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New Clause 5 — Smoke-free premises: exemptions

Part of Orders of the Day — Health Bill – in the House of Commons at 3:50 pm on 14th February 2006.

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Photo of Patricia Hewitt Patricia Hewitt Secretary of State, Department of Health 3:50 pm, 14th February 2006

I am sure that, before we begin the debate, the whole House will join me in congratulating Mr. Cameron on the birth of his third baby. We all wish him well, both as a parent and, of course, in his efforts to give up smoking.

The Bill will ban smoking in virtually every enclosed public place and workplace in England. As the director of Action on Smoking and Health said:

"This Bill will be a big step forwards for public health. If passed into law, it will save thousands of lives every year, as vulnerable people are no longer exposed to dangerous second-hand smoke at work, and as thousands of smokers are encouraged to cut down or quit altogether."

The medical evidence is absolutely clear—smoking is the principal avoidable cause of premature death. Almost 85,000 people die every year from lung cancer, respiratory illnesses and heart disease. We have acted to deal with that scourge. We have already banned tobacco advertising, strengthened health warnings on cigarette packets and introduced NHS stop-smoking programmes, which in 2004–05 alone have helped nearly 300,000 people to give up smoking.

Yesterday, the Under-Secretary of State for Health, my hon. Friend Caroline Flint, launched our latest anti-smoking television and radio campaign. Now, with this Bill, we will ensure that from the summer of next year—18 months earlier than we originally proposed—smoke-free workplaces and public places will become the norm. Over time, we estimate that an additional 600,000 people will give up smoking as a result of this law and that millions more will be protected from second-hand smoke.