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Better than the Labour party.
I am sure that the House is pleased to see the Secretary of State here after her indisposition last week, although I think that she might have preferred to be diplomatically ill today. As I said on Second Reading, I believe that the Bill can contribute to a significant reduction in smoking. On Second Reading, the House resolved to achieve that reduction by means of a legislative ban. We did indeed debate on Second Reading and in Committee the question of whether it could be achieved on a self-regulatory basis. Of course, there is evidence of a significant increase in the number of smoke-free places that are being established without legislation being enforced, but the issue before us today is in practice not whether we should have a ban, but what its extent should be.
Let me be clear: smoking kills and it remains the largest cause of avoidable deaths in this country, and that mortality includes several thousand people each year who we believe die as a consequence of exposure to second-hand smoke. The greatest element of that problem is exposure to second-hand smoke in the home, to which the Secretary of State referred. The figures were clearly set out in November 2004 in the Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health report: there is a 24 per cent. increase in the risk of developing lung cancer for non-smoking women whose partners are smoking men; there is a 37 per cent. increase in the risk of developing lung cancer for non-smoking men whose partners are smoking women; and there is a 19 per cent. increase in the risk of developing lung cancer for those who are exposed to passive smoke in the workplace.
The risk of lung cancer is well understood; the risk of cardiovascular disease is less well understood, but arguably much more significant. The risk of developing lung cancer increases in direct proportion to the number of cigarettes smoked and the duration of smoking. Damage to the heart and arteries, however, seems to occur disproportionately at lower exposures, such as those experienced through exposure to second-hand smoke. Although passive smokers may have an uptake of tobacco smoke equivalent to only about 1 per cent. of that of an active smoker, the risk of their developing heart disease increases by 25 per cent.
Last year, a study in the British Medical Journal estimated on that basis that more than three times as many people die from ischemic heart disease as a result of passive smoking as die from lung cancer. Evidence produced in the past four or five years suggests that small amounts of exposure to second-hand smoke can lead to substantial increases in the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.