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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 6:30 pm on 14th February 2006.

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Photo of Caroline Flint Caroline Flint Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health) 6:30 pm, 14th February 2006

The hon. Gentleman raised points about substantially enclosed and semi-enclosed premises in Committee, and I am still considering whether some of those areas, including vehicles, should be subject to affirmative resolution. We shall hold full public consultation on all aspects of the regulations, so there will be a chance for everybody in the House and outside to make their views known.

This week, we launched a new advertising campaign to show the impact of smoking on people's lives, especially the relatives of smokers. I am grateful that Trudi and her daughters were willing to take part in our campaign. Trudi is dying from lung cancer and, with her daughters of 17 and 11, is already making plans for her funeral. It is important that we realise that smoking affects not only the individual who smokes but those who have to breathe in their smoke as well as those who suffer the devastation of losing someone because of a smoking-related illness.

The adverts are harrowing and challenging, but alongside them we have launched a series of adverts to bring to our screens examples of two ordinary people who have taken up the NHS "stop smoking" services, which have never previously been available in that form. The Government realise that the issue is not simply about restrictions in public places, but about providing our health service with funds to help people give up in difficult circumstances, because for many of them smoking is an addiction.

I am proud that since 1997 we have not only taken measures to control cigarette advertising but, for the first time, provided, through the health service, opportunities for people to give up not just once but to try again if they fail. Today, we are debating legislation that will make a huge contribution to the public health of our nation. If the Bill is successful in the other place, I look forward to working with every Member of the House to ensure that in every constituency, there will be opportunities for people to take advantage of the restrictions to make choices about changing their smoking habits that will affect not just them but everybody they work or live with and everyone they care for.

Most Members share that aim and there is no doubt that our debates over the past eight months have contributed to a huge public debate, which is good. Often, there is not much discussion in the public domain of what we do in this place, so if that is a sign of positive democracy it is to be welcomed.

However, the task does not end with passing the Bill and introducing restrictions; 95 per cent. of deaths from cancer are among people exposed to smoking in the home. The Bill is not the end of something, but the start of trying to persuade smokers to give up and to give them every possible support.

I am pleased that Members on the Opposition Front Benches have moved on the issue—[Interruption.] The Tory manifesto was against bringing in legislation, so there has been another period of reflection and consultation. It is always pleasing when the Tories chase Labour to catch up on progressive politics.