My Lords, in England in 2001, 25 per cent of women aged 16 and over smoked cigarettes regularly; that is around 5.1 million women. We have a comprehensive strategy to tackle smoking aimed at the whole population, including ending tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; education and media campaigns, and helping smokers to give up. We are aware that women are taking our messages to heart and that NHS smoking cessation services are used more by women than by men.
My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that Answer. Is he aware that the health risks of smoking to women have been found to be increasingly severe? What is being done to help young women not to take up smoking as opposed to stopping smoking?
My Lords, before answering those questions, perhaps I may say how much the Government support the theme of today's 21st National No Smoking Day for smokers "who want out". We know that more young women have set a quit date with the help of NHS stop smoking services, which have seen a very substantial increase in take-up by young women, of around 100 per cent. The Government have published their consultation paper, Choosing Health?, setting out a number of proposals and ideas to which we are asking people to respond.
My Lords, perhaps we need some especially genetically modified cigarettes for that.
My Lords, in the report, Smoking Cessation and Young People—Should we do more to help young smokers to quit?, produced by the Health Development Agency, the point is firmly made that most smoking cessation campaigns are directed at adults. What discussions has the department had with the HDA about running specifically targeted promotional campaigns directed at young people, and in particular at young females?
My Lords, the Government's current campaign, while directed at adults, also shows them the impact of smoking in relation to young children and the damage it does to them. The prevalence of smoking among children is declining, falling to 10 per cent in 2002.
My Lords, what further measures are being taken to ensure that the law preventing the sale of cigarettes to people under 16 years of age is robust? Has there been an increase in the number of prosecutions of those who sell cigarettes to children under the age of 16?
My Lords, enforcement is a matter for local agencies. I do not know the precise number of prosecutions, but I will write to my noble friend.
My Lords, it is quite possible that there is research evidence on that. I do not have it, but I will write to the noble Baroness.
My Lords, will my noble friend note that his condemnation of smoking is widely welcomed? However, it would be more persuasive if he were able to give an undertaking to come regularly to this House during European Union budget discussions in order to tell us precisely what steps are being taken by Her Majesty's Government to propose the banning of tobacco subsidies in the budget, who are their allies and what success they have achieved.
My Lords, I love to participate in all matters European. I take note of that kind invitation from my noble friend.
My Lords, we have been discussing this issue for some time in the House. I draw the noble Lord's attention to the consultation document, Choosing Health?, published last week. The Government have asked a number of questions and are awaiting the responses. Covered in those questions are matters such as: should the Government pass a law to make all enclosed workplaces and public places smoke free; what about restaurants, pubs and bars; and would local authorities be better placed than central government to introduce such laws? We want to await people's responses to that consultation paper.
My Lords, I will look into that suggestion and write to the noble Lord. As I said in answer to an earlier question, women are doing better than men in using smoking cessation services. We have seen a large increase in the number of women who have managed to quit smoking, from around 19,000 in 2001 to around 40,000 in 2002–03, as a result of those services.
My Lords, is the Minister aware that since 1997 total tobacco consumption in this country has gone up, compared with a marked decrease over the previous 25 years? Is he also aware that one in five of the cigarettes smoked in the UK is smuggled into the country? What are the Government doing to prevent contraband tobacco entering the UK?
My Lords, in 2000, the "Tackling Tobacco Smuggling" strategy was launched to reduce the flow of smuggled cigarettes. The proportion is now down to 18 per cent rather than 20 per cent. Government investment of more than £200 million has helped to fund almost 1,000 extra Customs officers, a national network of X-ray scanners and the introduction of "duty paid" marks on legitimate packets of cigarettes.
My Lords, do the Government regard nicotine impregnated chewing gum as a useful means of reducing addiction? If so, do they support its use? Will there be suitable instructions for the disposal of the gum on every packet sold?