Union-wide ban on tobacco advertising would reduce tobacco consumption by about 7 per cent across the continent. Further research by American researchers Saffer and Chaloupka, who studied data from 22 countries, concluded starkly that
"tobacco advertising increases tobacco consumption."
The most compelling evidence however comes not from abroad, but from research undertaken in this country. It comes from the research commissioned and published by the Department of Health under—to their credit—the then Conservative Government in 1992–93. In 1992, the chief economic adviser to the Department of Health, Professor Clive Smee, examined evidence from Norway, Finland, Canada and New Zealand—countries in which tobacco advertising had been banned—about the impact on consumption levels. The fact that consumption fell by between 4 per cent. and 9 per cent. in those countries led Smee to conclude:
"in each case the banning of advertising was followed by a fall in smoking on a scale which cannot reasonably be attributed to other factors."
The problem was that having commissioned and published the evidence, the then Government—now the Opposition—did precisely nothing about it. They failed to ban advertising and sponsorship in this country. What is more, they blocked a ban in other European countries, and blocked it consistently between 1989 and 1997. It was not until the election of a new Labour Government that the block was removed.
Even today, I am sad to say, the Opposition in their amendment apparently refuse to back this Bill. Dr. Fox, who speaks for the Opposition on these matters, told The Times before the general election—in December 2000, I think—that
"if it comes to a choice between public health and the tobacco industry I think public health would be a priority."
I hoped that in the light of those remarks the Opposition would make the right choice today and put the wider health of the nation before the narrow interests of the tobacco industry. Indeed, my hopes were raised still further when I read the comments of the Conservative spokesman on health in the Scottish Parliament, Mary Scanlon, before the general election. She told the Scottish Parliament's Health and Social Care Committee on
"My party also supports the Bill, the fact that it is UK-wide legislation and the ban . . . should the Tories win the next general election, we will pursue the legislation."—[Scottish Parliament Official Report, Health and Community Care Committee,
When the hon. Gentleman replies, he might care to tell the House what happened between 2000–01 and 2002, because somehow there has been a change of heart. I do not know whether he was overturned and outvoted in the shadow Cabinet or whether, once again, the interests of the tobacco industry have come before the interests of public health in our country.
The Opposition ask for evidence in favour of a ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship. The weight of evidence is overwhelming and it points in one direction. Advertising and promotion of tobacco products imposes enormous costs on our health service and does enormous damage to the health of our nation. Its effects are felt most acutely in the poorest parts of our country. We estimate that, in this country alone, a reduction in smoking following an advertising ban such as that proposed in the Bill could save the NHS up to £40 million a year on treating smoking-related disease. More importantly, we estimate that 3,000 lives a year will be saved in the UK in the longer term.
A ban on tobacco advertising is backed not only by a majority of the public but by a phalanx of medical charities and professional organisations, including the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Physicians, the Cancer Research Campaign, Diabetes UK, the National Consumer Council and the Consumers Association.
Overwhelmingly, however, it is the evidence that commands support for the Bill. That evidence comes from the scale of the tobacco industry's advertising, not only in this country but throughout the world. It comes from countries where bans have already served to reduce smoking significantly. It comes also from medicine and science, which have shown the damage done by smoking and nicotine addiction.
The Opposition's amendment asks for evidence. That evidence is all around them, but they choose not to see it. It screams out to them from billboards across the country. Advertising works—smoking kills. Today we can begin to break that link. The Bill will protect children, reduce smoking and so save lives. For those reasons, I believe that it deserves the support of Members on both sides of the House.
I beg to move, To leave out from "House" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:
"whilst supporting the aim of reducing the number of deaths from smoking, declines to give a Second Reading to the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill [Lords] because there is insufficient evidence that its provisions will lead to a quantifiable reduction in tobacco consumption;
because it does not allow for a mechanism for testing and reflection upon the assumptions upon which the Bill is based;
and because it does nothing to combat the increase in the prevalence of smoking amongst teenagers and other vulnerable groups due to the growth in the importation and sale of illegal tobacco products."
Here we are again, debating this Bill in exactly the same terms as before, in what seems like a political version of "Groundhog Day": we have seen and heard it all before.
The debate is not about whether we think smoking is a bad thing. Certainly, those of us with first-hand experience of dealing with the consequences of smoking can testify all too readily to its evils. As one of the 15 per cent. of people who suffer from asthma, I can happily testify to the perils and torments of passive smoking that so many of us have to endure. I confirm that I have no affection for the tobacco industry and would not be upset were it to cease its trade immediately.
It is worth starting with the points on which we are in agreement, which fall into five categories. First, there are serious risks to health associated with smoking. That is well known and understood by smokers and the public generally, and increasing awareness of the health risks is likely to persuade people not to smoke.
Secondly, it is an objective of public health policy to reduce total tobacco consumption and the prevalence of smoking among the population.
Thirdly, children should not smoke and should not be allowed access to tobacco products.
Fourthly, adults should be free to make an informed choice about whether or not to smoke.
Fifthly, although it is not against the law to manufacture, sell, buy and smoke tobacco products, it is appropriate that the advertising and promotion of tobacco products should be regulated.
Today's debate is about means; there is not a difference between us about ends. The debate needs to occur at two different levels. Not only does the House need to consider the philosophical arguments about the balance between individual liberty and state intervention; it must examine the practical aspects of this measure.
The questions concerning the restrictions of individual freedom are profound. Under what conditions, and with what safeguards, should a tolerant society ban things because the results of informed personal choice are disapproved of by the majority? What alternative means might be available to achieve the same ends? In other words, what is the value in our society of personal liberty and what is the appropriate level of intervention by the state, since the state has been increasing its interference in our lives for some time?
I do not expect the Secretary of State to have read the Macmillan report into how Parliament operates, but it makes interesting reading. It refers to
"the change of outlook of the government of this country in recent times, its growing preoccupation, irrespective of party, with the management of the life of the people".
It also says
"Parliament finds itself increasingly engaged in legislation which has for its conscious aim the regulation of the day-to-day affairs of the community and now intervenes in matters formerly thought to be entirely outside its scope."
It is interesting that that report was commissioned in 1931. It is a long-standing trend in British politics that Governments have been increasingly willing to intervene in the affairs of individuals.
As the Prime Minister—I mean, the Secretary of State—
I am sure that there will be a race before long, and Mr. Milburn could throw his hat in the ring.
As the Secretary of State pointed out, it is not against the law to manufacture or import tobacco products provided that regulatory requirements governing those products are met. It is not illegal to sell tobacco products except to children under 16, and they are sold through more than 200,000 retail outlets and sales points. It is not illegal to buy and smoke tobacco products, and 15 million adults sadly do. The Government earn handsomely through the system.
Irrespective of which party is in government—and irrespective of what we ourselves may think about those freedoms—we have to ask ourselves whether, since the Government not only profit from those freedoms but accept them as legitimate, adults who choose to exercise them should not be able to make informed choices about the range of those legally available products. Where does regulation end and a ban start? How do we differentiate between the two? If the Government do not believe that such freedoms should exist, it would be more honest to restrict the availability and distribution of tobacco rather than merely dealing with advertising.
I accept my hon. Friend's argument on freedom of choice—indeed, I note the increase in the nanny state since the Labour party came into power—but does he share my concern that advertising encourages people to smoke who would not otherwise do so? Does he also acknowledge the fact that it was perhaps the most libertarian of Governments—the Administration in the 1980s—who made the then Independent Broadcasting Authority impose a ban on tobacco advertising for the health of the nation?
My hon. Friend makes two important points, and I will deal in moment with the record of the Conservative Government. He raises an essential philosophical question: when should Governments intervene and restrict the freedom of individuals? There are undoubtedly cases in which state intervention is acceptable—for example, to protect the weak and vulnerable from being preyed on. That is the basis of our legal system and the protections that we afford our people. However, there is also a utilitarian argument which says that because there is a large financial cost to society and, therefore, to each individual within it of the choices made by a few, it is acceptable to limit freedoms in certain circumstances. We are asking whether the example of tobacco consumption, sale and advertising comes within that argument.
Some people say that it is not acceptable for the state to interfere with individual choices, which is the libertarian argument. I simply say to them that, on re-reading Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom" recently, I was interested to come across the following paragraph:
"There is nothing in the basic principles of liberalism to make it a stationary creed; there are no hard-and-fast rules fixed once and for all. The fundamental principle that in the ordering of our affairs we should make as much use as possible of the spontaneous forces of society, and resort as little as possible to coercion, is capable of an infinite variety of applications . . . Probably nothing has done so much harm to the liberal cause as the wooden insistence of some liberals on certain rough rules of thumb, above all the principle of laissez-faire."
Will the hon. Gentleman explain exactly which individual liberty is being removed? I am not suggesting that we stop people smoking even though they impinge on my liberty by making me a passive smoker. Are we removing any liberty other than that of a tobacco manufacturer to entice individuals and entrap them into smoking?
Were we not imposing restrictions on freedoms, the Bill would not be before us and it would not involve banning, which implies removing something that is currently legal. We have to consider whether there are alternative means. If the Government believe that there are not, we must consider whether safeguards should be built into the Bill to which we can return in light of evidence at a later date.
As someone who comes from a party that purports to know something about liberalism, I accept the hon. Gentleman's argument that such legislation restricts liberty. The question is whether that is justified on the basis of harm. We have to strike a balance between the restriction of liberty and the harm that can be prevented. In that context, does the hon. Gentleman agree that the thrust of his argument would carry greater conviction if his party were a little more liberal on things which clearly do no harm, such as the private consenting behaviour of adults in the bedroom, in relation to which his party has a prejudiced view that goes against liberty without requiring any proof of harm being done? That is an important point.
One might think that, after all these years, we would have learnt that taking interventions from certain Members of the House does nothing to further the debate. Certainly we have no lessons to take from parties such as the Liberal Democrats, who want to legalise many drugs that would be a lot more carcinogenic and more harmful to people—
Such as cannabis, which is a good deal more carcinogenic than tobacco. Of course, the Liberal Democrats are now famous for selective liberalism, having abandoned the genuine liberal tradition, which I would suggest these days rests more on the Conservative Benches.
No, I certainly have no intention of giving way to the hon. Gentleman again, in this debate or in any subsequent debate. If I were a rat and such a slow learner, I would probably have been exterminated in some experiment by now.
One of the flaws in the Secretary of State's argument—and I was sorry to hear him make this assertion—was that following the publication of the Smee report in 1992 the then Conservative Government took no action whatsoever. That is unworthy of the right hon. Gentleman because that Government did take measures. I accept that he thinks that those measures were insufficient, and I accept the legitimacy of that position, but to say that no measures were taken is quite wrong.
In 1980, advertising expenditure on cigarette brand posters was limited to 30 per cent. of the amount spent. As the right hon. Gentleman said, there were restrictions on poster advertising in schools and other educational establishments, and such advertisements were not allowed in publications wholly or largely aimed at young people. There was a ban on tobacco advertising in cinemas and on video cassettes and computer games.
For the Secretary of State to say that no action was taken is demeaning in a debate of this nature. In those years, this country was one of the most successful in the world in reducing smoking prevalence, and we should take pride in that. Between 1971 and 1996, tobacco consumption fell by more than 37 per cent. and prevalence fell by 40 per cent. Policies to reduce advertising were complemented by better public health education and taxation policies that made smoking progressively more expensive and reduced consumption.
I want to return to the essence of the logic behind the hon. Gentleman's reasoned amendment and the point about liberalism. I recall, many years ago, reading a 19th-century philosopher who said, "Your freedom to swing your stick ends where my nose begins." Will the hon. Gentleman expand on the point about how the individual freedom that he describes balances out against the freedom of others to be free from tobacco? He talks about the weak and the vulnerable, but what about protecting children and young people from indulging in smoking?
I was frank about the need for a balance, and we accept the restriction of individual freedoms in other areas. The question, which I am going to deal with, is whether this particular ban falls within those parameters. We are a little cavalier in wanting to ban things without thinking sufficiently about all the detailed arguments that we should raise in the House.
To return to the point that I was making, the Conservative Government's judicious mix of advertising restrictions, taxation policies and public health education meant that we had a very good record. The question that is very difficult to answer is which part of the mixture was most successful in reducing smoking prevalence. It is difficult to say what is the relative importance of each of the three strands of policy.
Despite the continuation of advertising restrictions and health education under this Government, there has been a much smaller reduction in the number of adult smokers and a rise in the number of children who smoke. It is worth pointing out to the House that the figures are quite horrifying. The latest available figures show that between 1999 and 2000, the number of boys who smoked either occasionally or regularly went up from 12 per cent. to 16 per cent, while the number of girls who smoked occasionally or regularly went up from 16 per cent. to 22 per cent. The critical question is what lies behind that upward trend: advertising did not increase in that period because restrictions were still in place.
I entirely accept that the House needs to be careful about evidence, but how can the hon. Gentleman possibly explain the fact that in countries where a ban was instituted there were immediate drops in the number of people smoking cigarettes, ranging from 35 per cent. to 15 per cent., and where there was no other influence on the decline?
It is genuinely difficult to look at the cultures within which the bans were imposed. In the United Kingdom, a big reduction was achieved by a mix of policies; along with the Netherlands, we were particularly successful in getting our smoking rates down through a variety of different policies. I am not arguing that restricting advertising would not have played a part; the Conservative Government thought that the code on advertising was part of the mix, but there is a difference between a voluntary code and a legal ban. The step proposed in the Bill needs to be balanced against important philosophical arguments.
I want to underscore my hon. Friend's point that it is difficult to make estimates of the sort that Laura Moffatt wants. In the other place, Lord Hunt said that the anticipated decline in the prevalence of smoking as a result of the Bill was somewhere in a range between 0 per cent. and 5 per cent; he could not be more specific. He plumped for 2.5 per cent, because that was halfway between 0 per cent. and 5 per cent, but it could have been 0 per cent., 0.3 per cent., 5 per cent. or some other figure.
I shall come to that argument in a moment, but in all honesty, I must tell my hon. and learned Friend that for many of us this is genuinely a difficult debate. On the one hand, we believe that only when it has no alternative should the state act to restrict individual freedom. On the other hand, I personally detest the effects of smoking.
No, I said that I would not for the moment.
As I was saying, if advertising restrictions have not changed, but smoking has increased, what is the cause? If we are to answer that question, we need to look at the real-terms cost of tobacco, which has been affected by the huge increase in smuggling. The National Audit Office report on tobacco smuggling made for grim reading, according to the Financial Times:
"Customs & Excise is losing up to £7.3 billion a year to fraud on indirect taxes such as value added tax and tobacco duty . . . equivalent to nearly £300 for each household".
The report gave the first formal estimate of how much Customs and Excise is losing; the true figure is likely to be higher. Surprisingly, about half the losses are accounted for by tobacco smuggling, and it is estimated that the number of cigarettes smuggled last year rose from 14 billion to 17 billion, with more than one in five cigarettes consumed in the UK being smuggled.
According to the Government's statistics, the proportion of smuggled cigarettes has gone up in each of the past five years, rising from 3 per cent. to 6 per cent, to 12 per cent., to 18 per cent., and finally 21 per cent., which tells an alarming story about the Government's failure to tackle the real problem—the fall in the true price of tobacco. Banning or further restricting advertising may be part of the solution, but only a small part. The Secretary of State said today that banning advertising would be at the "core" of the Government's programme on tobacco. However, if he cannot tackle smuggling and if the true price of tobacco in this country continues to fall, there will be a drive towards greater prevalence of smoking and increased consumption, so banning advertising should not be the core of the Government's policy.
Is the hon. Gentleman seriously saying that there is a higher prevalence of smoking among teenage girls because they are managing to buy cigarettes cheaply on the black market? That is nonsense.
In pubs throughout the country one can buy smuggled tobacco at lower and lower prices. If the price decreases, demand will increase. Why does the hon. Lady think consecutive Governments have continued to try to raise the price of tobacco, if not to make it less attractive and to reduce the market? She is surely not saying that she does not believe that there is a link between the price of tobacco and the level of consumption—or is she?
The hon. Gentleman was talking about the growing prevalence of smoking among young teenage girls. I agree that that is where we find the higher incidence of tobacco smoking. Young teenage girls do not frequent pubs and they are not able to buy tobacco at pubs. There are other reasons for young girls smoking, and a major reason is that the advertising of tobacco makes it attractive to smoke. As I have said, there are other reasons, and I will go into them if I have the opportunity to do so.
I accept the hon. Lady's sincerity, but her intervention is hopelessly, if charmingly, naive. Young teenage girls do frequent pubs. Youngsters do not get tobacco for free. They have to buy it somewhere. The lower the price, the more accessible it becomes. The cheaper the price, the more young people will be able to afford it, and the higher the prevalence rates will become. To pretend that there is no link between price and consumption is not helpful to the debate. In his Budget statement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer seemed to believe that there is a link, when he raised the duty on tobacco.
No. I shall make some progress if I may.
I return to the point made by my hon. and learned Friend Mr. Garnier. What hard evidence do we have that a ban, as opposed to a restriction, will make a difference? The Secretary of State was right when he said that it was a Conservative Government in 1992 who commissioned and published the Smee report. The report stated:
"The Department expects the likely eventual net effect on consumption to be in the range between 0% and a 5% decrease."
The report did not provide an adequate or reliable basis for estimating the likely effect of a total advertising ban in the UK. The author of the report made a statement in The Times in 1993, saying that he had
"looked at the conflicting evidence of bans in other countries and made no estimate for the UK. In seeking to justify its Bill, the Government has done no more than make an 'assumption' that a tobacco advertising ban will reduce consumption by 2.5%"— as my hon. and learned Friend said, that involved picking a number between the two—
"without producing any evidence in support of that claim."
The hon. Gentleman has been rather selective in quoting the Smee report. When the analysis took place before consideration by the Secretary of State, Smee concluded that
"in each case the banning of advertising was followed by a fall in smoking on a scale which cannot be reasonably attributed to other factors."
Smee also concluded that a total ban, in conjunction with an anti-smoking policy from Government, worked.
Smee concluded that in the areas that he had considered such an approach had worked in other countries. He said that there was conflicting evidence. He added that no clear assessment could be made of what would happen in the UK. At that time, we were already working against a background of having better reductions in our smoking prevalence and consumption than other countries. In the light of the evidence in the UK and elsewhere, it is difficult to come to clear conclusions.
There are fundamental questions to be faced. If we have no clear evidence that a ban will definitely produce a set benefit and yet we are going ahead in the face of arguments concerning the reduction of individual liberty and freedom of expression, can we not provide some safeguards that will make the balance of the argument more palatable?
In the previous Parliament, the Conservative party tried to introduce a clause into the Bill stating that if the Bill came into effect and did not produce any benefit at all in terms of reduced prevalence or consumption—in other words, if prevalence and consumption against trend rose—the Government would have to introduce new legislation in the House if they wanted to extend the ban. That is a perfectly rational and reasonable position and should be a no-risk policy for a Government who believe that the evidence is entirely on their side.
Why will the Government not apply such a clear scientific test to their proposals? On the face of it, that seems utterly unreasonable. It is partly because, as with everything else, the issue is not one of substance but one of presentation—intellectually two-dimensional and enmeshed in its own tissue of lies and sleaze.
The idea that the Government wanted to bring the Bill back is nonsense. They were forced to bring it back because the private Member's Bill in the other place was successful. If the Government had wanted to bring the Bill back, they would have announced a space for it in the Queen's Speech. They did not want to do so, and to pretend otherwise is humbug. One of the reasons why they did not want to bring the Bill back is that that risked opening up the whole Formula 1 affair at a time when the Government have never looked more as though they were up for sale to the highest bidder.
I wrote to the Secretary of State in the light of the recent revelations about the Formula 1 affair. We all know now that events were very different from the account given by that very straightforward kind of guy the Prime Minister. It might be helpful if I tell the House what I wrote to the Secretary of State. I now know that he reads his letters; it would be nice if he replied to them as well. I wrote:
"When the Government originally decided to exempt Formula 1 from the proposed Tobacco Advertising ban, it was suggested that the Prime Minister struck the deal at a meeting with motor racing chiefs at 10 Downing Street. This meeting supposedly took place on October 16th 1997, and the decision to exempt Formula 1 became Government policy on November 4th that year."
My letter continued:
"You will be aware, however, that information published today in The Times suggests that this version of events is incorrect. It now appears that the Government's decision to exempt Formula 1 was made before Bernie Ecclestone's donation to the Labour Party in January 1997. Mr. David Ward told The Times: 'In contrast to the widely held view that Ecclestone's donation was made to change policy on tobacco, in fact it was rewarding a policy decision he approved of after it had been taken by Labour.'
This situation requires urgent clarification. When was the decision first taken to exempt Formula 1 from the Tobacco Advertising ban?"
In the letter that he sent to the Secretary of State, Sir Max Mosley gave a very different version of events from the Government. He stated:
"We are not seeking and have never sought any exclusive exemption for Formula One from UK or EU efforts to ban tobacco sponsorship and advertising.
Unfortunately the obvious absurdity of an exclusive exemption for Formula One did not occur to your department when it was proposed unilaterally and without consultation with the FIA in November 1997."
Did the Government, without any negotiations, offer an exemption for Formula 1 that was never even sought? If so, why, who did it, who knew about it, and when did it happen? That fundamentally undermines everything that the Secretary of State has been saying about the points of principle. As a result of the Government's appalling handling of the whole affair, Mr. Ecclestone has been unfairly maligned following his donation to the Labour party.
There is another scandal that has not been mentioned today and which should be mentioned—the scandal of what we as British taxpayers contribute to the EU's policy on tobacco growing. It is scandalous that the European Union spends £600 million supporting tobacco growing—£600 million of taxpayers' money, including ours. Of the tobacco grown, under the EU's policy, a third is burned, a third goes into the European tobacco market, and appallingly and shamefully, the remainder is exported to third-world countries. That is EU cash-for-cancer money, and we are paying it.
