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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 5:15 pm on 14th February 2006.

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Photo of Kevin Barron Kevin Barron Chair, Health and Social Care Committee 5:15 pm, 14th February 2006

I said earlier that when the Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, my hon. Friend Mr. Woodward, made a statement on comprehensive legislation on the matter for Northern Ireland, which will be considered in the House because of the suspension of the Assembly, he said that ventilation did not work. We examined ventilation and found no evidence to support its use. An academic from the university of Wales could supply us with no evidence that air conditioning works. It might work if there is a system such as that in a hospital theatre, but opening windows and doors does not protect bar workers.

If, as I expect and hope, this proves to be a good day for Parliament, I suggest that it will also be a good day for the Select Committee system. Let me summarise what the Committee found. First, scientific evidence on the health effects of second-hand smoke is clear and overwhelming. We accept the verdict of the Government's advisers from the Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health—SCOTH—that exposure to second-hand smoke increases the risk to non-smokers of heart disease and lung cancer by about a quarter.

In most, although not all, cases, the tobacco industry continues to deny such evidence. Representatives of the industry continued to pursue that line when they gave evidence to the Committee. However, it should not be forgotten that for many years the industry denied in public that direct smoking was a cause of cancer, although its private view was very different. Indeed, action that was taken in the United States meant that it opened its archives, which gave us evidence that it knew about the consequences of direct smoking years ago, but hid those facts.