Smokefree 2030 — [Caroline Nokes in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:56 am on 26th April 2022.

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Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East 10:56 am, 26th April 2022

I thank everyone who has contributed to the debate, including the Front Benchers, and I thank my hon. Friend the Minister for her commitment, which we all share. We have to remember, however, that Professor Sir Richard Peto has pointed out that smoking has killed nearly 8 million people over the past 50 years in the UK alone. That is 400 a day, every day—far more than have died under covid. It is obviously something that can be prevented, but more importantly even than that, 2 million more people are expected to die over the next 20 years unless we get smoking rates down.

We all support the Javed Khan review, and we are looking forward to it. I understand that it is going to be published on 17 May. I can inform my hon. Friend the Minister that we will be calling for another debate on its recommendations and looking forward to a commitment from the Government that they will be implemented. However, the most important thing is that all those recommendations, whether they are on raising the age of sale, more tobacco control or licensing—we could go through all the options—will cost money to implement, which is why today we have concentrated on the levy.

I return to the central point that I made at the beginning of the debate: the difference between a levy and taxation that is imposed on the tobacco companies is that the companies just pass the costs of taxation on to the consumer, so they suffer no consequences whatsoever from it. Those companies would not be allowed to pass a levy on to the consumer; they would have to pay it out of their profits, making their product that kills people less profitable. Until we get to that stage, we are not going to have the money in the health service that is required to stop smoking—to encourage people to quit, and to encourage young people not to start. That is why we have concentrated on the levy today. I look forward to helping my hon. Friend the Minister in her arguments with the Treasury, if that is what we need to do to achieve that goal.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House
has considered progress towards the Government’s smokefree 2030 ambition.