How can any EU country successfully fight against tobacco consumption with the hypocrisy of those massive subsidies continuing? It would be nice to know from the Minister when he winds up tonight what the Government intend to do about that scandal. We continue to subsidise the promotion of cheap tobacco to people in developing countries. We fail to tackle smuggling effectively, so the real price of tobacco falls and consumption rises. The Government give exemptions from their own policy where none is sought, undermining their own credibility.
There is no doubt that the Government will get their Bill—or, rather, someone else's Bill—because they have the numbers and the time to do so, and there is also no doubt that we will get many more initiatives. However, I say to the Government that just as a No. 10 briefing about fining feckless parents is supposed to make us think that they are tackling crime, the Bill is a diversion from the real job of tackling smuggling and making tobacco more expensive in real terms. Tobacco smuggling is, to borrow a phrase, swamping this country. This Government's approach simply will not do.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on having had the rather strange privilege of introducing the same excellent Bill twice in two successive Parliaments. Sadly, because of the vagaries of parliamentary procedure and the Conservatives' opposition, the original Bill did not get through the House of Lords in the previous Parliament, but it is here now and we must ensure that it gets through this time. I should also like to thank him for his kind mention of the tobacco White Paper, "Smoking Kills", which was published when I was Secretary of State for Health. I congratulate him on a thoroughgoing implementation of its contents, making possible a concerted approach to reducing smoking in this country.
The Bill is intended to end tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship—and not before time. It is 40 years since the Royal College of Physicians published its report on smoking and health, which demonstrated beyond any doubt that smoking kills, so no one can suggest that the Bill is a rush to judgment. Whenever we discuss smoking and those who wish to continue its promotion, we should continue to keep in mind one simple fact: smoking kills. We should not allow ourselves to be distracted by the specious arguments, delaying tactics and weasel words of the tobacco industry or any of its friends.
If we think of ourselves as part of the animal world, as we must, we can reasonably regard the tobacco industry as a predatory animal, as it has to kill others in order to survive. It must continue to make and sell tobacco products to survive, knowing that half the people who follow the maker's instructions will die. That is the sort of industry that we are talking about. It promotes smoking in the sure and certain knowledge that if it does not continue to promote smoking and the making and selling of its products, it will not be the consumers who die, but the industry. So we have a stark choice: we can support either the tobacco merchants of death, as has happened on previous occasions, or the people whom they would otherwise kill.
In the knowledge that smoking kills, our campaign must, first, try to stop the tobacco industry recruiting new smokers, and, secondly, get existing smokers to desert the ranks of the people whom the tobacco industry does to death. These are all strong words, but they are all true.
The tobacco industry seeks the reverse of what we seek. Day in, day out, its executives and employees strive to recruit more people to smoke and to keep to a minimum the number of deserters from the ranks of the smokers. People in the tobacco industry understand their position, as they would, given that they are in an industry that in this country kills 120,000 of its customers every year, and obviously needs to recruit another 120,000 customers to make up for those it has killed.They knowingly sell a product that kills, so it follows that they have to take extreme measures, and they knowingly lie. For decades, the principal characteristic of the outward manifestation of the tobacco industry has been big lies to promote big tobacco.
No, not for the moment.
People in the tobacco industry promoted three big lies. First, they said that tobacco did not kill; then they said that tobacco was not addictive; then they said, as they are still saying, that they did not want to recruit new smokers. All those lies have been exposed as such.
The claim that tobacco smoking does not pose a threat to health has been exposed as a lie. Originally—I give them the benefit of the doubt—people in the tobacco industry and its promoters may actually have believed that their product was not harmful. Subsequently, however, they knew from their own research, as well as that of others, that it was harmful, yet they practised and peddled the lie. They knew that they were lying; they knew that they were trying to deceive the public and potential smokers. Finally, they had to admit that smoking is harmful to health. We have now reached the preposterous situation whereby the boss of British American Tobacco says that he tells his children,
"I would advise you not to smoke . . . It is not good for you. You are better off not smoking", then runs an advertising campaign to try to persuade everybody else's children to smoke. That is rank hypocrisy and a disgrace.
For years, people in the tobacco industry denied that tobacco was addictive. Again, they may have believed that at the beginning, but they subsequently knew from their own research—not someone else's—that tobacco was addictive. So what did they do? They decided to start growing tobacco that had more of the addictive characteristics, and, because that might prove to be difficult in the United States, they did it in Brazil and Zimbabwe in the hope that nobody would notice. They lied, then tried to make their product more addictive. Now, they have finally had to admit to their second big lie and accept that tobacco—or rather nicotine—is addictive.
The third great lie, which is still being perpetuated—sadly, some Conservative Members, either knowingly or otherwise, are going along with it—is that the industry is not trying to recruit new smokers. There is no first stage in that respect—people in the industry have always known that they were lying when they said that, because they were doing the recruiting. Why do they spend £130 million a year in this country on trying to promote tobacco sales if they are not trying to recruit new smokers? They are not giving £130 million-worth of outdoor relief to advertising executives; they are trying to recruit new people and to keep existing smokers on their list. They have deployed all sorts of different techniques over the years, but still deny that they have been doing so.
That is probably true, but trying to prohibit it would not work and might interfere with the individual liberty about which Dr. Fox was so concerned. As my hon. Friend Judy Mallaber said, we are trying not to restrict any individual but to prevent fat-cat bosses in the industry from persuading people to start or to continue smoking. That is all that we are talking about.
We do not want to stop Tom, Dick or Harry, but Ken and his mates. [Hon. Members: "Where is he?"] I am sorry that Mr. Clarke is not here. I have a high opinion of him; I like him and believe that he is the sort of person whom most of us would get on with. I cannot understand why he gets involved in the tobacco industry—it is beneath him.
The lie about not recruiting smokers includes a subsidiary lie that the industry is not targeting young people. If it is not, it is barmy. Almost everyone who smokes starts young; hardly anyone does so when old. Indeed, hardly anyone over 20 starts smoking. As night follows day, it follows that tobacco companies target their efforts on the young. There is clear evidence of that from information that had to be disclosed through court cases in the United States. It shows that the industry wants early recruits and knows that the product is addictive. It could be summed up in the slogan, "Get 'em young and you've got 'em for life." That is a disgraceful approach, but it characterises all the industry's actions.
The industry claims that it no longer targets children, but now emphasises that smoking is an adult activity. That is simply a change of tactics intended to make smoking more attractive to young people and portray it as something that the rebellious do—something that grown-ups do. It is all part of the promotion.
We must try not only to prevent recruitment but to get existing smokers off their habit. The Government are implementing the approaches that were set out in the White Paper to which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State kindly referred. Banning tobacco advertising is only part of a general drive. The advertising ban is good, but we need to be careful about the way in which we formulate it.
Clear evidence shows that for more than 20 years the tobacco industry has been planning methods of coping with an advertising ban. British American Tobacco's objectives state:
"Opportunities should be explored by all companies to find non-tobacco products and other services which can be used to communicate the brand or house name, together with their essential visual identifiers . . . The principle is to ensure that tobacco lines can be effectively publicised when all direct lines of communication are denied."
That was said in 1979. We must be prepared, because the tobacco industry has been preparing for 20 years to cope with the problems that it will face as a result of a ban on advertising. It is still at it.
We must be careful that the industry does not use the point of sale—for example, a shop—as a huge advertisement by turning it into a glowing, sparkling fag packet. We must make sure that, when brand-stretching, it does not open cafés that resemble packets of cigarettes, with their logos and colour schemes, as happened in Malaysia. We must watch that.
It has recently been revealed that the tobacco industry has paid Hollywood millions of pounds to persuade film companies to get people to smoke on TV so that the camera can focus on the cigarette logo as often as possible. We know about another shameless activity, which involves the fashion industry. I do not know whether tobacco industry money goes into it—no one would expect me to understand the ins and outs of the fashion industry—but young women, who are admired by girls and other young women, smoke cigarettes on the catwalk but not in their private life. There is something wrong there, and we need to watch all such developments. We must get ahead of the game.
I understand from the Clerks that we cannot strengthen this Bill, and that my proposal is outside its scope. I believe, however, that, in view of the deathly nature of the product of the tobacco industry, we should require it to disclose all its market research and scientific research, in the first instance to the Department of Health and then to the public.
The opponents of the advertising ban have advanced three arguments. The first is that if the industry does not have to spend money on promotion, it will be able to reduce its prices. Fine—if we want to maintain a constant price, all that we need to do is increase the tax. That would be good for people's health, good for every other taxpayer, and good for the public services that received the money.
That takes us on to the second argument—that the ban might lead to more smuggling. Smuggling is portrayed as though it is not only the Exchequer, British taxpayers, the public and those who depend on publicly financed services who are being swindled. The impression being created by the tobacco industry is that, somehow or other, it is being swindled. Far from it: it is being paid for every cigarette that is smuggled. Perhaps, therefore, we should consider a tax at the production end of the tobacco industry, and catch it out that way.
Perhaps there is an alternative. We need to get the scale of the worldwide tobacco problem clear in our minds. More people will die this year from tobacco use than from all the military action in the world. We force companies to obtain export licences and produce end-user certificates for armament exports. We should examine the possibility of requiring the deathly products of the tobacco industry to be subject to end-user certificates. We must take this seriously. Tobacco kills more people than all the battles and fighting going on in the world.
That brings me to the third argument. The hon. Member for Woodspring has gone on about freedom of choice. An addict does not have freedom of choice. An addict's choice is biased in favour of the addiction. If that were not the case, the 70 per cent. of smokers who want to give up would have done so. It is difficult to give up smoking, and the tobacco industry has known that all along. We must remember that, when most people took up smoking, they were not in a position to make a mature judgment, because they were not mature. They were in their "salad days", and "green in judgment". They were probably 10 or 11, or perhaps 13 or 14 years old when they made their erroneous judgment and got themselves addicted. Now, apparently, in the name of freedom of choice, we are told that more and more generations have to join them. That is not good enough, and it must be changed.
The Bill will provide some of the changes, and it is therefore very welcome. About 3,000 lives will be saved in the United Kingdom as a result of the ban. I have been in the House since 1979, and I have seldom taken part in a debate in which, if we voted the right way, 3,000 lives would be saved. Indeed, that might be an underestimate, because the European Union and the World Health Organisation have said that a total ban on advertising would reduce smoking by more than the Department of Health's official estimate of 2.5 per cent.
We must work with the European Union. I quite agree with the hon. Member for Woodspring about the scandal of the huge subsidy for growers of inferior tobacco. There is nothing novel about that; it happened when Mrs. Thatcher was Prime Minister and when John Major was Prime Minister. It is still going on now. It ought to be stopped—I agree with the hon. Gentleman entirely—but we need an EU-wide approach and we must support the WHO's approach to try to get an advertising ban worldwide.
Nothing better demonstrates what I can only describe as the moral degeneracy of the people who run the tobacco industry than the fact that, as it has found it harder to sell its deadly product to people in the developed world, it has increasingly pitched its sales promotion at the third world. What sort of people are they? They look at the third world—devastated with malaria, devastated with tuberculosis and more and more devastated with HIV/AIDS. Everybody else says, "What can we do to help?", but the tobacco industry says, "We'll give you lung cancer as well."
Those are the sort of people we are talking about. It epitomises the mindset of the tobacco industry that nothing is more important to it than selling cigarettes, so I urge everyone to vote for the Bill and for a long series of ever tougher measures against smoking.
First, I alert Dr. Fox to the fact that if he sneaks out, which he is about to do, he will miss the opportunity to reply to the points that I would like to put to him in debate. After all, we are in a debating Chamber. I understand that he may have more pressing engagements than doing his job here, and I see from his departure that he has.
I suspect that the Secretary of State will also leave, but I hope that he does not, because I want to echo his tribute to Lord Clement-Jones without whose assiduity—and, indeed, that of his Liberal Democrat colleagues in the House of Lords—we would not have the Bill, which is, I grant, the same as that which the Government introduced. I am glad that the Secretary of State at least paid tribute to him. The right hon. Gentleman was a little churlish—I would like to say that that is unlike him, but I cannot—in remarking that merely a few people played their part. Otherwise, I agree with everything he said, except his dangerous complacency and self-congratulation on the Government's achievements in their tobacco strategy, which I want to go into further.
My final tribute goes to my constituent, Sir Richard Doll, who was the first to publish the clear evidence that tobacco kills and smoking kills. His landmark study set the background not only for this policy, but for many others that Governments have introduced. I hope that future Governments do the same. The fact that he is still going strong at his ripe old age, nearing 100, testifies to what people can achieve if they do not smoke.
It is always a pleasure to be able to support the Government on a manifesto commitment, but it is more than a little unfortunate that we are supporting one from 1997. I concur with almost everything that Mr. Dobson said about the Bill saving 3,000 lives, but it has come too late to save some that could have been saved had it been early legislation. Nevertheless, it is welcome.
Smoking is a public health disaster. The damage that it causes has been described by previous speakers and I shall not repeat what they said, but it is important to recognise that if the Government's only aim is to reduce the prevalence of smoking, they must recognise that their job is to help with that change, not just comment on it if it happens incidentally.
The danger is that the Government may think that they brought about incidental changes in the prevalence of smoking. For example, a large number of people who took up smoking before the dangers were known are dying off, which will inevitably lead to a reduction in prevalence if not in the incidence of people taking up smoking. That is not sufficient, however, and it would be complacent to say, "There has been a fall." We must recognise that the product kills, that it is addictive and that the people who manufacture it seek to recruit more smokers.
The Government must recognise that a comprehensive tobacco strategy has to do more than just ban tobacco advertising. There is a role for increased tobacco duty, but a one-club approach must not be used, because tobacco duty increases create the climate for increased smuggling. Unless commensurate action is taken to curb smoking and to impound smuggled tobacco, simply increasing duty, which may or may not produce more revenue for the Exchequer, will not solve the problem of access to tobacco.
Indeed, if the price of tobacco sold legally and carrying health warnings were increased significantly without tobacco smuggling being curbed, one would lose all the benefits of the price increase as well as those of the point-of-sale health warnings. There are no point-of-sale health warnings in pub car parks and increased tobacco duty is no price barrier for smuggled goods.
Again, the Government appear complacent, because the Secretary of State boasted that the number of cigarettes impounded by Customs and Excise has risen from 2 billion in 1999–2000 to 3 billion in 2000–01. As we heard from the hon. Member for Woodspring, the number of cigarettes estimated to have been smuggled increased in the same period from 14 billion to 17 billion. Despite more cigarettes being impounded, which is no surprise considering the increased flow, 2 billion more cigarettes net are being sold illegally to young people in this country, including young teenage girls, in pub car parks and elsewhere, without price barriers and health warnings. That is a failure of Government policy.
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the Proceeds of Crime Bill, which has been through the House and is being considered by the other place, will go a long way to attack the white van people who bring those cigarettes in? What he says about the Government doing nothing is not exactly true.
I hope that that Bill will do something, but my point is not that the Government are doing nothing, although they are not doing enough, but that they should not tell people that the situation is improving because of the increased capture of smuggled cigarettes when the figures suggest that it is getting worse. Nor should the Government see tobacco duty increases as the only answer, because there are problems with using that as the only measure.
I am speaking against a previous policy of my party, but it is appropriate to recognise faults in previous policies when they exist. Increased tobacco duty may have either a public health effect or a revenue-raising effect. It is difficult for it to have both. Therefore, to say that hoped-for increased cigarette duty revenues should go to the health service is self-defeating, because there will be increased revenue for the health service only if people continue to buy cigarettes carrying increased duty. I used to support that policy, but it is flawed. It might be more rational to use increased cigarette duty revenues, if they exist, within Customs and Excise to block the natural consequence of increased cigarette duties. We must recognise that there is a major problem with smuggled cigarettes, especially among young people.
The Secretary of State and the Government are always careful not to antagonise anyone who might later appear in a focus group, so they talk about the right to smoke being protected and the Government being keen to make that clear. But we are really talking about the right of 70 per cent. of smokers to be addicted to cigarettes, because those people want to give up: only 30 per cent. of smokers—a small number of the population—want to continue to smoke come what may.
I realise that there are civil liberties arguments relating to smoking what is currently a legal product, but they must be balanced against arguments about the risk of harm. When the Government talk of their smoking- cessation policies, they must acknowledge that they are dealing with addiction, and with a habit that is probably the single most dangerous in terms of risk. I support their cessation programme as far as it goes, but, as the Secretary of State recognised, it must go further. The Government's attempt to restrict access to Zyban and nicotine replacement therapies, especially in terms of the length of treatment, spoilt what would otherwise have been a good policy.
Notwithstanding evidence now confirmed by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, Government funds for cessation products in the NHS were initially restricted to health action zones. When it was extended beyond those zones, the time for which Zyban could be prescribed was, at first, much less than what experts deemed to be the optimum. That may save money for hard-pressed drug budgets in the short term, but, as I know Ministers are told by advisers who know about smoking cessation, long-term investment in cessation treatment—partly drugs and partly counselling—is the single most cost-effective Government intervention. Penny-pinching and sloth are regrettable in this context.
I see the Minister responsible for public health frantically scribbling a rebuttal. To rebut what I have said, she will have to claim that her policy on nicotine replacement therapy and Zyban when she took office was the same as that recommended by NICE now. It was not, although at the time the evidence was strong.
General practitioners in my area have told me that because they do not have specific funds for smoking- cessation clinics, they must take practice nurses away from other clinics. If the Government could provide money for the grass roots without having to cut other services, we would be even more impressed by their efforts.
The right hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras made an important point about the use of cigarettes in films and on stage, and in the fashion industry. I want to hear what steps the Minister is taking in terms of persuasion—it is difficult to do this by means of legislation—to educate the fashion industry, women's magazines, the film industry in Britain at least, and television. All the work done to secure a tobacco ban through direct advertising can be undone by the visible portrayal of cigarette smoking as in some way cool in the media to which young people pay attention.
The Government had some good things to say about the health of young women, particularly girls, and their body image, but they now seem to have gone quiet. The two issues are linked: many young women and girls smoke because they think that it will help them to lose weight. It is sad that the Government have gone quiet about the dieting fad, and I hope that they will not be deterred by the scurrilous coverage of their initiative.
The right hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras made many points that I had intended to make. That is one of the problems of the Chamber and the status of my party here: we always have to follow learned and useful contributions such as his. He made an interesting point about the question of a tax on production. He knows that that is a rational policy, but he also knows that it would cost jobs in the United Kingdom. Perhaps that is the price we must pay for a moral policy on tobacco products. We have export licence controls on arms, and we are, or should be, seeking diversification of the arms industry. The tobacco industry has had plenty of warning, and I hope and believe that a similar approach is not far away.
The Conservative arguments were shocking. Smoking policy is a litmus test of public health policy, and the Conservatives' justification for their opposition was wholly unconvincing. That is not surprising, because I suspect that the Opposition spokesman's heart is not really in his objection to the Bill. It may be said that that is good for the hon. Member for Woodspring, but I think it is worse politically to say something one knows to be wrong than to stand firm—whether in the shadow Cabinet or elsewhere—and say that this policy is right and the policy of one's party and its leader stinks.
The hon. Gentleman obviously was not listening when—with, I thought, enormous conviction, and certainly with my support and that of all my hon. Friends—my hon. Friend Dr. Fox made it clear that not the ends but purely the means were in dispute. We have serious doubts that the means on offer will achieve the ends that we all want. That is the point, as the hon. Gentleman knows. He is trying to make mischief by suggesting otherwise.
Not at all. My point is that the opposition expressed by the hon. Member for Woodspring to the means was wholly unconvincing, and that the Conservatives' argument against the means proposed in the Bill stinks. Mr. Loughton—from whom I am happy to take interventions, although his hon. Friend the Member for Woodspring was not happy to take them from me—will have to defend his party's policy to the parents and children of people who will die from smoking in years to come if his party has its way. There were 18 wasted years under the Conservatives; the Government can confess to only four.
The argument about individual liberty was advanced. Clearly there are restrictions on individual liberty, but as a liberal I believe that the state has the right to restrict it if that prevents harm. The hon. Member for Woodspring refused to debate that. When it comes to the protection of individual liberty, the Conservatives pick and choose, according to their prejudice and their interest groups. He demonstrated that by his wilful refusal even to engage in debate on the example I gave him.
I am not picking and choosing. I ask the hon. Gentleman to include in his speech a reference to the Department of Health's own assessment of the Bill's impact, which it said could be from zero to 5 per cent. In other words, the Department acknowledges that the Bill may have no impact.
A basic understanding of statistics—which I suspect the hon. Gentleman has—leads to the recognition that, even on the basis of that evidence, the Bill is likely to have an effect. He may think that the reduction of 2.5 per cent.—saving 3,000 lives—is not sufficient cause for this action; he may think that the saving of 1 per cent., or something over 1,200 lives, is not sufficient cause; he may think that the saving of only one life is not sufficient cause. That is where he and I disagree. I believe that when there is clear evidence of harm, it is reasonable to restrict the liberty of businesses to sell, or at least to advertise, a dangerous product.
I was going to deal with that. I have no qualms about defending our policy of seeking to decriminalise cannabis as a first step towards its legalisation.
The point made about the Smee report did not surprise me. We know that the Conservatives are prepared to ignore expert advice. When it comes to the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination, for instance, they call on the Government to disregard the advice of experts. It is easy for them to do that in opposition, but responsible politics means accepting the advice of experts even if it conflicts with earlier policy. The Conservative party seems to be unable to do that.
My party's position on cannabis is entirely rational. What is irrational is allowing the legal sale of a product—tobacco—that kills hundreds of thousands of people every year while seeking to restrict the sale of cannabis, despite the harm done by thus driving cannabis users into the clutches of those who want to push more dangerous drugs. The irrationality lies in supporting the legal use of one and not the other. That is an important point. My party does not promote the smoking of cannabis. It certainly does not want the advertising of cannabis to be legalised. Nevertheless, the argument that cannabis is more dangerous than cigarettes is ridiculous.
Again, the Conservative opposition to the decriminalisation of cannabis, and the conservative opposition to it in the Government, is based on politics: they believe that a substantial number of the population do not wish it to be decriminalised. They do not have a rational drugs policy. We believe that drugs policy should include tobacco and alcohol. The committee advising the Government on these things should have a wider remit. The current situation is nonsense.
Conservative Members may not agree with us, but at least we have no qualms about saying it from the Front Bench. We do not rely on siren voices from the Back Benches such as Mr. Lilley, who has called for even wider legalisation, including not just cannabis.
I turn to the lessons to be learned from the Ecclestone affair. This is not necessarily the place to pick over that sordid business again.
I will not. However, it is another example of the way the system of funding political parties, even if it is not corrupt, gives the appearance of corruption. It makes it very difficult for the Government to make policy on tobacco when such amounts of money flow backwards and forwards. It certainly makes it impossible for their tobacco policy to appear to be free from influence from donors.
It is no good the Government saying that they publish their donors. Saying to the British people, "We will tell you when you are being conned," is not an argument to which they will respond. It is not sufficient to say, "If we are found out, or if there is some question about propriety, we will give the money back," because the damage will have been done to the image of politics. That is yet another good example of why funding of parties should be restricted to small individual donations and to state funding, which should be proportionate to popular support.
On the European Union and its tobacco subsidies, I agree with the hon. Member for Woodspring. It is a scandal that a third of the product is burned and a third exported to developing countries. My party's approach to the EU is critical where we disagree. I believe—indeed, I have been told this by independent observers—that criticism of the EU and particularly the policy on tobacco subsidies comes better from parties that do not automatically dismiss everything that the EU stands for. I wholeheartedly share the hon. Gentleman's view that it is an outrage. I wish that the Government could do more to change that policy—they seem to be able to get their way in Europe when blocking more progressive measures.
The Bill is at least four—and perhaps 20 or 30—years behind schedule. It is a pleasure to support it on Second Reading. To all intents and purposes, the Bill, which was introduced by my colleague, Lord Clement-Jones, in the House of Lords, is the same as that which the Government previously attempted to introduce. It is rare that the Liberal Democrats can support our own Bill on Second Reading. In fact, it is perhaps a unique occasion. I look forward to the measure reaching the statute book as quickly as possible.
I think that it has already been said: here we are again with the legislation. I remind Dr. Harris that it has been around not for four years but for many more than that. I tried to introduce a private Member's Bill on the subject in 1993–94.
To say that this Bill is four years behind schedule is a bit of a harsh analysis of what has happened in the past four years. The first issue that the Labour Government faced on coming to office in 1997 was whether to take off the block of many years that had been placed by the Conservative Government on a Europe-wide Bill. The Labour Government decided that that was the right thing to do in relation to public health, not just here but in the EU. I wholeheartedly agreed with that tactic. The fact that it fell at the European Court of Justice years later meant that we had the delay.
I owe Lord Clement-Jones a great debt of gratitude, as do all who want the legislation to be introduced. He stewarded the Bill in the other place; we were told that it would be difficult for the Government to get it through there when the Bill went to the Lords before the last general election. I am pleased to support the Bill in the form that it is in today.
On the issue of smoking cessation and the criticism of Zyban and everything else, Zyban must have been one of the quickest drugs to come to this country from America. It was immediately put on the lists for people who want to go on smoking cessation programmes. I say that as someone who has been not just actively involved in the subject for many years, but as chair of the all-party group on the pharmaceutical industry, also for many years. I know from being lobbied that the Government moved with great swiftness. There was a good response.
The hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon was right about one thing: we must ensure that people who are going to prescribe Zyban have some experience of smoking cessation. It is not just about writing a prescription. It takes a lot more than that eventually to get people off nicotine addiction. However, one or two of his comments were a bit hard.
"there is insufficient evidence that its provisions will lead to a quantifiable reduction in tobacco consumption".
I said in the debate in January last year that that was not true. We all know the findings of the Smee report, which was put together in 1992. It gave figures for the reduction of tobacco consumption in countries that went for a ban for public health reasons. In Norway, it dropped by 9 per cent., in Finland by 6.7 per cent., in Canada by 4 per cent., and in New Zealand by 5.5 per cent. Cigarette consumption falls by an average 7 per cent. when advertising is banned. I emphasise that it should be banned for the right reasons. Italy banned it to protect its home-grown tobacco industry. It did not have the effect there that it had in those other countries, which banned it for the right reasons.
Smee's report also said that the fall in smoking was on a scale that
"cannot be reasonably attributed to other factors."
"The balance of evidence thus supports that advertising does have a positive effect on consumption."
The Government said last year that we could expect a possible 2.5 per cent. reduction in consumption if advertising were banned in this country. Conservative Members seem sceptical. They say the reduction may be nil, or it may be 5 per cent. If it is nothing, what are they opposing in terms of the Bill? If it is 5 per cent., are they genuinely saying that they are right to oppose the prevention of many deaths from smoking-related diseases?
I just cannot understand the opposition to this Bill from Conservative Members—I never have done in the many years I have been involved in the issue. Even if there were a 2.5 per cent. reduction, it would stop 3,000 premature deaths a year. That is roughly eight deaths a day—more than the total death toll on our roads at the moment. The Government have put millions into finding out exactly how to reduce casualties—for example, through putting seat belts in the back of cars. What do the conservatives have against a measure that will not ban tobacco but will give people an honest chance of getting off a drug that kills 120,000 people prematurely in this country every year? Their position is very difficult to accept.
Opposition Members use the word "quantify". Many years ago, Mrs. Roe chaired the Health Committee, which published a report in 1993 on the European directive that the Conservative Government were blocking. The report concluded:
"The Government cannot continue to procrastinate on the issue of an advertising ban on the grounds that it is awaiting a level of proof about its effectiveness—which is in the nature of things unobtainable."
That goes to the heart of what we see in the reasoned amendment—and there was a Conservative majority on that Committee.
In 1993, the Smee report was discussed in Government. I got all the leaked evidence showing that the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael Heseltine, was in favour of banning tobacco advertising. I have with me the leaked letters that were sent to the Prime Minister. I read them out ad nauseam in the debate in January last year. It is evident that many people have favoured a ban for many years, but not the Conservative party as a whole.
The then Government's response to the Smee report came to the conclusion that
"tobacco advertising does affect total tobacco consumption, not just brand share. Further restrictions on tobacco advertising up to and including a ban could therefore be expected to reduce smoking".
That is still being denied by Conservative Members, yet it was the only sensible conclusion that anyone could have come to after seeing the evidence.
The report also concluded that
"other countries have introduced bans which have had a useful effect in their particular circumstances"; and that
"from the evidence available, it is not possible to quantify the size of the effect of a ban in this country with any degree of certainty."
That does not give us a licence not to implement one, though. We have certainly failed on teenage smoking.
The estimate that the Government have considered is an average of the reduction in consumption in countries that took the decision to ban tobacco advertising for public health reasons, rather than to protect home markets. The evidence is irrefutable.
We have to ask why Conservative Members continue to oppose the legislation. They give great credence to voluntary codes and ask us to rely on voluntary agreements to protect teenagers and other vulnerable groups from the influence of tobacco advertising. I have long believed that the voluntary arrangements have failed to deliver the gains in public health that we have a right to expect.
A good example of that came in the evidence taken by the Health Committee before it published its report "The Health Risks of Smoking" in 2000. In the second volume, at page 318, we can see an attempt to show that advertising supposedly designed to encourage 18 to 24-year-olds to switch brands had no effect on young people's smoking habits. Advertising agencies were giving evidence on how they pitched their advertisements at different age groups, claiming that they affected only adults, not children.
The voluntary arrangements say that no advertising will be targeted at people below the age of 18. We have heard about billboards not being near schools, but the whole point of the voluntary codes is that advertising should be pitched only at adults.
Referring to evidence submitted by a company called TBWA GCT Simons Palmer Ltd., Audrey Wise—hon. Members will recall how assiduous she was in questioning witnesses, just as she was assiduous in questioning Ministers in the House—asked the company chairman, Mr. Paul Bainsfair, to explain how he could be sure that an advertisement that would appeal to an 18-year-old would not have the same appeal for a 14 or 15-year-old.
Audrey Wise asked:
"What do you think characterises an 18-year-old male, their aspirations and things that appeal to them which would not also appeal to 14 and 15-year-old males?"
Mr. Bainsfair replied that advertisers had to stick within the bounds of the voluntary code,
"which prevents us anyway doing anything which might be seen to be deliberately attractive to children—not that we would want to . . . it would be pretty unlikely that the kind of advertising we come up with would particularly appeal to a 15 year old."
She pressed him on how a distinction is made under the voluntary code between someone under 18, or under 15, and an 18 to 24-year-old. He said:
"there is a very detailed code to which we have to submit all our ideas to make sure we are not straying into an area which could be seen to do the very thing you are suggesting we might accidentally do."
She pursued this line of questioning for several minutes until he finally admitted:
"Perhaps if I say that it is common sense that there is going to be an overlap. Some 15-year-olds are going to be more sophisticated than others. It is impossible to say that something which appeals to an 18-year-old will not appeal to a 15-year-old. If that is what you are getting at, obviously you are right."
There we have it. Mr. Bainsfair begins by stating categorically that the voluntary code prevents advertisers from doing anything to target children, goes on to say that advertising is unlikely to appeal to a 15-year-old, insists that the code prevents advertisers from targeting children, and finally admits that it is common sense that there is bound to be an overlap, thus turning his own argument on its head.
Conservative Members have referred to the voluntary code. What say they about a man who makes a living advertising the products of tobacco companies and says that he works within the guidelines of the voluntary code? The code has failed our young people for years. That is the truth. Until Conservative Members recognise it, they will never be able to understand the tobacco industry, which was well described by my right hon. Friend Mr. Dobson as targeting our young people.
People start smoking between the ages of 11 and 15; 20-year-olds never start smoking—it is not an adult choice, and never has been. I started smoking at the age of 10. That was not an adult choice. People are cynically aware that it is not an adult choice, and they exploit the voluntary codes to overcome the restrictions. It is about time the Opposition got their act together and decided to tell some of the truth about why they are again using weasel words in their amendment.
The Opposition say that this all boils down to the issues of teenagers and other vulnerable groups, and illegal imports. It is true to say that tobacco smuggling is a major problem, but it is not true to say that the Government are not doing anything about it: far from it. At least one tobacco company is still under investigation by the Department of Trade and Industry, and some of us are not convinced that when tobacco produced in this country is sent abroad and then—sometimes within seven days—arrives back in this country illegally, thereby avoiding taxes, the industry does not know about it.
I was tempted by what my right hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras said about issuing export licences, as we do for weapons made by the defence industry. Tobacco kills a lot more people than weapons do, and the manufacturers should not be allowed to get away with that.
When my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury outlined the pre-Budget report on
In just six months, the new network of X-ray scanners has detected about 80 million cigarettes and 4.5 tonnes of hand-rolling tobacco. Customs investigators have broken up 43 major organised crime rings involving the large-scale smuggling and supply of cigarettes. Also in 2000–01, Customs and Excise seized more than 10,200 cars, vans and lorries used by smugglers—almost double the number seized in 1999–2000.
Let me put that in context: of the 14 million people who entered the UK through the channel ports in 2000, 99.8 per cent. passed through without a problem. That is what the Government are doing about smuggling. We know that smuggled tobacco finds its way to young people, and that it avoids taxation, but the Government are taking action; they are spending millions of pounds at ports now.
As a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee, I can tell the House that a lot more is done about tobacco smuggling and other serious crimes in our ports, and throughout our country, than has ever been done before—and more than was even dreamed of by the Conservative party when it was in government. We will take no lessons from the Conservatives on this subject.
The Opposition amendment says that there should be
"a mechanism for testing and reflection upon the assumptions upon which the Bill is based".
The Conservatives had 18 years in office and never offered one sunset clause to us when we were in opposition, yet they want to put a clause into the Bill, which they will vote against at 10 o'clock tonight, so that if, in two or three years' time, it is not working, we can do something about it. It is extraordinary that they should make that suggestion. We could argue that case on every piece of legislation that comes before the House, but we never have done—
I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman acknowledges that sunset clauses have now become an issue. He says that tobacco kills more people than terrorism, so by his own logic, why will he not accept a sunset clause for this Bill in case, as we contend, the means that it uses are not right?
If the means are not right we will be able to sort that out pretty quickly, because as the hon. Gentleman knows, a lot will be done by regulation; the detail is not on the face of the Bill. That often happened under the Conservative Government, and it means that when people try to avoid the restrictions on promoting their products, we will be able to take swift action rather than having to come back to the Chamber and put up with amendments such as the one that the Conservatives have tabled to the Bill, which is spurious to say the least, and does not deal with the consequences of tobacco consumption.
Tobacco products have enjoyed an unprecedented degree of freedom from the safety regulations that apply to virtually all the food and drug products available in Britain today. I have never heard Conservative Members arguing that prescription drugs should be available everywhere so that people can use their freedom of choice to go out and buy them. We have always restricted the availability of things that are bad for public health. Why do the Conservatives not go along with this sensible suggestion, which will reduce cigarette consumption, just as the taxation imposed by Mr. Clarke when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer reduced it?
I do not know the answer. Perhaps the Conservatives' historical link with the tobacco industry is still there. I had a private Member's Bill talked out when the Conservative party and the tobacco companies linked up to ensure that public health measures did not make progress in the Chamber. If Opposition Members could answer my questions about how one can advertise something to an 18-year-old without affecting 15-year-olds, they might even get me thinking as they do—but as things are, they have to defend their position.
I begin by declaring the fact that although I am a non-smoker, I am a member of the all-party Lords and Commons pipe and cigar smokers club. I also have a registered interest in connection with the Tobacco Manufacturers Association. Indeed, I was once described by Mr. Simon Hoggart, in his column in The Guardian, as having the most politically incorrect entry in the Register of Members' Interests: not only had I been invited for a day's shooting, but it was the tobacco industry that invited me. I am happy to say that The Guardian—for which, incidentally, I used to work—allowed me a right of reply and paid me for my article. I declared that in the register, too.
I am a bit confused. The hon. and learned Gentleman says that he is a member of the all-party pipe and cigar smokers club. That group never appears on a Whip; as I understand it, it is a parliamentary group, not an all-party group. I would love to join it.
I am afraid that I am not a committee member of that club, or on its secretariat, but I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to find a way of joining it if he makes himself known to those concerned.
Before I reach the substance of my speech, I would like to raise something that I mentioned during an intervention on the Secretary of State. I am talking about the section 19 statement under the Human Rights Act 1998. I asked the Secretary of State what had allowed him to make that statement, and he referred me to evidence before the Joint Committee on Human Rights.
In particular, I looked at the letter sent to that Committee by the Under-Secretary of State for Health, Yvette Cooper, dated
"Paragraph 21 of your"— the Committee's—
"Report states that there should be clear evidence to support the contention that only a comprehensive advertising ban would be sufficient to bring about the desired reduction in tobacco consumption. I believe that such evidence exists. A 1999 Report from the World Bank stated . . . that 'policymakers who are interested in controlling tobacco need to know whether cigarette advertising and promotion affect consumption. The answer is that they almost certainly do, although the data are not straightforward. The key conclusion is that bans on advertising and promotion prove effective, but only if they are comprehensive, covering all media and all uses of brand names and logos.'"
That gives rise to two points. First, the Under-Secretary's belief does not constitute evidence; secondly, as the quotation that she cites makes clear, only bans that cover all media and all uses of brand names and logos prove effective, if one assumes that such data can indeed be considered straightforward. As I understand it, the Bill does not do what the report suggests is required: it does not cover
"all media and all uses of brand names and logos."
I therefore suggest that the Secretary of State have another think about his section 19 statement.
Setting aside the reasons offered by my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Conservative Front Bench, which are outlined in the amendment, I should like briefly to encourage the House to deny the Bill a Second Reading for an albeit somewhat technical, but none the less valid reason that relates to our European law obligations. Although I appreciate that, these days, discussing legal obligations in the very place where laws are made is guaranteed to empty the Chamber, it is worth making the point—
It does depend on that, and I am happy to empty the Chamber because doing so would enable me to continue without being interrupted. Nevertheless, given that a Minister from the Department of Health is present, and given that, in terms of the Bill, the Government's attitude to our obligations under European Union law has changed, I shall briefly outline my arguments.
The purpose of the EU's directive on technical standards and regulations, which applies to all industrially manufactured products and agricultural produce, is to prevent the creation of technical barriers to trade. Under it, member states are required to notify the Commission about proposed technical regulations, so that within a three-month standstill period before their coming into effect, other affected states, the Commission itself or interested bodies can make representations and, if necessary, ensure through the Commission that any harmful provisions are deleted or amended. That presupposes that the regulations are put to the Commission in a form that can be amended, and at a stage of their legislative development at which they can be amended.
It is not controversial that the Bill, if enacted, will provide the Secretary of State with considerable powers in terms of making secondary legislation. There is not time today to set out my arguments against the growing habit in government of creating criminal law through secondary legislation, which is drawn up and passed into law by members of the Executive without adequate scrutiny by the Legislature. However, as recently as
When I say "from the outset", one must remember that, although the Bill was introduced in the Lords last November—by Lord Clement-Jones—as a private Member's Bill, it is virtually identical to the Government Bill that fell victim to the Dissolution of Parliament in June 2001. For the Government to have admitted that the Bill needed to be notified would clearly have created an inconvenience. The one thing about which this Government do not like to be reminded is their connection with the tobacco industry, motor sport and money. The Ecclestone affair, the first of many such scandals that have come to haunt this self-righteous Government, hurt the Prime Minister personally and began the list of scandals that have dogged the Labour party and the Government, and which—even in last weekend's newspapers—continues to sugar the pill of Opposition life and activity.
It was therefore understandable that a three-month standstill was undesirable for the Government. Not only would it prolong the period in which the links between the Government, a Labour party donor and public policy would be in the public eye, it would also remind the public, health professionals and those who believe that a ban on tobacco advertising is essential for the promotion of public health that, far from this apparently all-powerful Government being able to make laws as they wish, they must dance to a tune and to a timetable set by an extra-territorial and unelected political power: the European Commission.
I wonder whether my hon. and learned Friend might explain one point to those of us who lack his legal expertise and experience. In Denmark and Norway, legislation along those lines was introduced and was subjected to that three-month standstill. What will happen if the Commission decides in due course that that standstill should be imposed, and we have started—and perhaps concluded—our deliberations in Committee?
I begin by gently reminding my hon. Friend that such legislation was introduced in Denmark and the Netherlands. Norway is not a member of the European Union, so it is not susceptible to EU directives. None the less, his general point is perfectly reasonable. I can only assume that the EU would have to strike down the legislation, or at least that the courts would refuse to enforce the secondary legislation through which regulations were made under the Bill.
My argument that the Government should delay agreeing to the Bill's Second Reading has nothing to do with the merits of the arguments for or against advertising, or of those for or against smoking—I happen to think that smoking is a disgusting and filthy habit—but it has everything to do with behaving in a communautaire sense, and of being acutely aware of our treaty obligations. The Government have only just become aware of those obligations. They must follow the logic of the notification date of
Does the hon. and learned Gentleman's point derive from the depth of his legal knowledge, or has he been briefed on it by someone from the tobacco industry?
There are two answers to that question. First, yes, I did think of it myself, because I am interested in the way in which this Government apparently claim that they are hugely enthusiastic about the European Union and all that flows from it. Secondly, as the right hon. Gentleman has doubtless done, I have read the Official Report of the Lords debate, and the issue of notification was raised in the other place both on Report and at earlier stages. He will doubtless have read the letter from seven Members of the House of Lords to the European Commission, a copy of which is in the Library of both Houses, asking whether the Bill is notifiable legislation. No doubt he has discussed the matter with his colleagues on the Front Bench, and has read the Commission's reply, which confirms that the Bill is indeed notifiable. The Commission wonders why the Government have not done what they ought to do: to notify, just as the Governments and Parliaments of the Netherlands and Denmark did.
I have declared my relationship with the tobacco industry. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that, while shooting with tobacco industry representatives, we do not talk only about shooting; we also talk—surprise, surprise—about matters of legislation that affect the tobacco industry. There would be little point in the tobacco industry asking me to come along purely for a bit of outdoor relief, as the right hon. Gentleman put it. It has a huge interest in the Bill, and I sympathise with the concerns that it, and many others outside the tobacco industry, have about the way in which this Government bully and nanny and seek to control every inch of our daily lives. I know that Mr. Dobson is a kind-hearted fellow and he will perhaps wish to consider the tiresome and technical issues of notification to see how they will affect the progress of the Bill. However, if he is like so many other Labour Members, who have decided that they are right and nothing that anybody else can say will change their minds or shade their opinions, that tells us more about him than it does about the tobacco industry, or even me.
The Government do not want to admit that the three-month standstill is not the limit of the Commission's power to delay. If during that time the Commission or a member state delivers a detailed opinion that identifies in the Bill, or any regulation under it, any provision that will or could create obstacles to the free movement of goods or services within the internal market, the standstill period could be extended by a further three months. Furthermore, under the technical standards and regulations directive, the member state whose legislation is under scrutiny—in this case, this country—is obliged to consider and respond to the detailed comments made on its legislation. However, it gets worse. The total standstill period can be extended for as long as 12 months if, within the initial three months, the Commission announces that it has found that the legislation in question concerns a matter that is covered by a proposed directive, regulation or decision of its own. There can even be circumstances in which the standstill period goes on for a total of 18 months.
The purpose of the delay periods is to ensure legislative harmony throughout the European Union, which I would have thought was something that this euro-friendly Government would wish to see. Whether one is pro or anti the European Union, or for or against the making of criminal law outside this Parliament, it is surely sensible that if we are part of a single market governed by the European Union and its laws, the laws of individual member states should not conflict with each other, create unlawful barriers to trade or give member states unfair advantages over other member states. After all, as soon as the Chancellor's five economic tests are met, the Government want to enter the single European currency. The Prime Minister can see no constitutional reason for not doing so and does not believe that the UK's accession to the euro can have any deleterious consequences for our national sovereignty or our independence.
If the Prime Minister is sure about that great issue, he surely must have no qualms about adhering to European law in relation to tobacco advertising and the technical standards and regulations directive. The Danes notified the Commission and were content with a standstill, as were the Government of the Netherlands. What is so special about this Government and this Bill that allows them to give it a Second Reading, and complete its remaining stages, before the expiry of the initial—and, possibly, only—three-month standstill period, which is due to happen on
If the Government have the courage of their European convictions and genuinely believe in the process that they began by belatedly notifying the Commission on
I would normally begin by making some remarks about the previous contribution, but I lost the drift of Mr. Garnier after his third sentence. I apologise for not being able to comment on the detail of his speech, although I note that he and his two hon. Friends who have signed the reasoned amendment that was not selected have registered interests, presumably related to the tobacco industry. I can only assume that the hon. and learned Gentleman is attempting to wreck a positive and long overdue measure.
I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman did not understand what I was saying. Perhaps the problem was that my remarks were not addressed to him but to Ministers. The purpose of the reasoned amendment that my hon. Friends and I tabled was not to wreck the Bill but to bring it into compliance with this country's European obligations under the treaty of Rome.
I thank the hon. and learned Gentleman for that brief summary of what he took half an hour to say.
It has been a privilege to listen to some of the contributions in tonight's debate. In particular, I wish to pay tribute to the contribution from my right hon. Friend Mr. Dobson and to praise the efforts that he has made over many years to address the issue of tobacco consumption. I also pay tribute to my right hon. Friend Mr. Barron, who year after year has attempted to get a similar measure through the House. I have been present on many occasions when such Bills have been wrecked and talked out by tactics not dissimilar to those behind the reasoned amendment that the hon. and learned Member for Harborough has tabled.
I welcomed the Bill in the last Parliament and it was a deep disappointment to me and, I suspect, to many Ministers that the measure was not included in the Queen's Speech. I welcome the Lords' initiative, regardless of the political background. It is a sensible measure and I pay genuine tribute to the peer who has worked hard to ensure that the Bill has got so far.
Several hon. Members have mentioned the fact that 120,000 avoidable deaths every year are directly related to tobacco consumption. We bandy those figures about without any real consideration of what they mean for all the bereaved families. I represent Wakefield, and to me the fact that double the number of people living in that city die every year nationwide puts the figure in perspective. It is a scandal and a disgrace that we should accept those deaths as inevitable. They are not, and I am grateful that the Government are doing something about them.
When counting the dreadful losses that happen every year, perhaps we could reflect that 15 people an hour die prematurely from diseases linked to smoking. So far in the debate, that is about 40 deaths, several of which may have occurred while we were listening to the interminable speech from the Liberal Democrats' Front-Bench spokesman. They were probably a merciful release.
My hon. Friend makes his point in an interesting way. I might add that Professor Sir Richard Peto, who advised the Health Committee in the last Parliament during its inquiry into the tobacco industry and the risks of smoking, has calculated that 1 billion people will die worldwide from smoking by the end of the present century. How can that be allowed to happen? History will judge us all on that figure.
I apologise for not being here earlier in the debate, but I was attending a Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation. As my hon. Friend knows, eight out of 10 people who smoke wish that they had never taken it up and seven out of 10 would like to give up if they could. Does he believe that advertising is a major factor in people taking up smoking in the first place?
My hon. Friend served on the Health Committee in the last Parliament and was present for many sessions of evidence—and saw the written evidence—that clearly demonstrated the obvious connection. The Committee reached an all-party consensus that there is a clear connection between advertising and consumption. The link is obvious to all of us who have looked in detail at the issue.
Tomorrow the Queen will visit Parliament to address Members of both Houses in Westminster Hall, as part of the golden jubilee celebrations. Unfortunately, I have alternative engagements. Interestingly, it is also 50 years since Parliament was first informed by a predecessor of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health of the clear connection between smoking and ill health. One has to ask why it has taken so long for us to get round to taking this obvious and sensible step. In relation to tobacco consumption, what does the golden jubilee mean? To me, it means 50 years of denial of clear evidence of a link between smoking and ill health; 50 years of premature and avoidable deaths; and 50 years of marketing tobacco to attract new consumers to replace those who have died. To me, it means 50 years of this Parliament bowing to the squalid commercial interests of the tobacco companies.
It is a political fact that the Conservative party has been funded by the tobacco companies over a long period. When in office, they wrecked every attempt to control tobacco advertising. I have referred to the attempts of my right hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley and others to introduce such controls.
I am interested in the Tories' reasoned amendment, and in the arguments of Dr. Fox about freedom. I strongly suspect, as others have said, that the hon. Gentleman does not believe in the reasoned amendment. I also strongly suspect that the others who have put their name to it do not agree with its content. I say that because Mr. Burns, who unfortunately is not in his place, signed up to the Health Committee report, which said:
"We welcome the Government's commitment to end all forms of tobacco advertising and sponsorship".
I pay tribute to the hon. Member for West Chelmsford, who is himself a smoker, for his efforts on the Committee regarding this important inquiry. I suspect that he, too, does not really believe what the reasoned amendment says.
I was proud to see a different direction taken by the new Labour Government in 1997. For the first time in many years there was a clear and important public health agenda. Dr. Harris, who has left the Chamber, talked about four wasted years. I was astonished that the hon. Gentleman appeared to pass over some crucial public health measures that related directly to smoking. An advertising ban was proposed in the Government's first Queen's Speech in 1997. To the great credit of my right hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, the very important "Smoking Kills" White Paper was produced. It pointed us in a fundamentally different direction, which I actively supported as long overdue.
We also had the Formula 1 aberration. It is interesting to note that the first report of the Health Committee in the previous Parliament was highly critical of the exemptions allowed to Formula 1. I was reminded of that watching the television news last night. I am not particularly interested in Formula 1—frankly, I would prefer to watch paint dry—although I understand that some people find it attractive. I saw Schumacher being interviewed on television, his jacket plastered in Marlboro signs. It was a fairly obvious point, which reminded me of what we had discussed at the beginning of the previous Parliament. The Formula 1 issue typifies the way in which the tobacco companies have conned politicians for the past 50 years. I suspect that there were many on the health team in government during that time who believed that we were being conned and had nothing to do with it.
Sport and sponsorship are important areas of concern. My sport, the great game of rugby league football, has been heavily involved with the tobacco industry for many years but has successfully weaned itself off tobacco. I was reminded of that last Saturday at Murrayfield, at a game which, incidentally, was the first ever attended by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Scotland Office, who is now a convert for life to our great game. It is possible for a sport to move away from its dependence on tobacco. We have some excellent sponsors in rugby league by the name of Kellogg's. The only downside of an excellent day out on Saturday was having to spend the best part of eight hours in a GNER smoking compartment on the train up to Scotland, because that was the only compartment where I could get a seat. I found it frankly impossible, but smoking compartments are getting smaller and smaller and I hope that before too long we will not have any at all.
I certainly believe that there is no justification for not moving in that direction. I felt at the time that the arguments for exempting Formula 1 were questionable; other sports could have made similar arguments. Interestingly, the Health Committee had Mr. Bernie Ecclestone and Mr. Max Mosley as witnesses, and I did not find them particularly convincing. I believe that there are no arguments for not moving away from tobacco sponsorship, as rugby league and other sports have done.
Let me refer briefly, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley did, to the Health Committee inquiry into the tobacco industry that took place in the previous Parliament. It is well known that we were able to obtain documents relating to advertising and marketing that had not previously seen the light of day. There was clear evidence from that information that the voluntary code on advertising was meaningless and long overdue for replacement with something much more robust. Among other things, the voluntary code, requires companies to ensure that
"Smoking should not be associated with social, sexual, romantic or business success . . . advertisements should not link smoking with people who are evidently wealthy, fashionable."
It goes on to say:
"Advertisements should . . . avoid employing any approach which is more likely to attract the attention or sympathy of those under the age of 18 . . . no advertisement should exaggerate the pleasure of smoking or claim that it is daring or glamorous to smoke."
We found no explicit evidence that tobacco companies knowingly and deliberately targeted children, but there was plenty of evidence, which can be seen in our report, that they went to great pains to portray smoking as cool and glamorous in a way that was certain to entice youngsters to take it up. For example, the aim of a 1998 CDP/Gallaher promotion was to
"boost Benson and Hedges image with style-conscious 18-24s."
A creative brief for Rothmans suggested:
"we want to engage people's aspirations and fantasies" so that they think:
"I'd like to be there, do that, own that."
To me, that is in direct contravention of the voluntary code. The all-party Committee concluded that it was difficult to see how this material, intended to engage the fantasies of 18-year-olds, would leave 14 or 15-year-olds unmoved.
I welcome the Bill. One of the great tragedies of our time is seeing youngsters, particularly young girls, take up smoking. I see it happening every day, and I feel profoundly sad because although I smoked at that age, I did not know the consequences of doing so.
I welcome the proposed European Union directive, which is crucial. I also argue strongly, as others have done, that worldwide initiatives are needed as the tobacco companies move increasingly towards poor, third-world countries to find markets for their product. The Bill is a step in the right direction.
As the Health Committee argued, we need to anticipate the tobacco industry's tactics. My right hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras talked about being prepared. The Health Committee felt that there was a need for a tobacco regulatory authority that could anticipate the tactics of the tobacco companies in years to come.
I hope that the Bill is successful and that we can look back and say that we in this Parliament did something that should have been done 50 years ago.
I want to make a brief speech that will set out a dissonant, and possibly solitary, view among Conservative Members. I welcome the Bill and hope that it is given a Second Reading. When I spoke in the debate on the Queen's Speech nearly a year ago, I commented on the Government's priorities in finding time to ban foxhunting, but not to ban tobacco advertising. There is simply no comparison in the consequences for society of those two activities. It was absurd for the Government to get into a muddle on that, and I am glad that a private Member's Bill is putting things right.
I am afraid that I cannot support the Opposition amendment. Each time this debate is raised within my party, there is a serious discussion between the libertarians and those committed to public health policy. Mr. Barron touched on an exchange when the Conservatives were in government between Lord Heseltine and the rest of the Administration, which amplified the existence of that debate within the Conservative party. On this issue, I come down firmly on the side of public health.
It is worth reminding the House that important policies, such as the compulsory wearing of crash helmets and seat belts, both of which raised the same moral issues about the freedom of the individual and public health policy as a ban on smoking does, were introduced under a Conservative Government. It was a Conservative Government who consistently allowed the addition of fluoride to the water supply, so my party is not a stranger to such debates, nor does it always come down on the libertarian side as opposed to the public health side.
I agree with what the hon. Member for Wakefield said: when people look back at the development of public health policy in this country, they will be amazed at the time it has taken for us to come to terms with smoking-related diseases. This country led the world in combating water-borne diseases, in tackling poor housing, in developing a clean air policy and in developing and promoting vaccination. Smoking-related diseases, however, have not been tackled effectively by public policy since the early 1960s and the publication of the Royal College of Physicians report.
As a former Health Minister, I am prepared to accept my share of responsibility for that, although we had a strategy for putting the measure on the statute book some 20 years ago. Having said that, it is a little difficult to accept the assertion from a party that has had a majority of more than 160 for five years that it is somehow our fault that the Bill's provisions are not already law.
The debate needs to be put in the broader context of health policy, and in particular of the investment of huge resources in conventional medicine. Last week, I re-read the Secretary of State's speech in the Budget debate and found no mention of preventive medicine, health education or public health. The emphasis was entirely on acute medicine, primary care and social services. I very much hope that some of the huge sums that we debated last week will filter through to public health and to health education and prevention. I also hope that the new primary care trusts will be able to focus on public health, given all the other targets that they have been set.
So far as the investment of money in conventional medicine is concerned, we are reaching the point of diminishing returns. There is widespread concern that the huge investment in acute medicine will not result in corresponding outcomes. The gains in the quality of life that we all want to see are more likely to come from people voluntarily making sensible decisions about their lifestyle.
On the nanny state, as a Conservative I believe that people should voluntarily come to informed decisions about their lifestyle. Rather than telling people what they should do, I prefer people to want to do it. If people are to make valid decisions about lifestyle, however, they need all the relevant information in front of them to come to a rational decision. The problem with smoking is that if we leave it to the tobacco companies, consumers—especially young consumers—get a one-sided picture. So we either have to balance the commercial budget with a public budget of comparable size, or restrict the commercial budgets and the promotion of a legal, but lethal, product. The first option would be unaffordable. The second has been the policy since television ads were banned in, I think, the 1960s, but it has never been followed through effectively.
The argument that advertising simply promotes brand awareness is strictly for the birds. I remember an advertising executive justifying the huge sums that used to be spent on advertising toothpaste. He told me that advertising promoted not just the brand, but an awareness of oral hygiene. I think he was right. Intuitively, we know that to be the case. We have all seen television advertisements for holidays and thought that the place featured looks nice, but we often do not absorb the name of the tour operator, or we forget it pretty quickly. The image of a nice holiday remains with us, however. Advertising cigarettes creates an aura of legitimacy and acceptability, which is just what the tobacco companies want to create.
I am not a fan of legislation if there is an alternative. I have examined the voluntary agreement and became convinced some 20 years ago that such a policy would never work because the industry would not agree voluntarily to measures that damaged it. I spent many weeks in direct and frustrating negotiations with the Tobacco Advisory Council. At one point, I suggested that the health warning should be printed not just on the cigarette pack, but on each cigarette. I was told that the ink was carcinogenic and might damage the smoker's health. The industry did not fear individual measures such as the increase in duty, the ban on smoking in public places or the health warnings, though it disliked them all heartily; what it minded was the depiction of smoking as an anti-social, uncool and dirty habit, and its advertising is aimed at establishing smoking as acceptable social behaviour.
Some 20 years ago, the then Government had a strategy for introducing a measure such as that set out in the Bill. In 1981, there was going to be a miscellaneous health services Bill with nothing in it about tobacco advertising, but with a long title that was broad enough for an amendment to ban advertising to be in order. That would have been moved as the Bill went through Parliament and the Secretary of State for Health, Lord Jenkin of Roding, and I would have voted for it on a free vote, together with a substantial number of Conservative MPs. I have no doubt that the House would have supported it and the measure would have reached the statute book. However, there was a shuffle of key personnel as the strategy was being developed and the Bill was dropped from the legislative programme, which I very much regret. This Bill gets us back on target.
I do not claim that banning advertising will solve the problem, but together with upward pressure on prices through tax, growing restrictions on smoking in public places and better health promotion and education, it will form part of a solution that may have a bigger impact on public health than the Budget measures we discussed last week.
This is the second time that we have debated such a Bill and I want to address my remarks to the positive effects it will have if it becomes law, especially on tackling the take-up of smoking among young people and on breaking the habit among pregnant women.
The Bill's provisions are crucial for the health and well-being of future generations. If the Bill is enacted, future young adults will become smokers only through informed choice, not through the malign effect of advertising and the disingenuous linking of tobacco products with sporting prowess. Michael Schumacher's Formula 1 supremacy will not be challenged by the forced removal of the corporate tobacco logos that festoon him and his car. If an altruistic tobacco company—if such an oxymoronic concept exists—is sufficiently committed to a particular sport or event, the Bill allows donations from the corporate source as long as there is no reciprocity in the relationship that leads to the promotion of tobacco products.
The tobacco-stained Conservative party has decided, astonishingly, that there is no evidence that a ban would discourage young people, or anyone else for that matter, from taking up smoking. Conservatives seem to be saying, "It can't be banned outright, so it's not worth doing anything about it." Indeed, they have tabled an amendment to that effect. Naturally, that begs the question: why spend hundreds of millions of pounds a year on advertising and promotion if it has no influence at all on the take-up of such an addictive product?
The answer is that there is, of course, a causal link between advertising and smoking prevalence, which has been demonstrated, as previous speakers have made clear, by the drop in the number of smokers following advertising bans in other countries. Finland banned the advertising of tobacco products in 1978, and saw a 34 per cent. drop in consumption. The Norwegians reduced the tobacco-smoking proportion of their population from 40 per cent. in 1975, when a ban was introduced, to 33 per cent. by 1999.
There are several other continental examples, but I suspect that the Conservatives, with their social and cultural antipathy towards Europe, will accept only home-grown examples as valid illustrations of the link between advertising and cigarette consumption. As my hon. Friend Dr. Stoate said a moment ago, 83 per cent. of the more than 12 million smokers in the UK would not, given their time again, take up smoking because of the knowledge that we now have. According to Action on Smoking and Health, the vast majority of smokers took up smoking in their teenage years. What made them start?
Of course, it is rarely one thing that causes people to take up such a dangerous habit, but it is clear that tobacco advertising and promotion is a factor in obscuring the health risks inherent in tobacco consumption. Young people, quite naturally, are less concerned about mortality and more concerned with image and a projection of adult status as early as possible. Smoking is perceived as one way of achieving that, hence the fact that the vast majority of UK smokers start in their teens. This is an archetypal smoke and mirrors approach by a tobacco industry that obscures the medical facts by stressing the street image, and no matter what is said it is specifically aimed at young people.
Although the current voluntary restrictions on advertising in magazines aimed at the early and late teen market are welcome, it is obvious that those are not the only magazines read by people in that age group. Just as smoking is perceived as an adult recreation, so are the magazines that no doubt litter the table of the Conservative Whips Office, such as Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, GQ, Loaded, Viz and FHM, and there is nothing to stop young people flicking through those magazines. The tobacco industry is fully aware of the subversive and anti-authority appeal of smoking, and it exploits that in its advertising. Those who venture to working class suburbs south of the river in London will see billboard adverts by Lambert and Butler that intentionally use puerile humour to promote a product that kills 120,000 people annually.
What I have said should not be taken to suggest that young people are not sophisticated and intelligent—far from it—but society often tells them that they are not, so many young people cannot resist buying into something that is designated as adult, and which cannot be resisted on grounds of obscenity or anything else. Of course, the habit, once established by physical or psychological addiction, will cause damage as long as the person is a committed smoker, which may be many years.
According to the Tobacco Manufacturers Association, tobacco companies advertise for only three reasons: to reinforce brand values and sales to existing smokers to support their continued choice; to invite smokers of competitive brands to switch; and to introduce existing smokers to new brands and new developments in the market. Frankly, however, that is not even half the story. British American Tobacco, Imperial and Gallaher make the vast majority of the 300-plus brands available in the United Kingdom, and their annual aggregate marketing spend has been estimated at more than £120 million, which seems excessive merely to accommodate consumer choice and awareness of the different brands made by the same manufacturer.
There are plenty of examples of the complacent and medically mendacious culture and history of tobacco products that existed before the ban on TV advertising was introduced in 1965, and these should act as a spur to create a political consensus, which I believe is present in the House, although we are reluctant to acknowledge it, to consign to the bin of history the helping hand that advertising gives tobacco.
The American researchers Saffer and Chaloupka, who contributed to the 1999 World Bank report on tobacco consumption, "Curbing the Epidemic", stated after studying data from 22 countries that
"tobacco advertising increases tobacco consumption. The empirical research also shows that comprehensive advertising bans can reduce tobacco consumption . . . A limited set of advertising bans will not reduce the total level of advertising expenditure but will simply result in substitution to the remaining non-banned media."
We need to address that, but it remains to be seen whether we will do so in this Bill or in future legislation. It has implications for the development of the technologies provision of the Bill, and e-commerce in particular.
I say in all honesty to the Under-Secretary of State for Health, my hon. Friend Yvette Cooper, whose work as the first public health Minister in any western European Government all Labour Members admire, that there is a loophole in the Bill that tobacco companies will be quick to exploit once a ban covering all media apart from the internet comes into effect, as I am sure it will. That, I predict, will lead straight to the e-mail accounts of young people in the form of unsolicited junk, or spam, mail because the Bill does not make sufficient demands on internet service providers to monitor content. That is an area to which we will have to return in the near future. We may need separate legislation governing internet content of a prohibited nature; otherwise members of another generation will be beguiled by the same images that created the appalling statistic of 120,000 premature deaths each year.
The current system of self-regulation simply hands the power to the tobacco giants to make token changes and present them as major concessions. The fact that they do not advertise on billboards within 200 yd of a school but simultaneously dismiss the link between advertising and taking up smoking is proof enough that self-policing does not work. Voluntary agreements have been good for the industry but bad for the public. The dubious awareness campaigns indulged in by tobacco companies are cynical exercises in lip service and false concern. In the words of one legal drug baron, the expenditure on schemes to prevent young people from smoking
"will damage us very little."
What of the success of the cessation campaign launched on MTV last April by BAT, Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco? The campaign ran until June, and as yet there has been no move by any of the companies involved to assess and publish its effects on the take-up of smoking by young people, so let me briefly turn to that. In the UK, according to figures released by BAT, the MTV campaign ads were seen at least once by 33 per cent. of 16 to 34-year-olds living in houses that receive MTV and four or more times by 17.7 per cent. That means that two thirds of the target audience did not see the ads at all. Those figures do not account for the fact that only 40 per cent. of UK households receive MTV, so only 13 per cent. of young people in the UK, fewer than one in seven, encountered the campaign once during its life.
Tobacco advertising is particularly prevalent in low-income and high-unemployment areas. Figures from ASH show that, in 2000, 34 per cent. of men and 29 per cent. of women in manual occupations smoked, compared with 23 per cent. of men and 22 per cent. of women in non-manual occupations. There has been a slower decline in smoking among manual groups, so it has become increasingly concentrated in those groups.
The use of marketing strategies promoting relatively low-cost cigarettes that ease the anxiety, embarrassment or perception of inferior quality associated with smoking cheaper cigarettes creates a false solidarity with low-income consumers, whom the tobacco industry increasingly sees as its core customers. The names of the lower price cigarettes—Mayfair, Sovereign, Royals and Richmond—ooze exclusivity and affluence. The concentration and variety of tobacco adverts in working-class areas is further evidence of demographic targeting, and proof that a higher rate of tobacco consumption is a major factor in the statistically poorer health experience of people in those communities.
Is my hon. Friend aware that 6,000 people in Wales die as a result of smoking-related illnesses? Given the relative deprivation of Wales compared with the rest of the United Kingdom, does he agree that it is deliberately targeted by advertising promotions?
The appalling conclusion from all the evidence in the public domain is that urban and deprived areas in the UK, including Wales, are specifically targeted. It is not solely the third world that is seen as a market to which tobacco companies can transfer their products as smoking declines among the adult population.
Teenage girls are more likely to take up smoking than their male counterparts. The presumption of sophistication and the perception of cigarettes as a method of keeping weight down are a factor in their starting to smoke, which suggests that our society is sending mixed messages to young women some years off adulthood. Thirty-three per cent. of pregnant women continue to smoke during pregnancy—a figure that increases dramatically to 51 per cent. among pregnant women in low-income households. The Royal College of Midwives says:
"High rates of smoking in pregnancy are prevalent in women from households experiencing unemployment, poverty, poor housing conditions, social isolation and lone parenting."
The high incidence of teenage pregnancies in the UK, combined with the higher incidence of smoking among teenage girls on low incomes, is a major problem that is not helped by misleading tobacco advertisements; the health warnings on cigarette packets specifically targeting pregnant women are obviously not sufficient to tackle the problem. Smoking has dramatic effects on women's reproductive health: ectopic pregnancy, where a foetus develops outside the uterus, is two and a half times more likely; primary and secondary sub-fertility increases; the risk of spontaneous abortion, particularly of normal foetuses, is increased, as is the risk of placental abruption. Foetal health is compromised, with the oxygen supply reduced, the risk of low birth rate doubled, lung function and foetal development affected through the passage of heavy metals—lead and cadmium—and an increase in foetal heart rate.
Cigarettes are wrongly seen as a way of dealing with stress; in fact, they act as a habitual crutch and lead to the storing up of stress. Pregnancy, like life, can be incredibly stressful, as my wife has told me on five or six occasions. Some pregnant women regard cigarettes as a form of personal reward, but the stress of pregnancy is as nothing compared with the stress of a child with behavioural difficulties or the premature loss of a parent.
In conclusion, the Bill is not about puritanical non-smokers dictating the lifestyle habits of a significant minority, but is a call for a halt to the voracious appetite of huge tobacco corporations, which last year made pre-tax profits of about £3 billion from the beguiling effects of advertising and their endless pursuit of higher profits at the expense of people's lives and health. The tobacco industry has more than sufficient residual scope to push its drugs even when the Bill is enacted. It can do so through product placement on television and films, the use of public figures and celebrities, continued advertising in tobacco retailers' premises and supermarket kiosks and the internet loophole, which is the only regrettable aspect of the Bill. With that exception, the Bill is a vital step in improving the nation's health and I commend it to the House.
Listening to David Taylor, who said that brand names portrayed an aura of luxury, I could not help but think of the slogan of Camel cigarettes—"You can with a Camel." I had a vision of Arabs sitting around an oasis thinking, "Oh gosh, this is a life of luxury." I hope that that demonstrates the balderdash that he has been talking for the last few minutes.
I confess that I am in danger of falling into the category of tainted Conservative—tainted by the tobacco industry—as twice in my life I have been closely involved with the city of Nottingham, for which I was proud to be a Member of Parliament from 1983 to 1987. The tobacco industry was the largest employer in the city, and played an important part in the local economy. I am also a graduate of Bristol university. Anyone who knows that university will know that it was built entirely by tobacco money. Indeed, the main building is called the Wills Memorial building. The hon. Member for North-West Leicestershire therefore portrayed the tobacco industry rather unfairly, as it has created jobs, prosperity and opportunity for generations of people for centuries.
Developing the hon. Gentleman's argument a little, one could almost suggest that the occasional philanthropic gestures of slave traders were sufficient to justify their evil activities. His argument does not hold water at all.
The hon. Gentleman is right; the tobacco industry succeeded the slave trade in Bristol, but before we go into the rights and wrongs of Wilberforce and others, we should stick to the principle of debating the Bill.
I support the reasoned amendment. I cannot support the Bill because I am simply not persuaded by Government Members that it will have the effect that they say it will. Listening to today's debate, I could not help but have a sense of deja vu, and was reminded of our foxhunting debates over the years. The argument involves morality versus freedom, and, as a member of the liberal wing of the Conservative party, I favour the case for freedom. It also involves pragmatism versus idealism. There is no easy answer to the problem, although there is in the eyes of the Government—"Ban it"—but I am uncomfortable with such intervention.
Does the hon. Gentleman really believe that tobacco advertising has no effect whatever on the consumption of tobacco? Does he honestly think that young people are not in any way seduced into smoking by advertising?
The hon. Gentleman prejudges my speech. I intend to address both points, if he will bear with me. I share the view that a reduction in the consumption of tobacco is desirable. Unusually, I agreed with 80 per cent. of the trenchant speech made by Mr. Dobson, but he was talking about the evils of tobacco, about which few would disagree. The question is whether the Bill will achieve its intended effect. I do not believe that it will. Adults should be free to make an informed choice.
John Robertson asked whether tobacco would be banned if it were discovered today. That is a fair question, but I do not think that it would be. The Government are relaxing the rules on cannabis and, in my view, are heading for decriminalisation, which is also favoured by the Liberal Democrats, who support the Bill. It is therefore unlikely that tobacco would be banned if it were discovered today.
I do not know. Let us not get into an argument about cannabis and its dangers. The truth of the matter is that we have to take life as we find it.
At the moment, the ban on tobacco sales to children under 16 is not working because high taxation is driving up smuggling. Twenty-one per cent. of all tobacco sales in this country are illicit, and many are sales to children.
The Government claim that the Bill will result in a 2.5 per cent. reduction in consumption. To be fair to them, the estimates fluctuate between nil and 5 per cent. Earlier today, the figure of 7 per cent. was mentioned. There have been many studies into the effects of legislation of this sort, and in my judgment none is conclusive.
The Smee report was not conclusive. The evidence was incomplete and it was a report of limited scope. There was no proper analysis of the market. It reported a study that found that advertising had no statistical significant effect. In 1993, as I said in an intervention, the author was reported as saying that the report
"made no estimate for the UK" of the effect of a ban.
The second report, to which the Secretary of State referred in his opening remarks, was that of the World Bank, entitled "Curbing the Epidemic". The report stated that the most effective way of curbing tobacco consumption was through managed price controls. As my hon. Friend Dr. Fox said in his excellent introductory speech, the multi-prong strategy is the most effective. The World Bank report was based on other reports by the same authors, who found that although public health advocates assert that tobacco advertising increases cigarette consumption, there is significant empirical literature that finds little or no effect of tobacco advertising on smokers. That is from the author of the report on which the Secretary of State is relying.
The KPMG report found that in Norway, Iceland, Italy and Finland the trends were not affected by the tobacco advertising ban. Contrary to what has been said, the trend in Norway and Italy, despite bans, remains upwards.
In the UK, in the 25 years up to 1997, consumption fell by 37 per cent. That reduction was based on a voluntary code, which worked. It was better than the compulsory codes that were introduced by many other countries. However, since 1997, consumption has risen. That is because of the increase in prices and the growth in smuggling.
Will the Bill make a difference? Will it reduce smoking among children and teenagers? In its report of 1990, the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys set out a detailed analysis of the characteristics of what makes children smoke. The first characteristic was gender. Women and girls are more likely to smoke than boys. If they have brothers and sisters who smoke, they are more likely to smoke. If they have parents who smoke, they are more likely to smoke. If they are the children of single parents, they are more likely to smoke. Children who leave school earlier than others are more likely to smoke. Those who have less negative vibes about smoking are more likely to smoke.
Given that evidence, I am not necessarily persuaded that advertisements cause people to take up smoking. I recognise that there are some studies that state that they do. However, the tobacco industry says that it is going for brand marketing. It is fighting for its market share. If there is no brand marketing, the UK will see a flood of cheap imports from eastern Europe. I would rather have our low-tar branded products than the camel dung that is likely to come into the UK.
Does the hon. Gentleman think that tobacco is the only product throughout the world that is advertised not to increase consumption?
As the Irishman said, "If I were trying to get to there, I would not be starting from here."
There is huge consumption of tobacco throughout the globe. We are debating whether an advertising ban will have an effect on that consumption. Such is the momentum of the tobacco industry round the globe that I do not think that such a ban will make a difference. What is more, I maintain that there is little or no evidence to support the contention.
In a review of all the studies that have been carried out, Colin MacDonald states that there is no evidence in any of the studies to suggest that if advertising were banned, it would make the least difference to the propensity of children to smoke. Of course, stopping children smoking is an aim; it is an objective. It is illegal for children under the age of 16 to smoke. We should be targeting an attempt to limit such children's access to tobacco sales. I would warmly support the requirement that anyone wishing to buy tobacco should be able to prove that he or she is aged 16 or older. We can marry when 16. We can have sexual relations when 16. We should be able to decide whether we are a fit person to smoke cigarettes at the age of 16.
There is rising consumption of tobacco. There are rising sales. Taxes have risen by 5 per cent. above the retail price index over the past five years. During that period, the Government have tried to change behaviour, and a morality tax has not worked.
To introduce the ban that is proposed is a breach of human rights. It is not illegal to manufacture or import tobacco products. It is not illegal to sell such products. It is not illegal to buy and smoke tobacco products. I choose not to smoke, and that is my right. It is a free country and we live in a free society. However, I believe that a tolerant society should respect minority interests.
We are faced with an unprecedented ban. I know that ASH will say that there are other precedents, but there are weaknesses underlying the arguments for them. We are discussing a ban on something that is a legal activity. It is a breach of commercial freedom. It is a breach also of the ability of markets to function. That is the reason why my hon. and learned Friend Mr. Garnier dwelt at length on the EU standstill. It requires a standstill so that it can consider the proposals to ensure that we have a functioning market.
The Bill offends the principle of freedom of speech and reduces personal liberty. It does nothing to help the citizen make his own choice, and nothing to educate the citizen. The Bill is a paternalistic intervention in a personal lifestyle. It claims to protect others and it assumes that others are incapable of making their own choices. I suspect that that is the difference between the two sides of the House.
Last week, I went to the funeral of a dear friend of mine, Veronica. None of us knew that she had cancer. We all knew that she smoked. It was obviously an emotional day for me and everyone else who was there. For every 1,000 20-year-old smokers, six will die from motor accidents and 250 will die in middle age from smoking. Another 250 will die later in life. I will do anything and support anything that can help us cut the killer that we are debating, and that is what we must do.
I welcome the Bill, but deplore the fact that it was not enacted before the general election. It is deplorable also that the Opposition are opposing it this evening. Sixty per cent. of people say that there should be a total ban on advertising, including half of all smokers. I did not receive any answer from Dr. Fox, who was really struggling, while speaking from the Opposition Front Bench. He could not explain what individual liberty was being removed by the Bill. I do not think that my friend Veronica would have felt that her freedom was being taken away by a ban on the right of cigarette manufacturers to persuade her earlier in her life to smoke. She would not have thought that that was a ban on her freedom.
On Thursday, I visited Loscoe primary school in my constituency. I went because it had won an achievement award for getting good results as a consequence of its hard work. I did not realise that, as part of Derbyshire's health promoting schools scheme, it had brought in a poet to help the school to write poetry about smoking. Young Ashley Mellors put the effects of smoking as clearly and briefly as one can. His poem read:
The school is producing some posters for a local company in the constituency of the Secretary of State for Defence, my right hon. Friend Mr. Hoon, a neighbouring constituency. The posters will be made in the factory to try to persuade its workers not to smoke.
A six-year-old girl spoke to me and said, "I'm trying to get my daddy to give up. My mummy's also trying to get him to give up, and he won't." A similar sentiment was expressed by someone slightly older, in the Amber Valley secondary schools year 7 project, who has been desperately trying to throw away his daddy's cigarettes to try to stop him smoking. He said, "I'm very angry. My grandad died last week from smoking."
This is very emotive, but it raises an interesting question. We all agree that we should try to get people to give up smoking. Younger children are antagonistic to smoking, so what happens in the next few years, or even just a year later, that can make those same children take up smoking? I have relatives and friends who were vehemently anti-smoking early on, but took it up later. The question is how that happens.
I was pleased with the support of Sir George Young for the Bill, but disappointed that he thought that the money going to the health service was not going towards public health. One of the big improvements in my area has come from the Amber Valley primary care trust, which has put a great deal of effort into smoking cessation. On Thursday night I went to a smoking cessation clinic in Amber Valley. The group was in the third week of the programme. Members of the group had given up for a week and were recounting all their strategies for making sure that they kept on giving up. I was pleased that most of them agreed to have their photo taken at the end. I thought that it must mean that they were really committed if they were prepared to put themselves on the line in a photo.
One couple there had started smoking at the ages of 12 and 13. She was pregnant. They started when they were a year or two older than the second boy whom I mentioned, and just a few years older than that six-year-old girl. How did that happen? We would save a huge amount of money for the health service if we stopped pregnant women smoking. How much better if we did not have to put in the effort to get them to give up later by stopping them earlier.
What happens to those younger children? That is the dilemma. We know that there has been a big increase in the proportion of 11 to 15-year-olds who smoke. For girls it is even more marked. In 1988, one in five 15-year-olds smoked. Now the figure is one in three. The Amber Valley smoking cessation clinics have had an impressive success rate: from what we know, about 65 per cent. of participants continue to have given up smoking. However, we will not stop youngsters experimenting with tobacco. How will we stop that developing into a habit? How do we prevent them from going through the agony of giving up smoking?
I got a clue when I looked into the secondary school project in my area, which I mentioned earlier. In a theatrical-type exercise, the children are encouraged to think about what makes them smoke. As in "Big Brother", they can go into a video booth and have a private video conversation after the group session and say what they think. A boy in year 7 spoke about why he was getting involved in smoking. Children clearly know intellectually that it is not cool to smoke, but they still feel that it is. In the truth booth he said that he had not smoked and that he thought that it was dangerous and stupid. Then he paused for some time and said, "But I do think I'll smoke when I'm older and I don't know why." He seemed to have gone into his own thought world and he continued, "Yes. It's been bugging me, that."
That boy is in a state of vulnerability and confusion which make him susceptible to advertising campaigns. That is when advertising can add to the problem and perhaps make him take up smoking. He thinks that he will, but he does not know why. In the secondary school project, the children set out a range of factors that might lead them to want to take up smoking. Many of those related to peer pressure, family pressure, the image of smoking as cool and attractive, and the desire to lose weight. Many of those factors can be influenced by advertising. I am not saying that that is the only influence, but it is a potentially important one.
I am not suggesting that putting all our effort into controlling advertising will work, but an industry would not spend all that money on advertising if it did not have an effect. The brands that are advertised the most are those that are smoked the most, especially by children. It could be argued that that proves what the tobacco companies claim—that their advertising is designed simply to make people switch brands, not to entice new groups into smoking. However, one has only to read the string of quotations from tobacco companies to know that that is nonsense, and that for decades they have exerted deliberate pressure on young people to take up smoking. The quotes are endless. For example, one states:
"Evidence is now available to indicate that the 14-to-18-year-old group is an increasing segment of the smoking population. RJR must soon establish a successful new brand in this market if our position in the industry is to be maintained over the long term."
That was written in 1976, and there have been quotes ever since from all the companies that show that they deliberately targeted young people. That is where their market is, as has been pointed out by a number of speakers.
Surely it is disingenuous for anyone to argue that advertising does not entice young people into smoking. Of course it does. That is simple common sense. Does the hon. Lady agree that it would be irresponsible for parents to encourage their child to smoke? Does it not follow that all parents should welcome any measure that the House can take to help them stop their children smoking?
I entirely agree. As we know, one of the major factors in whether people smoke is whether their parents smoke. I was lucky. For some reason, the people with whom I went round in my teens did not smoke very much. My mother did not smoke; my father did. He smoked a pipe most of the time and gave it up when he had his first stroke. Because I did not have the family pressure or the peer pressure, I probably was not as vulnerable to the advertising images that feed into those factors.
I agree that if the parents did not smoke, the children would be less likely to do so. If the parents discourage smoking, that may help, but there are other pressures on children that present smoking as fashionable and as something that they ought to try. The pressures on young people are maintained, despite what their parents say.
I do not want to overstay my time, but there is plenty of evidence of very young children's awareness of brands and of the tobacco companies' advertising. The Camel cartoon character is better known by four to six-year-olds in America than Mickey Mouse. It seems extraordinary, but that is what the evidence shows. We know that young children are susceptible, and that advertising can make a difference.
There are various studies of the effect of advertising but, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State pointed out, the overwhelming majority of surveys show that there is a substantial relationship with advertising. Seventy per cent. of smokers want to give it up. Surely we should help them not to get into that awful addiction in the first place and do everything that we can to stop it. We all have friends and relatives who have suffered from that terrible disease.
I have many constituents who are former miners, who have been struggling to get compensation for lung diseases. We get them their compensation, then it is dramatically reduced because of the liability arising from the fact that they have been smokers most of their lives. For members of that generation, it was normal to smoke. It would have been surprising if they had not smoked. For goodness' sake, let us do anything that we can which will help at all, even if not in a massive way, to stop the next generation of young people experiencing the same problems as people of our generation and previous generations. Let us support the Bill and try to stop that happening.
I should like to begin by declaring an interest similar to the one mentioned by my hon. and learned Friend Mr. Garnier, as I am a member of the Lords and Commons pipe and cigar smokers club, which is supported by hon. Members on both sides of the House. I have also accepted hospitality from the Tobacco Manufacturers Association, as declared in the Register of Members' Interests. Unlike my hon. and learned Friend, however, I was not invited to write an article for The Guardian on that subject.
I agreed with a considerable amount of what Judy Mallaber said about why young people take up smoking. She had some very intelligent ideas about that, but she concluded by saying that young people could be influenced by advertising. That gets to the nub of what the Opposition are talking about. We do not believe—at least, I do not believe—that it is right to take away an important liberty on the basis of evidence as inconclusive as that which she gave about how people can be influenced.
I say to the House that it is very easy to nod a Bill through Parliament to ban an activity that is considered antisocial by many hon. Members. Indeed, that has often happened under the current Government, who like to interfere in people's lifestyles. However, once a freedom or liberty is taken away, it is extremely hard to get it back. That is why it is essential that the House examine in detail any move to restrict personal liberty and freedom. That is what we should be doing, and we should not be blinded by the prejudice and dislike that so many Labour Members have shown in this debate.
Will the hon. Gentleman tell me— I have not yet had an answer to this question—which individual liberty is removed by the Bill, as opposed to the liberty of the tobacco manufacturers to influence the individual? Which individual liberty does the Bill take away?
The answer is simple and is summed up by freedom of speech. If the hon. Lady wants a better example, she might look at article 10 of the European convention on human rights, which states:
"Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers".
That is what the Bill proposes to limit.
Perhaps I can help the hon. Gentleman out. Is he referring to the individual liberty of tobacco manufacturers?
Tobacco manufacturers have precisely the same right to individual liberty as anyone else, including the hon. Gentleman and me. The Bill does indeed interfere with a legitimate business activity: the advertising and promotion of a lawfully available product. In that sense, it is an extremely serious measure. However, it also interferes with my right to receive information that tobacco companies might want to send me and with my right to privacy in my correspondence. My right hon. Friend Sir George Young spoke about legislation on motor cycle helmets and safety belts. Certainly, I can see that that legislation was necessary and ultimately sensible, but it interfered with personal liberty far less than this Bill seeks to do.
I should like to ask the hon. Gentleman the same question as I asked the Conservative spokesman. Although I disagree with him on this issue, I agree with him and other Conservatives about people's right to go about their business with regard to foxhunting, for example. Can he explain his position on restricting the liberties of consenting adults on what they do in the bedroom, where no harm is caused? He could advance his arguments with far greater conviction if he at least recognised their inconsistency, or preferably spoke more consistently.
I welcome the hon. Gentleman's support for foxhunting. I hope that he will join me in the Lobby when the time comes. As a matter of interest, I say to him that what people do in their bedrooms is of no concern to me. If I am considered to be on the libertarian wing of my party, I am pleased about that; indeed, it explains why I object to the Bill.
There is a mystery about the Bill, as it was not announced in the Queen's Speech. A Bill of considerable significance in terms of the freedom of individuals has come to the House as a private Member's Bill promoted by a Liberal peer in the House of Lords. If the Government had wanted such a measure, they should have stated their aims and objectives in the Queen's Speech and introduced their own Bill, so we could have followed all the procedures in this House. When we had dealt with it, it could then have passed through the public Bill process in the House of Lords, and not been dealt with as a private Member's Bill on a Friday.
It would have been much more honest for the Government to have taken that approach. Of course, they had no intention of introducing such a Bill, but were suddenly put under pressure—perhaps in order to fulfil one of the manifesto promises that they made in 1997 but would rather have forgotten—as they realise that such a Bill could upset 15 million smokers in this country.
My hon. Friend Bob Spink asked why people advertised. The answer is that tobacco consumption in this country is declining. It increased recently, for reasons that I shall mention later, but it has fallen considerably overall since 1971. The companies therefore need to advertise in order to maintain a share of a diminishing market. That is what drives them, not a desire to increase the market.
Surely the market is not declining among young people. It should be our aim to stop young people taking up smoking, which is what advertising encourages them to do.
I agree that the recent problem is the increase in the number of young people who smoke. The increase in other parts of society, such as among manual workers and those on lower incomes, has also been referred to. Much of that increase, which was mentioned by my hon. Friend Richard Ottaway and others, relates to the smuggling of tobacco.
Mr. Barron said how well the Government had done in controlling and reducing the amount of cigarettes smuggled into this country, but that is patent nonsense. Of course the number of confiscated cigarettes has increased, but that is because the country is being swamped—I hope hon. Members will forgive me for using that word—by an ever increasing amount of illegal tobacco. It is not being brought into the country by white van man at Dover, but is transported in containers through major ports. If people want to know whether the Government have been successful in their prosecution of smugglers, they should consider the price of cigarettes on the streets, which is about £2, whereas previously it was slightly more, at £2.50, which suggests that suppliers of bootleg cigarettes are plentiful. That probably explains to some extent why young people are smoking. They have to pay, not more than £4 a pack, but £2 or £2.50, which only encourages them to smoke.
The House will clearly nod the Bill through, but by doing so, it will do a considerable disservice to the freedom of individuals—not only tobacco companies, but all of us. If we continue with the measure, we will be failing as a Parliament to stand up for individual freedoms and rights. That is why I shall support the reasoned amendment.
I welcome the Bill. I spoke on Second Reading of the Bill that was introduced in January 2001, and nothing that I have heard or seen since has persuaded me that the comments that I made in that debate were anything but correct.
Many contributions have been made. I found incredible the logic that Dr. Fox used in trying to adopt some sort of philosophical rationale for opposing the Bill. It is odd that he seems to find it acceptable to introduce legislation designed to prevent tobacconists and retailers from selling tobacco products to children under 16, but also to support tobacco manufacturers' advertising that is designed to seduce such children into buying cigarettes and tobacco products illegally. We must be aware that the evidence that has been given by a number of speakers on the basis of documents produced by the tobacco manufacturers themselves makes it clear beyond all doubt that the manufacturers promote their advertising in a way that is designed to get young children who are under 16 to buy tobacco products.
Many statistics have been cited. Some 330 people a day are killed by cigarettes. That in itself does not convey the wider damage done by cigarette smoking—the reduced quality of life that people suffer as a result. One has only to hear the hacking coughs on the trains in the morning. Those people are trapped in a nicotine hell, and they want to get out. In addition, there is the suffering of people who do not smoke cigarettes, and have never wanted to, but are trapped in enclosed spaces with those who do. That has done great damage, and continues to do so. Asthma has increased, and the whole range of health statistics clearly demonstrates that respiratory illnesses are increasing as a result of active and passive tobacco smoking.
There has been much dispute about the number of deaths that the Bill will prevent, but even under the fairly low estimate given by the Government—I think that they deliberately pitched it low, at 2.5 per cent.—3,000 more deaths a year will be prevented. Bodies such as the World Health Organisation have produced estimates of 7 per cent., which would more than double that number. It has been estimated that in my local authority of Sandwell, 672 people a year die as a result of smoking, so 2.5 per cent. would represent only 17 people. However, if I were to stand here and oppose a measure that would prevent the deaths of 17 people in my local borough, I would rightly be heavily criticised. I cannot understand the logic of Conservative Members who are doing just that, given that people in their constituencies will live longer as a consequence of the Bill.
I am following the hon. Gentleman's arguments closely. He will be aware of a report published in 1996 which surveyed four countries that had introduced an advertising ban, two of which subsequently experienced an increase in smoking. How does he account for that?
The Smee report, which detailed death rates after advertising bans had been introduced in Norway, Finland, France and New Zealand, clearly demonstrates that the Bill will be very effective as part and parcel of a package of measures. I welcome it as part of the Government's anti-smoking drive and have every confidence that it will be effective. I could mention one or two other measures that should have been included in the Bill, but I shall try to take a disciplined approach to the debate.
A local smoking cessation policy in my area has weaned about 1,000 people off smoking for a year. My local health authority estimates that the cost of so doing was £700 per person. By contrast, the cost of clinical intervention to deal with people who are trying to give up smoking or suffering the consequences averages £17,000 per person. So the taxpayer pays either £700 to wean someone off smoking in the first place or an average of £17,000 when they have reached such a state that clinical intervention is required. Such policies not only enhance the lives of individuals but save money for the taxpayer.
Bob Spink said clearly and decisively, in contradiction of the Conservative Front-Bench spokesman, that advertising pays and that tobacco companies would not spend money on advertising if it were not effective. My personal experience of rearing a stepson, and seeing his and his friends' attitudes to smoking, suggests that advertising is a very effective way of weaning people who were opposed to smoking when younger on to smoking once they are older, and who find that the social pressures on them to do so are so overwhelming that they are compelled to conform to them.
My hon. Friend Judy Mallaber gave an eloquent and informative discourse on those pressures. My son and his friends were completely opposed to smoking when they played in football and rugby teams as young lads. Then, when they got a bit older, they became part of wider social circle and gradually succumbed to the seductive lure of the odd cigarette. Some of them are now addicted—they have entered that tobacco-lined death row that cigarette manufacturers offer everybody.
Young people succumb because it seems to be cool behaviour. It is an easy way to appear to be an adult among their peers that requires no great sophisticated skills—all they need do is succumb to the proffered cigarette. If they become addicted, they will reckon that they probably have 30 years before having to face the consequences. Eighteen-year-olds tend to feel indestructible, and the threat of cancer in 30 years' time seems a far distant penalty for something that enables them to be cool and acceptable.
I approve the measures in the Bill to end sports sponsorship. I have always thought it ironic that sportsmen—icons who are looked upon by many teenagers as the epitome of fit athletes—can find themselves willingly or unwillingly having to promote a product that is intrinsically unhealthy and damaging compared with the sports in which they participate. Hon. Members have talked about freedom. The Bill will enhance athletes' freedom to avoid becoming involved in that situation. The measures are especially welcome in relation to Formula 1 racing. There is no doubt that young lads see motor racing as a glamorous and cool sport, and its association with cigarettes and tobacco is highly effective in promoting the acceptance of smoking among that group.
I welcome the Bill above all for doing something that I did not at first appreciate, but have gradually become more aware of. It is another step towards making smoking non-normal and non-acceptable. Sometimes I go into public buildings and see people disregarding "no smoking" signs with total impunity. If one protests or asks the management to do something about it, one is almost made out to be in the wrong, yet all one is doing is upholding the regulations of that place, which make it acceptable to everyone else. Tobacco advertising billboards convey the impression that smoking is a normal part of life. It is, for 28 per cent. of the public, but most people do not want it to be. Even some of those who make up that percentage do not want to smoke. By banning adverts, we remove an element of the social geography that conveys that smoking is normal.
The Bill alone will not be hugely successful. [Laughter.] It will make an impact on the 17 people in my borough who will live as a result of it. For them, it will be profoundly successful. Conservative Members laugh, but the measure will prove important for families who will not have to watch their loved ones die a painful, unpleasant death from smoking. It ill behoves hon. Members to make mocking and cynical comments.
The statistical difference that the measure will make is marginal but significant. It is part and parcel of a process that will make smoking less acceptable and thereby gradually transform people's social habits. We hope that it will change people's quality of life and health and also benefit the Exchequer. I therefore support its Second Reading.
We in the SNP and Plaid Cymru warmly welcome Second Reading. We agree with the Government's contention that if the Bill is adopted, it will significantly reduce smoking-related disease, illness and death. We have long argued for a rigorous tobacco advertising ban that covers everything including billboards, the internet, brand-stretching and sports sponsorship. However, for it to be successful, it must work in tandem with a general anti-smoking policy. Although we are relatively satisfied with the progress that the Government have made since "Smoking Kills", we remain worried about the levelling off of the number of people who stop smoking and the increase in smoking among young women and girls, which several other hon. Members have mentioned.
Like other hon. Members, we have examined the experience of other countries, especially those where partial bans or voluntary agreements exist. We remain disappointed by the rate of the fall in tobacco consumption there because we found that tobacco companies simply switch from banned media to non-banned media. We prefer the examples that the Secretary of State and other hon. Members gave of Finland, Norway, Canada and France where there is a total, all-encompassing ban, which has led to a fall in consumption of between 15 per cent. and 34 per cent. We therefore encourage the Government to continue to be rigorous and to introduce an all-encompassing ban.
The Bill must be perceived as a process, not a one-off event. There is no doubt that tobacco advertisers will try to challenge the measure and push it to its limits. They are in an industry that loses a significant amount of consumers every day through a smoking-related illness, or a combination of them, and they therefore do all that they can to find new recruits. We must remain vigilant and if necessary re-examine the measure.
I pay tribute to Lord Clement-Jones for persevering with his Bill in the other place. We should also be generous and congratulate Nicola Sturgeon and her colleagues in the Scottish Parliament on promoting a similar Bill.
Before the hon. Gentleman goes off on the normal SNP trip, does he accept that the House of Commons is the place to legislate for United Kingdom bans, and that we must focus on Europe to gain the strength of the European Union behind any measure to change people's view of smoking? It is a waste of the Scottish Parliament's time to deal with a subject that is not devolved.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for that intervention, with which I agree. Of course, a UK-wide, and indeed, a Europe-wide ban would be more effective. Nicola Sturgeon promoted her private Member's Bill when the Government appeared to be prevaricating on the issue, and there was no mention of it in the Queen's Speech. Perhaps that was impatience on our part and the Government always intended to introduce the Bill. However, I contend that we would not be debating Second Reading if it were not for the efforts of people such as Lord Clement-Jones and Nicola Sturgeon and her colleagues in the Scottish Parliament. Although we have withdrawn that Bill in the Scottish Parliament, it remains on the table in case the Government prevaricate again, or Conservative Members have their way, which is unlikely.
Having such a Bill considered in the Scottish Parliament has given us a clear picture of the state of smoking in Scotland, which has an especially atrocious record on incidence and smoking-related disease and illness. We were shown the role that advertising plays in that.
In Scotland, more than 1 million people smoke—almost a third of the adult population. A Scottish health survey showed that 13,000 people a year die through smoking. In Glasgow, 37.5 per cent. of people smoke. That proportion rises to approximately 50 per cent. in areas of poverty and social deprivation. In Scotland, our tobacco problems may be more acute because of the high levels of poverty and social deprivation, especially in west-central Scotland. In disadvantaged communities, smoking can be a majority, and hence a sociable activity.
It is therefore perhaps unsurprising that, despite the Chancellor's best efforts to try to tax cigarettes and put them beyond the easy reach of our poorer communities, tobacco remains a protected and necessary purchase even in times of financial hardship. That is a major dilemma for the tobacco industry. On the one hand, its product is expensive. If it were reintroduced, it would probably be classified as a luxury item. On the other hand, the core market—the people to whom it needs to sell cigarettes—is made up of the poor and the socially deprived.
The industry has come up with many ingenious ways in which to deal with that problem. It uses all manner of cheap gimmicks to try to ensure that there is no embarrassment about buying cheaper products. In the written media, premium brands are inevitably advertised in broadsheets and style magazines, while cheaper cigarettes are always advertised in the tabloids.
Tobacco advertisers specifically target the most socially deprived.
As I said to Mr. Atkinson, if he was right, the tobacco industry must be the only one that would try to advertise without trying to increase consumption. That is unfeasible.
Perhaps I can assist the hon. Gentleman. People keep dying and they have to be replaced only to mark time. Mr. Brady is therefore right in his way, but so is the hon. Gentleman. People are dying and the tobacco advertisers have to get the young to take their place.
I fully agree with the hon. Gentleman. The tobacco industry needs a massive recruitment programme to make up for the natural wastage that occurs through smoking-related diseases.
The tobacco industry targets the socially deprived and the poor. The excellent "Keep Smiling; No One's Going to Die" survey examined documents from five of the agencies that have advertising accounts with tobacco companies. It found an appalling cynicism and many attempts to flout the rules. It also discovered that the industry had no great concern for the health and well-being of its consumers or potential consumers. It was worried only about minimising health concerns. Regulation was there to be challenged. It found that the poor could be reached by all manner of gimmicks and cheap promotions and making sure that people were comfortable with cheaper brands. That fits with the general aims of tobacco advertisers.
The aims of tobacco advertising are threefold: first, the recruitment of young smokers; secondly, rallying the troops to encourage adult smokers to ignore the health risks of tobacco and continue to smoke; thirdly, encouraging people who have already quit smoking to lapse. Perhaps the last point is the most cynical because people who stop smoking at any point can gain significant health benefits.
However, hon. Members on both sides of the argument are worried about young people. I believe that they are more vulnerable to the pernicious advertising of the tobacco industry. I was interested in the comments of Judy Mallaber, who remains in her place.
It is easy to persuade a 10-year-old not to smoke. Young children can be pious about smoking. My 10-year-old son will recoil at the thought of someone lighting up and quote chapter and verse about why it is not good for you. It is quite easy to convince someone in their early 20s not to smoke. Life experience dictates that it does not make much sense to take up something that will clearly curtail one's life and might lead to any number of diseases. It is a lot more difficult to convince teenagers not to smoke. That is the target group that concerns me most. I worked voluntarily with a national agency that tried to promote healthy lifestyles among young people. We always found that "healthy" had to vie with "cool", and that there was inevitably tension among young people between what adult society said was good for them and youthful experimentation.
Almost all new smokers begin before their 18th birthday. The literature shows that young people's smoking behaviour is linked with their awareness, and that they pay significantly more attention to tobacco advertising. The tobacco industry knows that. It also knows that if it does not get its new recruits before they reach their early 20s, it will not get them at all. Young people are also confused by the mixed messages from adult society, which can appear hypocritical. They are told not to smoke, and that smoking may eventually kill them, yet there are adverts everywhere, as though tobacco were some benign domestic product.
Several hon. Members have talked about their own experiences, and their relationship with the dreaded weed. I shall briefly mention mine. I started smoking as a teenager. I played in rock bands for 20-odd years and smoking was what people did. I wanted to emulate my heroes, as did all my peers. Sometimes role models do not behave like model citizens. Sometimes they do not do what we want them to do, and a celebrity with a fag in his or her hand is worth more than a thousand billboard adverts to the tobacco industry.
On that point, does the hon. Gentleman agree that we are fighting a continuous battle for the hearts and minds of young people? The fact that this country spends £13 million on health promotion in relation to tobacco while the industry spends £130 million helping to flog it shows the tenfold discrepancy between the efforts that we are making in public health and the efforts that the industry is making to sell its product.
The hon. Gentleman makes a good point. A similar analogy has been drawn using another example, which is that it is like putting a baby in to fight Mike Tyson. We just do not stand a chance when we try to put the message across. We are always going to be at a disadvantage, when we consider the amounts of money that the tobacco industry has available.
If there is one aspect of the Bill with which I am disappointed, it relates to celebrities and promotion. I would like the Bill to have more to do with product placement, especially in films and dramas. The regulations could also be tightened up for television, where celebrities and personalities can appear willy-nilly in normal television programmes smoking cigarettes or freely and frankly discussing their tobacco use. Overall, however, I support the Government on this measure. This is a very good Bill and it will go some way to reducing the amount of smoking-related diseases and deaths.
By this time of night, it is quite difficult to say anything that other speakers have not already said. I pay tribute to the many Labour Members who have explained, more eloquently than I could, why it is important that this Bill should be on the statute book. I, too, reckon that it is an important Bill. I have detected some confusion, however, from the official Opposition—I call them that so that Liberal Democrat and SNP colleagues do not think that I am including them—as to whether the Bill is important. Mr. Atkinson said that it was important, but that we were just going to nod it through tonight. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is a great deal of passion about the importance of the Bill on this side of the House. I was astonished to hear that Dr. Fox thought that the Bill was a diversion, and more than one Conservative speaker has linked it to the hunting Bill, suggesting that both were somehow unimportant and a waste of the House's time. I find that incredible.
I can understand that some Conservative Members who are well-known smokers would not have received the kind of lobbying and information that I did. The Bill was not originally in the Queen's Speech. Almost every cancer charity and organisation working in the field of public health has written to us in the most graphic terms, giving the most detailed arguments as to why this is a very important piece of legislation. They reckon that it will save 3,000 lives each year in Britain—300 in Scotland—and that an additional 830 people a year in Scotland will not be admitted to hospital if the measure becomes law.
As I said, I can believe that some Conservative Back-Benchers who are well-known smokers would not have been sent that information. I cannot, however, believe that the Opposition spokesman on health, the hon. Member for Woodspring, was not deluged with the same information that I and other Labour Members were sent. For him to have ignored it is irresponsible and a real disappointment. I had always thought better of him, and I have to agree with some of my hon. Friends who suggested that he was struggling to make his points. In fact, I do not think that he necessarily believed many of the points that he made.
The hon. Gentleman's argument seemed to rest on the premise that, because banning advertising would not stop everybody smoking, it was not a valuable thing to do. Of course, if tobacco advertising were banned tomorrow, everyone would not stop smoking. I would love it if they did, but that is not going to happen. There is no doubt, however, that if we ban tobacco advertising, we shall take away the oxygen of publicity—and respectability—from the tobacco manufacturers.
We are sending out a clear message to young people that society does not think that tobacco can be advertised in the way that other household products are. It is a dangerous product; it kills people, and the advertising of it should be banned. I have to say that I would probably ban smoking as well, but that proposal is not before the House tonight. Perhaps my attitude to that is rather more Stalinist than that of some other hon. Members.
This measure has to be part of the wider endeavour by the Government and—I accept—the Opposition to ensure that people cut their tobacco consumption. During his speech, I intervened on the hon. Member for Woodspring to ask him a question about tobacco smuggling. He seemed to suggest that the prevalence of smoking in young girls had gone up because of an increase in tobacco smuggling, which made tobacco more cheaply available. Perhaps people are encouraged to smoke more when tobacco is cheaper. I was very specific in my question to the hon. Gentleman, asking whether he was referring only to younger teenage girls of 13, 14 or 15 years old. If that group is taking up smoking at a far greater rate than any other group, it cannot be only because the incidence of smuggling has gone up.
Before I was elected to this place, I was a secondary school teacher. One of my great concerns at the time—this was long before the Labour Government came into power—was that that specific group of young teenage girls was being sucked into taking up smoking for the first time. As a lot of Members have said, once people start smoking it is difficult to give up. In fact, the best way to stop is not to start in the first place. As Pete Wishart and, very poignantly, my hon. Friend Judy Mallaber said, advertising does its wicked best when youngsters are most vulnerable, encouraging young girls in particular to take up smoking.
Why do young girls start? There are a number of myths going round as to what smoking can do. Young girls believe that they will lose weight—perhaps their appetite will be suppressed, so they will eat less—but that is based on a fallacy. The other big fallacy among the young girls I taught was their belief that smoking reduces stress. They did not always believe me when I explained that they were feeling stress because they smoked; they had withdrawal symptoms because the substance is very addictive. Had they not started smoking, they would not have been under that stress at all.
Young girls are often vulnerable when they go into their first set of exams; my niece is taking her standard grade exams next week. At that stage, 15-year-old girls take up smoking—an image is created by smoking, advertising and product placement involving models, and they are susceptible to taking on and believing those messages.
Of course, young girls also think that smoking is cool. I pay tribute to the Health Education Board for Scotland advertisements, which have been effective in encouraging young teenage girls not to take up smoking. A song plays over the group of young girls who are trying to chase the boys—it says, "Why do you keep running from me, boy?"—but the girls cannot keep up because smoking has left them with no breath. Those advertisements have turned on its head the image of the cool, sexy smoker who attracts the boys. In fact, smoking often drives them away.
A number of Members have said that the tobacco industry spends 10 times more on promotion than the Government spend on preventing tobacco use. Conservative Members say that they want an informed choice, but how can that choice be informed when 10 times more is spent on promoting tobacco through advertising than is spent by either the Government agencies or the other agencies working on smoking cessation?
I pay tribute to the Bill's prohibition of free distribution, which has not been mentioned. I was horrified to discover that a tobacco company gave away cigarettes during a recent freshers' week at a local university. That was outrageous, and I am glad that such promotion is to be outlawed.
I hope that Nicola Sturgeon introduced her Bill to the Scottish Parliament for the best of reasons, but I suspect that political expediency may have been involved, as nothing would be dafter than banning tobacco advertising in Scotland without banning it in England and Wales. How on earth could we prevent glossy magazines carrying tobacco advertising from being sold in Scottish newsagents? That Bill was nonsensical, but I am glad that the Scottish National party is supporting the Government tonight, and quite right too.
A ban on tobacco advertising is not the whole story, but it is an important step that will help those who want to give up this evil habit. I encourage all Members to support the Bill.
It might well do; that is in the register. More interestingly, I was a heavy smoker—up to 30 fags a day for 13 years—but I quit because of the damage that I know smoking does to the liver as opposed to just the lungs. My uncle, prior to his death, was a heavy smoker and a non-occasional drinker; people cannot be both. Being the son of a wine merchant, I thought it wise to do my bit to repay my father's generosity, so I decided to give up smoking a few years ago. I do not have the zealotry of the convert, however, even though the subject is extremely emotive. I was impressed by the strong emotions displayed by Mr. Barron.
I looked at all the information before the debate, and a number of figures have been bandied around. In particular, I received a briefing note from ASH, which means Action on Smoking and Health. At first glance, it makes strong arguments for the Bill, especially with reference to low-cost and effective health measures. Closer reading, however, reveals a number of hoary old chestnuts. Apparently, banning advertising would stop children being encouraged to smoke; it would persuade smokers to quit; where advertising bans have been introduced, they have led to a fall in consumption. The Government have said that, in their view, a ban would reduce consumption by 2.5 per cent., and that the voluntary restrictions have failed.
I am sorry to say that I am not sure we can trust the well-intentioned but poorly presented information provided by organisations such as ASH. ASH says that advertising encourages children to smoke, but a tough voluntary agreement has existed for some years, and it was peer pressure rather than the much flashier ads of the 1970s that forced me to take up smoking. I was allowed to smoke in the sixth form, for instance. I smoked Gauloises. I had a Saturday job, I could afford to buy cigarettes, and I got fed up with handing them out to others. Interestingly, they did not want to smoke Gauloises, and consequently I was the one who did not have to hand out the cigarettes.
We took up smoking to cock a snook at authority. Getting rid of advertising will not make the slightest difference in that regard. The smuggling of cheap cigarettes is more likely to make kids continue to smoke.
The hon. Gentleman may have been a heavy smoker, smoking 30 a day. I used to smoke 80 a day. If there is a risk that advertising will create just one smoker, would it not be useful to ban it in order to save that one life?
As I have said, ASH thinks that advertising encourages children to smoke. The cigarette advertising companies have said that they will not advertise to those children—[Interruption.] Let me put it another way. A voluntary agreement has been reached by Ministers. Why have they repeatedly refused to listen to the advertising companies and the tobacco manufacturers when they have approached them since 1997 asking them to toughen up their own voluntary restrictions?
I worked in the advertising industry. Can the hon. Gentleman explain how an advertisement can be produced that appeals to those over 18 and not to those under 18?
I do not know why the hon. Gentleman is concentrating on the age of 18. As was said earlier, at the age of 16 it is possible to marry—to choose the person with whom you will live for the rest of your life. Should it not be possible for people to decide voluntarily at that age whether to smoke?
Labour Members often quote statistics, but one fact we have not heard is that it is possible to smoke until the age of 30, then give up and suffer no long-term health consequences. [Interruption.] Labour Members may not agree with that; I do not agree with the facts and figures that they have bandied about.
ASH says that where advertising has been banned, consumption has fallen. In Italy, it has continued to rise during the 20 years following a ban. In Norway, it has increased in line with the pre-ban trend. The situation in Canada is interesting. Between 1989 and 1995, when the supreme court kicked the ban out, consumption remained steady, just as it had been before. In this country, where there has been a voluntary agreement, consumption has declined faster than it has in any other country I know of.
Does the hon. Gentleman's argument allow for the possibility that the pattern of consumption, whether it rises or falls, is a complex issue affected by many factors, and that the presence or absence of an advertising ban may reduce the rate of increase in consumption where it might otherwise have been greater, or increase the rate of reduction where it might otherwise have been less? Does the hon. Gentleman accept that several factors may be involved? According to evidence from reviews, an advertising ban would be at least a contributing factor.
Considering the time left to me and the fact that my hon. Friends and others wish to speak, perhaps we could continue that discussion elsewhere, probably over a cigar.
The adoption of Lord Clement-Jones's Bill reinforces the view of where the Government and, I am afraid, some of my hon. Friends are coming from. Individuals are never grown up enough in the eyes of some to be able to look after themselves. I find it unfortunate that the Bill will lead to increased censorship, enhance red tape and restrict freedom to make one's own decisions. It will not reduce smuggling, lessen smoking by children or lower total consumption.
I am delighted to participate in the debate. Like many Conservative Members, I wish to register my own interest: when I was younger than 16, I was a smoker. To this day, I have never admitted it to my family. [Interruption.] I expect that they are not listening and watching this evening. My mother and father would not be very happy.
I have no idea why I took up smoking. I think it had more to do with the music that I listened to and the image I wished to identify with. I caught the tail end of the punk era. I was keen on ska music. As part of that overall image, smoking was de rigueur. I then became a new romantic. Smoking did not go with pastel pinks or pastel yellows. I took up smoking as a teenager and ended smoking while still a teenager. It was to do with my warped sense of fashion at that time.
We have rightly heard that smoking kills 120,000 people a year in this country. Everyone has tried to break the figure down, but to give it some relevance, during this debate, 80 people have died from smoking or a smoking-related illness in this country. To an extent, that puts the figure into perspective.
There has been a debate across the House about the role of advertising. I may be wrong, but I do not believe that the primary role of advertising tobacco products is to maintain existing smokers as smokers. Advertising does no harm in terms of maintaining them as smokers, but I do not think that the primary role of advertising is to keep smokers smoking or to increase their level of smoking. I believe that the primary role of advertising is to grow a new generation of smokers. My hon. Friend John Robertson and others have said why: the tobacco industry kills 120,000 people a year. The role of any market is to find new customers. It kills 120,000 customers; it has to create some more. Advertising performs that role simply to feed the conveyor belt of addiction.
Mr. Flook made a number of points based on voodoo health. In response to his point about tough self-regulatory measures, like everyone, I hope, in the debate, I took time to read the self-regulatory measures that have been signed up to. I quote from those:
"Advertisements should never suggest that smoking is safe, healthy, natural, necessary for relaxation or concentration, or popular."
Almost every advert that I have seen conjures up images of at least three of those. I have never seen an advert that has said, "Smoking this cigarette is dangerous, deadly, unnatural and antisocial." Not once have I seen an advert for a cigarette or tobacco product that describes what the product is or what it does to the person. Instead, advertising tries to tap into the vain, desperate desire for fashion, trends and coolness.
I am delighted that the Bill will ban cigarette coupons. People may say that smoking is a human frailty and human weakness, but I grew up in an environment where grown adults collected cigarette coupons in the same way that children collect football stickers. It was an encouragement to smoke more and collect more, at the end of which not only would the person's health be poorer but they had six cheap whisky glasses in return for product loyalty.
In response to the points made by the hon. Members for Croydon, South (Richard Ottaway) and for Hexham (Mr. Atkinson), I am absolutely amazed by the cavalier attitude of the majority—but not all—of Conservative Members, who broadly divide into two categories. Some pursue reckless opposition for opposition's sake. Their bold rallying call is that they oppose the Bill because it might not work. They say that we should not do anything because it might not work, while proposing no alternative whatever. The others are more dangerous, ideological and libertarian. They think that the Bill is a fundamental curtailment of a basic adult freedom of choice that should not be limited in any circumstances. Taking that to its logical conclusion—and I do not support this—the Government should legalise all the drugs that are currently illegal. I am not aware that that is official Conservative party policy.
This ideological bunch of Conservatives talk about individual liberty. What individual liberty is being sacrificed by someone not having to read cigarette advertisements every time they open a fashion magazine or a newspaper? What basic human right is curtailed by that? It is not a basic human right to be forced to read cigarette adverts, and even if it was, I would happily sacrifice it to save the life of just one of the 80 smokers who will die during this debate.
The Tories are not representing the views of the people: the majority favour a ban. They are not even representing the views of smokers, 80 per cent. of whom would love to give up because they are hooked and they realise the damage that it is doing to them and their families. I do not want to be uncharitable, but most Conservative Members are not even representing their own constituents. Sadly, all too many are merely representing the vested interests of the tobacco industry.
My hon. Friend David Taylor talked about the internet. We must be extremely careful about that. The audience for tobacco advertising on the internet is clearly a lower age group and the advertisers would like to penetrate that market. Unlike my hon. Friend, I am delighted that clause 7 undertakes to keep pace with technological changes. I hope that the companies concerned, the web designers and the internet service providers will note that. Clause 3 speaks about anyone in the chain, from commissioning to selling, being guilty of an offence. Clearly, internet companies would be included.
We all accept that an advertising ban on its own will not solve the problem. Personally, I would favour compulsory licensing for any establishment that sells tobacco products. The licence would be revoked if there was proof of any sale of cigarettes to under-16s. Perhaps the Bill could be a little firmer in its provisions concerning the set-up of shops and the display of cigarettes so close to confectionery, where young people will be looking. I would like cigarettes to be further from the cash till, although there may be security issues, because their siting there encourages impulse buying.
I would like to see the supposed celebrities of this country break their silence on cigarettes and tobacco. For too long it has been perceived to be cool and acceptable to smoke and take other drugs. Until celebrities, be they actors or other entertainers such as singers or musicians—those whom the younger people in this nation respect—say loudly and clearly that it is not fashionable, desirable or cool to get involved in that deadly habit, we will face an uphill struggle.
I hope that it will be part of the overall package surrounding the Bill, and other health improvement measures, that the Government will be able to enter into a dialogue with all stakeholders and other interested parties to ensure that celebrities break what, for the vast majority of them, has been a shameful silence on this matter.
As membership of the Lords and Commons pipe and cigar smokers club is a declarable non-pecuniary interest, I emphasise the fact that I am an enthusiastic member. In view of the lack of time, I must inevitably be selective, so what I say may be a little disjointed.
My first point is addressed to the Minister, and it relates to the amendment that appears on the Order Paper in the name of three Conservative Members, including me. I ask her for clarification. During its proceedings in the other place, the Government insisted that the Bill was not notifiable under the technical standards and regulations directive of 1998. The Conservative Opposition emphasised the fact that they had a different opinion, but that was disregarded. However, on
My understanding of article 8 of the directive is that there must be a standstill period of three months from the date of notification. I tried to understand what would happen—indeed, I asked my hon. and learned Friend Mr. Garnier, but even he was not quite able to answer with authority. According to the schedule, the Bill must complete its course through Committee within weeks—certainly well within three months. However, article 8 states that the measure to be adopted must remain amendable for the three-month period. How do the Government reconcile article 8 with their programme for the Bill?
My next point is a general one, and I make it in answer to the argument put sincerely and eloquently by the many Labour Members who expressed incredulity that there could still be some of us on the Conservative Benches who opposed the Bill as a matter of principle. I put myself in that category, and I wish to explain to hon. Members that I do so because their arguments fail to convince. If they will bear with me for a few moments, I shall point to some of the "paragraph headings", as it were—things that I would say more about if I had a little more time to explain my position.
With some reluctance, I shall first make a somewhat personal point: I do not need any lessons about the horrors of cancer. This year my wife has had two operations for cancer, and she is currently embarking on her second course of chemotherapy. I would not wish that experience on anyone. My wife's cancer is unrelated to smoking, but we all know that smoking causes cancer, and if I were really convinced that banning advertising would irrefutably and demonstrably result in a decrease in smoking, I would not hold the position that I do.
In my view, this Bill, although well intentioned, is misguided and unnecessary. I have done my reading, and I do not believe that there is any conclusive, irrefutable evidence linking a ban on tobacco advertising with a decrease in tobacco consumption.
The Bill is also unnecessary because the previous Government found a formula for decreasing smoking that worked. Goodness knows how many studies have considered whether tobacco advertising affects consumption, and whether the tobacco market has been affected by the introduction of an advertising ban. Indeed, there have been studies reviewing those studies. Is not the essential point that all those studies are inconclusive? None has reached a conclusion that has not been contradicted by another; nor am I aware of any study that has attempted to predict, rather than to analyse after the event, the consequences of an advertising ban.
The considerable emphasis placed on the Smee report during the debate exemplifies the problem that we face. We approach such reports selectively. Labour Members have selected those statements from Smee that suggest that an advertising ban would be effective, but that is not the whole story. I am sure that, like me, they have read the report, so they will know that a central feature of Smee is that it is a somewhat superficial review of other studies. As Smee himself acknowledges in the report, its use of evidence is selective. Interestingly, it is precisely because some people imposed on the report an interpretation that suited their preconceived conclusions that Smee went public post-publication. He felt obliged to say that people were overlooking the fact that conflicting evidence exists, and that the report makes no estimate of the impact on the United Kingdom of an advertising ban.
We should look more closely at the experiences of other countries. According to my reading, the truth of those experiences is that they provide no evidence that a ban on tobacco advertising reduces consumption. In some countries, the introduction of a ban has been followed by a reduction in consumption, but in others it has been followed by an increase. In fact, a closer inspection reveals that, although a ban has in some cases accentuated an existing trend, in others it has had a different impact. The instances of Italy and Norway come to mind. In both cases, consumption increased after the introduction of a ban.
Labour Members choose the Smee report as their text of almost divine authority, but a KPMG report of 1996 paints a very different picture. The point is that the various reports offer no conclusive evidence; for every conclusion reached, a different one can be found in a different report. However, what I find most unacceptable and unpersuasive about the argument of Labour Members is the way in which they skate over the reality of what happened in this country between 1971 and 1996. As they know, the first agreement was reached in 1971. For the next 25 years, we had one of the best records in the world for reduction of tobacco consumption.
Labour Members fail to convince in their condemnation of the voluntary agreement, which demonstrably worked. Over that period, total consumption in this country fell by 37 per cent. and the prevalence of smoking by 40 per cent.
Since 1996, a new factor has entered the equation—the extraordinary increase in smuggled tobacco products. I know that the Government are, somewhat belatedly, trying to come to terms with that problem. Measures are being taken and credit must be given for that, but the increase in smoking, especially among young people, is significantly due not to advertising but to the fact that those smuggled products have been entering the country.
The Government have not made the case for the Bill. We have had a voluntary code of tobacco advertising and, while that was in place, tobacco consumption decreased dramatically. The Government dictate the terms of that voluntary agreement, as the Minister will know. She will also know that her predecessors and other Ministers have declined to discuss with the tobacco industry whether the voluntary agreement should be tightened. I remain firmly convinced that the way forward is not through legislation, but through pursuing the proven, successful course—a mixture of policies of education and voluntary agreement—that led to a decrease in tobacco consumption in this country. I support very strongly the reasoned amendment, because the Government have not made their case.
I shall be very brief, because I know that some of my hon. Friends are keen to speak in this debate. Mr. Hunter is right to say that we can use statistics in any way we wish, and we all garner the arguments that support our point of view. The reality is that the evidence firmly shows that a ban would have the positive effect of reducing smoking habits. However, I shall put that to one side, because one piece of evidence proves that preventing the advertising and promotion of smoking will reduce it: the tobacco industry actively opposes the Bill. The industry knows what effect it will have and understands that it will affect trade. Even if we leave aside all the statistics, we should keep that thought in mind.
I shall not use statistics; instead, I shall use one of the most powerful arguments in favour of the Bill. It is not just about reducing an irritation or interfering with the rights of others—as Opposition Members seem to suggest. Smoking is an addiction that kills 120,000 people a year. We are not talking about stopping the advertisement of Kellogg's Cornflakes because we do not want people to over-eat them. No, we are talking about something that is a disaster for our community in many ways.
I was a nurse in the NHS for 25 years and I had to care for people suffering from the effects of smoking. I was sad to hear from the hon. Member for Basingstoke about his wife, and I hope that she is making a good recovery, but out of the 120,000 who die every year only 46,500 suffer from cancer. There are many more nasty ways to die from smoking-related diseases, most of which—sad to say—I have witnessed. It is for those people that I wish to make this argument.
As a nurse, my hon. Friend will have witnessed much. I share her concern, and am sorry for the tragedy that has blighted the life of Mr. Hunter and that of his good lady.
My mother passed away six weeks ago today. She started smoking as a teenager, and continued for 56 years. It was not cancer that took her, but the tragedy of emphysema—her lungs were shot through. I support the Bill because if we can save one individual or one family from going through that tragedy, we should do so.
I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. In the middle of all the intellectual debate about civil liberties, it is easy to forget why we are here today. It is for my hon. Friend's mother that we are here debating this important Bill. I have sat with people who are gasping their last and need oxygen when, unbelievably, they say, "Please take me to the day room so that I can have a cigarette." What informed choice is there for them? Where are their civil liberties when they know that they are addicted to something that is killing them? We need to be realistic about the real effects that smoking has on people.
I have sat with people whose circulation has died in their legs and who have had to have awful amputations. I make no apology for mentioning these matters, because we can forget that that is the result of smoking. That is where it leads many people. That is why the House is right in attempting to reduce the number of people who will take up smoking.
This is a difficult issue. The Government are assisting people to stop smoking in other ways, including the use of drugs and cessation classes. We have heard many examples this evening, and they are superb. However, we must not mix the message for young people. We tell them in school that smoking is dreadful, yet they walk out of school and see fabulous advertisements for smoking. I admit that I do not understand half of them—I am obviously far too old. We must not allow that to happen; the House must do everything that it can to reduce that effect.
Similarly, despite the message about having safe sex to avoid the risk of HIV, some people still do not have safe sex. We must not let people think that smoking is glamorous either.
I have seen the effects of smoking and the way in which people die, and it is not good. I firmly believe that the arguments of those who oppose the Bill tonight will be discredited. In 20 years' time, Members will be asking how anybody could try to prevent a ban on advertising. The Bill will be an important part of a programme to stop people from dying of smoking-related diseases.
It is a great pleasure to follow Laura Moffatt. She, like me, has spent a great part of her professional life treating the end stages of tobacco usage.
Dr. Harris said that Sir Richard Doll's longevity was due to being a lifelong non-smoker. The House of Commons Library tells us otherwise. Sir Richard was, in fact, a 20-a-day man until his research pointed him in the right direction and he gave it up. He said earlier this month that it is never too late to give up. He said:
"At 30 the risk is almost totally eliminated and at 50 to 60 you can live a more enjoyable life as well as a longer one. My message is, stop smoking, enjoy life more and enjoy more of it."
Amen to that.
I spent the best part of two decades treating customers of the tobacco industry. Like the majority of my medical colleagues, I have invested heavily of my time and of taxpayers' money in advising people to stop smoking. Many right hon. and hon. Members were palpably delighted by recent spending commitments in the Budget, but our enthusiasm should be tempered by the limited evidence for a link between the number of doctors and nurses and life expectancy, as much as it pains me to say so. In contrast, a direct link between mortality and tobacco consumption is undisputed.
Logically, we might reasonably expect an Administration who are serious about improving the health of the nation to focus on the latter. Yet the Government's record on addressing tobacco consumption has not been particularly edifying. Bernie Ecclestone's donation to the Labour party was linked to its compliant handling of tobacco sponsorship of Formula 1, and the Bill failed in the last Parliament because the Government did not give it sufficient priority. The initiative this time has come from the other place.
European Union directives on tobacco have been drafted and annulled, and we have seen the EU attempt to extend its remit to public health via a circuitous route on the ground of regulating commerce. The whole thing has been tawdry and cynical. My hon. Friend Dr. Fox was right to underline the scandal of EU tobacco subsidies, and withdrawing those would have a far greater impact on tobacco consumption worldwide than the Bill.
Opposition to the Bill would sit uneasily with previous highly effective public health measures, such as the compulsory wearing of seat belts, many of which restrict freedom more immediately and directly. No one could be more opposed to the Gout's stealthy introduction of the nanny state than me, and there is little doubt that this measure will assist in that remorseless process. However, the British Medical Association and the Cancer Research Campaign tell us that the voluntary code has not worked but merely spawned a cunning new arsenal of sophisticated marketing techniques. If someone has supported a voluntary code and finds subsequently that advantage has been taken of one's good nature, that person is entitled to consider more assertive action.
One in two long-term smokers will die prematurely as a result of smoking and half of them will die in middle age. In terms of public health, smoking is truly the captain of the men of death. The sheer scale of the devastation caused by smoking means that I am prepared to lower the threshold of proof that I would ordinarily expect in assessing the likely impact of an intervention, whether medical or legislative.
This sector is full of interest groups with amusing and imaginative acronyms. Both ASH and FOREST have used human rights legislation to support their position, which just goes to show how fertile the arena of human rights is for lawyers. FOREST, in its March edition of the imaginatively styled "Burning Issues", considers that the European convention on human rights justifies tobacco advertisements because it protects the freedom
"to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority."
The defence of advertisements on the ground that they provide information is, frankly, a little thin. Very few would see tobacco adverts as an important vehicle in the exchange of ideas. Furthermore, the literal interpretation offered by FOREST would logically lead us to permit the unrestricted advertisement of a whole raft of potentially harmful products, from pharmaceuticals to firearms.
Meanwhile, ASH takes a more considered approach, arguing that the fact that tobacco is legal does not confer unlimited freedom on its purveyors. It cites the Human Rights Act 1998, which states:
"The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of the protection of health".
Given the extent of the damage done by tobacco, we are entitled to ask that the burden of proof be allowed to rest with the industry. It must show that bans are not effective and that their adverts are aimed purely at building brand loyalty. The contrary argument that there is no evidence that banning adverts will be effective is frankly counter-intuitive and gives evidence-based decision making a bad name.
The brand loyalty argument would be more convincing if each manufacturer produced a single brand. I imagine that many people still think that that is the case. The truth was brought home to me in the early 1980s during a medical school tour of the Wills tobacco factory, then in Bristol. Several brands were produced side by side, and the only difference between them was the proportion of leaf sucked up from one hopper or another which went to make this brand or that. What was really important was the label and marketing subsequently attached to each brand. Given the relatively small number of firms peddling the myriad brands that exist, it seems unlikely that they would play one brand off against another.
Of course, what distinguishes one brand from another is the spin put on them during marketing. One packet suggests that the consumer can be a Marlboro cowboy, and another makes him into Lawrence of Arabia. The industry casts its net wide, and in so doing it increases the size of the market, not just the way in which it is apportioned. All the while, the folk who are drawn in are the young, the impressionable and the impoverished—the very groups on whom the lion's share of our public health effort should surely be focused.
The Smee report of 1992, among others, provided compelling evidence that tobacco advertising increases smoking overall. This is not the place to enter into a detailed appraisal of the criticisms, notably by the Henley Marketing Group and the Institute of Economic Affairs, which were subsequently levelled at Smee. Suffice it to say that many of them were semantic. Any study of this sort will have its detractors, and it would be extraordinary, given the highly charged nature of the field, if the Smee report were not controversial.
The Opposition, while supporting the aim of reducing deaths from tobacco, have proposed a reasoned amendment, and their position is fair and honourable. Indeed, we must admit that a ban on advertising might actually increase the level of tobacco consumption as consumers are deprived of the attendant health warnings. This was suggested by Stewart in his investigation of OECD countries, but sadly his study failed to attain statistical significance.
Nevertheless, given the element of doubt, a sunset clause may be a prudent compromise. Indeed, with other hon. Members I recently argued for such a thing in Committee and in the House in respect of the Football (Disorder) (Amendment) Bill. We did so because we felt that although action was needed, the evidence base was insufficiently robust to legislate without qualification given the swingeing restriction of individual liberty that the Bill would introduce. In this case the restriction on individual liberty does not apply in the same way and the evidence base is much more compelling.
A sunset clause that anticipates proof or otherwise of the effectiveness of intended legislation at some future date supposes such a dramatic effect that it could be teased out from the veritable soup of variables that impact on tobacco consumption. The Government have estimated a 2.5 per cent. reduction and the saving of 3,000 lives a year, and the World Bank more than doubles those figures. If that were to happen, no doubt we could say with a high degree of confidence that the measure we are debating today was the cause of the improvement and we would all be delighted. But it could be that a smaller, if important, number of lives are saved, and that would make a sunset clause appraisal much more difficult.
The Secretary of State said that the Bill forms the core of his strategy for addressing smoking. I hope that that is not the case because I feel that it will not have a big impact on tobacco consumption in this country, but I hope that it will help a little. I am grateful to my right hon. Friend Sir George Young for giving me some top cover, and I am happy to follow his lead tonight.
This has been a very good debate, often heated but very informative. It has been characterised by an enormous number of confessions from ex-smokers, nearly all on the Back Benches.
Perhaps none was more shocking than the virgin confession from Mr. Murphy, who had not admitted to his parents that he had smoked at an early age. It was nearly as shocking as his confession that he was also a new romantic in his youth. He established a link between smoking and alcoholism by saying that the tokens that he kept from the cigarette packets that he bought went towards cheap whisky glasses. We had confessions too from my hon. Friend Mr. Flook, whom we always suspected of having been a teenage smoker. In his case, he said, he was cocking a snook at authority.
The debate has been characterised by a sense of deja vu because the Bill has been round the block several times, both in this House and in another place, where it was fully debated. The only difference now is that, after the general election, the Government appeared to lack the courage of their convictions and had to be forced into this measure by Lord Clement-Jones.
I remind the right hon. Members for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) and for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron), who accused the Opposition of wrecking the measure, that the general election was called a year early. With a majority of more than 170, it was entirely in the Government's power to get the Bill passed if they had been fully committed to it. I may differ from my right hon. Friend Sir George Young about the emphasis of the argument, but he put it succinctly when he said that it is a strange set of priorities to include in the Queen's Speech the Hunting Bill, but not something that Government Members keep telling us is an important measure. It is rich for the Secretary of State to begin his speech by claiming that the Government are now delivering on their election promise—five years late, I must add.
The measure was thoroughly debated in the House of Lords. Debate covered whether the minutiae of sniffing should be included in clause 1 and the relative safety of passive snuff sniffing. Members also queried whether they would be able to wear a tee-shirt with the logo, "I love to kiss men who smoke cigarettes" without falling foul of a prosecution for promoting smoking.
Like their lordships' debate, ours has been characterised by detailed contributions on the perils of smoking and its implications for our health. We heard moving contributions from Judy Mallaber, Laura Moffatt, who spoke about her experiences as a nurse, and Mr. Bailey, who discussed statistics relevant to his own constituency. However, he let the cat out of the bag when he ended by saying that the measure would not be hugely successful in attacking smoking.
As a confirmed non-smoker who has battled constantly but unsuccessfully with a father who has been addicted to the foul weed for the past 50 years or so, I share many of the concerns that have been expressed and agree that smoking is a foul pursuit, both for the person engaged in the activity and people in the vicinity forced to share the smoker's air space. Both sides of the House are agreed on that, but the Bill has nothing to do with banning smoking altogether or outlawing tobacco. Some say that if the Government, let alone the Liberal Democrats, are to be consistent, they should go the whole hog and ban tobacco products altogether, but that is an extremely regressive anti-libertarian step that I and, I am sure, most of my hon. Friends would not support.
In the Bill, we are dealing with whether it is helpful or legitimate to ban the advertising and promotion of tobacco products, and the extent and definition of such a ban. The most important aspects of the debate are whether the Bill will effectively lead to a reduction in tobacco consumption, especially among minors; whether a ban could have the reverse effect of giving rise to increased consumption because manufacturers would turn to other marketing measures such as price sensitivity to compensate for the absence of advertising; and whether the Bill will make no difference at all, in which case we may ask why we are spending valuable parliamentary time on it when other legislation is being squeezed out.
I therefore approach the Bill with a genuinely open mind, albeit with an in-built libertarian scepticism towards yet more legislation which threatens to swamp our citizens with yet more regiments of state-registered nannies peering into our cigarette packets, our newsagents, our magazines and our post, and censoring our advertising hoardings. Such a measure has been introduced by a Government keen to tell people what not to do, rather than liberate people from yet more regulations—a point well made by my hon. Friends the Members for Croydon, South (Richard Ottaway) and for Hexham (Mr. Atkinson). If we can prove beyond reasonable doubt that the Bill will lead to a net reduction in the number of smokers, especially teenagers, and a reduction in overall consumption, it will merit our support. However, no such incontrovertible evidence has been produced.
Evidence such as the Smee report in 1992 or "Curbing the Epidemic" in 1998 is inconclusive, gives rise to many questions and can be matched by other reports with contrary conclusions. It should not be forgotten that in the four countries that have banned tobacco advertising outright in the past 30 years—Finland, Sweden, Norway and Holland—the per capita consumption of cigarettes is higher in all cases than in the United Kingdom, which can boast a 37 per cent. fall in tobacco consumption and a 40 per cent. fall in smoking prevalence. David Taylor gave the example of Finland, but consumption there since tobacco advertising was banned in 1978 has fallen to 59.1 per cent compared with the UK, where it is down to 57.2 per cent. In Norway, it has gone the other way since the ban in 1975. It has increased from 91.7 per capita to 114.5. The record in the UK is hardly bettered anywhere in the world. That is the result of voluntary agreements and regulation between Government and the tobacco industry, rather than of blanket banning of advertising and promotion.
Of course, we all want consumption further to decrease. That is why the Opposition support a reasoned amendment that challenges the absence of clear and sound evidence on which to base the Bill, which concentrates exclusively on using the untested club of an outright ban while other more pressing measures to reduce tobacco smuggling are completely ignored.
Last year, the Government cut the resources that they spend on campaigning against smoking. The advertising budget was cut from £8.97 million to £7.79 million, at a time when the Government's total advertising bill increased enormously, and on causes rather less beneficial to the public interest.
In the unlikely event that the House is unswayed by the forceful arguments of those on the Opposition Front Bench and my right hon. and hon. Friends, we shall seek in Committee to add a sunset clause to the Bill if the measures so trumpeted by Labour Members turn out to be more of an article of faith than a tangible improvement in outcomes. Unlike the right hon. Member for Rother Valley, I hope to see more sunset clauses in legislation, especially when we deal with the untried and the unscientifically proven.
Many questions are outstanding. We shall table detailed amendments in Committee so that we can scrutinise the supposed evidence on which the Government base their claims. My hon. and learned Friend Mr. Garnier—
If the right hon. Gentleman does not mind, I shall make some progress.
The Government refused to address the EU notification issue. They may well find themselves in a mess.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hexham raised the important issue of brand awareness, which was not touched upon by Labour Members.
As I said in my speech, nine years ago the then Deputy Prime Minister, the then right hon. Member for Henley, Mr. Heseltine, favoured a total ban on tobacco advertising. Does the hon. Gentleman think that Mr. Heseltine was as wrong as he thinks Labour Members are today?
One member of a Government does not constitute a complete refutation of the points that we have been making. Labour Members know that they will not have 100 per cent. support of some of their measures. The right hon. Gentleman should know that, given the experience of the Government over the past five years, during which more than one Member has actively voted against many of their measures.
The greatest fear is that if advertising is banned, the recourse of tobacco manufacturing companies will be to compete on price, starting with savings of £130 million from their advertising budgets. Tobacco companies will not pack up and go home if we enact the Bill. It is clear from the Government's research that pricing has a significant correlation with consumption.
It is right to tax as a deterrent, and it is a legitimate way of raising revenue. It is well documented that that continued through the 1990s until the tolerance threshold was reached. That coincided with the abolition of duty free and the opening up of the single market to alcohol and tobacco products. Despite all the warnings, however, the Government have been largely complacent about that. The explosion in smuggling since 1997 has led to an increase in total consumption of cigarettes and hand-rolled tobacco of more than 5 per cent. It is estimated that 22 per cent. of all cigarettes and 70 per cent. of hand-rolled tobacco are smuggled.
Increasingly, these products end up being flogged from car boots outside school playgrounds to those whom we are most trying to deter from smoking, from completely unregulated car boot sales or from pubs, contrary to the statements made by Miss Begg, who thinks that they are not frequented by teenage girls.
After all the progress that was made up to 1997, we have seen a reversal of more than 5 per cent. in combating smoking. However, the Government predict that the Bill will result in a 2.5 per cent. reduction in smoking. There is no evidence for that. We know that it is an arbitrary figure. The Smee report anticipated—the point was made by my hon. Friend Mr. Hunter—a net fall in consumption of between zero and 5 per cent. The Bill is just as likely to have zero impact as it to cause a 5 per cent. fall. That was admitted in the regulatory impact assessment in the explanatory notes to the Bill.
Price cutting is a major concern, but there are also implications for the ability to convey health information about less harmful brands of cigarettes. All tobacco products are harmful, but for the confirmed and irrecoverable smoker, like my father, lower tar cigarettes are better than higher tar. In the future other innovations will no doubt come about which will lessen, though not eradicate, the effects of smoking, but there will be no way that those can be marketed without breaking the law.
I am all for making the warnings of the hazards of smoking bigger, bolder and more grotesque. Let us have hoardings, paid for by the tobacco companies, with the words "Smoking makes you die a slow and lingering death" occupying three quarters of the entire poster, and the obscure lacerated purple silk design that is the advertisement relegated to a corner. Let us swamp cigarette packets with skull and crossbones and photographs of cancerous lungs. After all, the £130 million that the industry spends compares with the sum of less than £8 million spent by the Government on smoking cessation.
The Government have made no attempt since 1997 to engage in dialogue with the industry about tightening further the terms of the voluntary agreement, be it on the terms of reference of advertisements and their location, the nicotine content or additional measures to clamp down on under-age sales. I would have sympathy with any such measure. Instead, we have a blanket proposal to ban advertising and promotion which leaves many questions unanswered and more pressing issues unaddressed.
I was impressed with the mention by Pete Wishart of the role of product placement and the fact that celebrities with fags in their hand are worth a thousand billboards.
Many questions have not been resolved. What have the Government achieved since the international summit on smoking in July 1997? What action is being taken to end the absurd situation whereby the EU tobacco scheme spends £600 million on subsidising tobacco production, more than three quarters of which is produced in Italy and Greece, with the latter presumably protected by the Greek legal system threatening a three-year jail sentence for anyone in an anorak and brandishing a camera caught within 100 yds of a tobacco field?
Exactly what proportion of smuggled cigarettes is intercepted by Customs, and how many real criminals have been prosecuted? What progress has been achieved by the tobacco taskforce in helping sports find alternative sources of revenue, and why has it not met since October 1999?
Those are all important considerations that are not addressed by the Bill. What we need are effective measures that will not just talk the talk about reducing tobacco prevalence among young people, but walk the walk and encourage a comprehensive mix of measures to tackle the problem at its roots. The Bill is a limited attempt at that. The Government have failed to produce a convincing evidence-based approach. Nothing would delight me more than proper comprehensive measures that would really reduce cigarette take-up and make the job of tobacco companies more difficult, but the Bill is not one.
Yet again, the Government have opted for a soft target and come up with another gimmick which, like the latest onslaught on parents of young hooligans, may look good for the headlines for a few days ahead of elections, but does little to address the underlying problem. We in the Opposition are not so easily taken in and I urge hon. Members to vote for the reasoned amendment.
We have had a largely thoughtful debate on an important issue. In the end it is about saving lives, and we should not forget that. Many of those who spoke today have worked hard for many years on smoking-related issues, including my right hon. Friend Mr. Dobson, who gave a powerful account of the strategy of the tobacco industry for many years. I pay tribute to his work on the White Paper "Smoking Kills" and on launching the Government's strategy on smoking.
My right hon. Friend Mr. Barron set out the impact of tobacco advertising on children and argued that it is inconceivable that advertising aimed at 18-year-olds would not affect 14-year-olds as well. My hon. Friend Mr. Hinchliffe spoke about 50 years of evidence. I pay tribute to the work of his Committee in expanding and adding to that body of evidence, particularly on the intentions of the industry with regard to advertising.
I welcome the speech by Sir George Young. I wish that he had been successful in his attempts to ban tobacco advertising 20 years ago. It might have saved all of us an awful lot of time, as well as saving lives in the meantime.
My hon. Friend David Taylor spoke about smoking and pregnancy. My hon. Friend Judy Mallaber spoke about the attitudes of children and young people in her constituency. My hon. Friend Mr. Bailey referred to the impact of smoking on asthma. My hon. Friend Miss Begg said that we should take away the oxygen of publicity from smoking. Pete Wishart referred to deaths in Scotland. My hon. Friend Mr. Murphy spoke of the importance of protecting the freedom of children and young people.
Dr. Fox gave an apparently philosophical speech on the nature of liberty, but with respect, it was really a smokescreen and he avoided many of the important issues relating to why his party is choosing to ignore the strong views of the medical profession. I shall return in a moment to many of the points that he made.
I thank the Minister for giving way. May I put it to her that she is living in a slightly surreal world? The real problem with tobacco smoking is smuggling. Three years ago, one in seven cigarettes were smuggled. Today, the figure is nearer one in five, yet the Government go on pushing up duty year in, year out, as they have done in the Budget. That will merely encourage more and more smuggling.
If the hon. Gentleman cared about smuggling, he might have been present to discuss it during the debate. Frankly, the smuggling issue is a red herring. This is not an either/or question. Of course, we should have both action on smuggling and action to prevent tobacco advertising.
The hon. Members for Croydon, South (Richard Ottaway) and for Hexham (Mr. Atkinson) protested about freedom. Mr. Flook claimed that the voluntary code was tough—I wish. Tim Loughton gave a long list of red herrings, including an example involving a photographer in Greece.
Dr. Harris supported the Bill, which is good, but I have to say that his remarks about smoking were probably the most whingey that I have heard for ages in response to a policy with which somebody agrees, even a Liberal Democrat. Faced with a Government who are for the first time in history providing smoking cessation, nicotine replacement therapy and Zyban on the NHS, way ahead of most other countries, in what has been a massive change over the past five years, what is his response? It is to complain that we introduced the policy in health action zones. Yes, and we were right to do so, because those are the areas where people are on the lowest incomes and smoking prevalence is highest. We have now extended that smoking cessation approach across the country, but it was right to introduce it in health action zones first.
I must tell the Minister that I do not feel chastened by her remarks, because they still reflect some complacency on an issue that she understands is very important. Although the Government have done well, they could have done more by making the therapies available throughout the country to all smokers, not just in a few selected areas.
Yes, which is why nicotine replacement therapy and Zyban are available on prescription for people across the NHS—and it is right that they should be.
Many Opposition Members seemed to suggest that smoking prevalence had increased in the past few years, whether because of smuggling or something else. That is simply not true. Smoking prevalence fell among adults from 1948 to 1994, and then stopped falling. It then increased until 1996 and has fallen again since then, to 27 per cent. Among under-16s, it increased from 1988 to 1996, from 8 to 13 per cent., and last year it was down to 10 per cent. again. Among 16 to 19-year-olds, it increased from 27 to 31 per cent. between 1992 and 1998—the very period in which the Conservatives were trumpeting their voluntary restrictions on advertising—while the latest figures for 2000 show it dropping again, to 29 per cent. Even among 15-year-old girls—many hon. Members spoke about young girls—it rose from 1988 to 1996, but has fallen since then, from 33 per cent. in 1996 to 25 per cent. last year.
It is right to say that smoking rates are still too high, but 70 per cent. of smokers say that they want to give up. We think that those rates should come down, but that is why we disagree with the Opposition's view that voluntary agreements are sufficient. We need this ad ban and we need further support for people who want to give up smoking.
As the Minister says, over a long period we achieved great reductions in tobacco consumption and smoking prevalence rates—37 per cent. and 40 per cent. respectively. Of the three strands of policy—health education, price mechanism and restriction of advertising—which contributed in what proportion to that reduction?
All three are likely to have played a role, which is why all three are important parts of the strategy. As the hon. Gentleman said, it can be difficult to separate out the impact of the different factors. That is exactly why a sunset clause is a load of rubbish and would not work. It is impossible precisely to determine the impact of individual factors on smoking rates, yet the hon. Gentleman wants to introduce a sunset clause that would reject an advertising ban if smoking rates went up, despite the fact that that could be due to one of many different factors. An advertising ban could be all that will keep rates down, but he wants to get rid of it because of the other factors involved.
My right hon. Friend made it clear that this is one part of an important strategy. The Government have done more than any Government in this country's history to provide support for smokers who want to give up, which plays a vital part in bringing smoking rates down.
Mr. Garnier tried to persuade us that he had significant legal and technical objections to the Bill—first, that it was not comprehensive enough to comply with the Human Rights Act 1998. If he can identify a loophole that we have missed, I assure him that we will strive hard to close it in Committee, to ensure that the Bill is as comprehensive as he would like.
His second concern, voiced by other hon. Members, was that the Bill is notifiable. Our view remains that it is not notifiable. We have notified it without prejudice, but that is no reason not to continue to legislate. Other countries have done that, and so shall we.
Several hon. Members mentioned the common agricultural policy regime. We strongly disapprove of tobacco subsidies—a view that is shared on both sides of the House—and we shall continue to argue against them and to oppose them whenever we have the opportunity.
Some hon. Members referred to sponsorship. The Bill sets out the policy as agreed with our European partners some years ago. We shall consult on the details in the course of the Bill's passage. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State clearly explained the position. The ban will be comprehensive: it will include billboards, coupons, sponsorship, free gifts, brand-sharing and the internet. That is as it should be.
Much of the debate has been about freedom and individual rights. I strongly believe that people have a right to smoke. The hon. Member for Woodspring talked about freedom and informed choice. People have a right to smoke, but they also have a right to choose whether to smoke. Nothing in the Bill removes people's right to smoke. We must recognise that there is no comparable legal product in terms of harm caused and addictiveness. As my hon. Friend Laura Moffatt said, the addiction factor makes debates about freedom of choice rather more complicated. People have a right to smoke, but they also have a right to the chance to give up.
Smoking is addictive. Seventy per cent. of smokers say that they want to give up, and giving up can be hard. People therefore have a right not to be pressurised by manipulative, seductive advertising into starting smoking at an impressionable age. They have a right not to be bombarded with advertisements and free gifts when they are trying to give up.
I support people's right to smoke, but I do not support the tobacco industry's right to spend £100 million of the profits it gains from addiction to promote its product and try to hook new smokers. That is what opposition to the Bill is about. It is about maintaining tobacco advertising—not to protect individuals' freedom, but to protect the right of a big corporate body to use its considerable financial muscle to promote a product that kills. The Bill will not prevent journalists from commenting on smoking and tobacco products, nor writers and artists from writing about them, but it will stop them being paid by the tobacco industry to do so.
The hon. Member for Woodspring set out the traditional, right-wing libertarian view that any action by Government is a restriction on freedom. In the real world, many people, especially children, depend on the Government to protect their rights and freedoms. In the real world, power matters: the power of the tobacco industry to use its profits to promote its product on billboard, leaflets and giveaways. That power is considerable. Set against that is the power of an impressionable 13-year-old girl, whose health and life may depend on the ban. I do not believe that we should protect tobacco advertising and the interests of the tobacco industry. That may be the Conservative view of freedom; it is not mine.
As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Government's position has been to ensure that sport has an appropriate time to make transitions and find other forms of sponsorship. We want not to hurt sport, but to ensure that we have a comprehensive ban on sponsorship and advertising.
Conservative Members have consistently opposed a ban. They did that when they were in government and when they were in Europe. They are trying to block it now. Let us be clear: the ban would have been in place this time last year if the Conservatives had not blocked it. It would have been in place if the tobacco industry had not blocked it in the European Court. We know why the industry is against the Bill; it has profits at stake.
Why is the Conservative party so determined to block the Bill? Why are Conservative Members so keen to protect the tobacco industry's interests? Evidence has often been mentioned in the debate. In his opening speech, my right hon. Friend set out much of the evidence for the links between tobacco advertising and smoking.
Before the Minister moves too far from discussion of time, will she give a commitment on when the Bill will become law? Will she assure us that it will not be delayed by the discussions of the directive that are taking place in Europe? That directive would have been introduced in 2001 if, as the Minister said, the previous Government had not blocked it.
I assure my hon. Friend that we had decided to introduce the Bill in this Parliament and not to wait for the European decisions.
It is curious that Conservative Members want to claim that the decline in smoking since 1971 is somehow due to the wonderful voluntary ban and the restrictions on advertising, while also claiming that introducing a complete ban would be ineffective. That position is inconsistent.
It is clear that tobacco advertising is targeted at young people. Brands are explicit about targeting 18 to 24-year-olds with aspirational, sexy products. British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco and Philip Morris said last September that they would keep their adverts in publications with more than 75 per cent. of adult readers and their sponsorship for events with more than 75 per cent. adults in attendance. What about the other 25 per cent.? Are they supposed to shut their eyes, turn the page and avert their gaze from the sponsoring logos? The tobacco industry claims that it is all right to expose children to tobacco advertising as long as many more adults are exposed to it at the same time.
Conservative Members argued for a sunset clause. That is purely a wrecking tactic by which no one should be convinced. It means that if smoking rates were affected by a wide range of factors, they would want to get rid of the ban and make matters worse. It is like banning BCG vaccinations because of a worldwide resurgence in tuberculosis.
We should remember what out discussions are all about. Smoking kills 120,000 people every year. The tobacco industry makes profits from products that kill. Its advertising and promotion reach not only young people but children. If the tobacco industry believed that the ban would make no impact on smoking prevalence, why is it fighting it so hard? After all, it would save £100 million from marketing budgets. Tobacco companies oppose an advertising ban because they fear that it would cut their sales and profits.
Why are the Tories so keen to back the tobacco industry? Why are they so keen to oppose a measure that health professionals support? Smoking is the biggest cause not only of preventable death but of health inequalities. Those on low incomes are far more likely to smoke. They have most to lose from continuing tobacco advertising in this country. By contrast, those who have most to gain are those who share in the profits of the tobacco industry.
There are winners and losers from a tobacco advertising ban. Let us be clear about the side on which Conservative Members have decided to stay tonight. The Opposition have set out their priorities; we have set out ours. The choice is between the interests of the tobacco industry and public health and the health of the next generation.