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Mr. Galbraith: Well, I know what my hon. Friend's problem is. A previous hon. Member, Mr. Jerry Hayes, has commented on these matters in the past, so there is no need for me to add to that. Nevertheless, I thank the hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) for the advice, which I shall pass on to all my friends.
Mr. Alasdair Morgan (Galloway and Upper Nithsdale): I agree with the hon. Gentleman about the HEBS campaign, which is indeed excellent, but is not one of the problems--the hon. Gentleman may be coming on to this--the fact that for every million pounds that HEBS spends, it is out-spent tenfold by the tobacco companies trying to get the opposite message across?
I mention the HEBS campaign to contradict what the hon. Member for Woodspring said about the failure to get the message right. HEBS always gets it right--for example, in its "Think about it" campaign. Telling people not to do something, on its own, is not necessarily valuable. I once went round groups of younger people in various parts of Scotland, asking them about drugs and smoking. I asked them what would make them start taking drugs, and they replied, "You telling me not to." That provided some useful discipline.
The next issue is the price escalator. All parties agree that it has an effect. The hon. Member for Woodspring suggested that when the price of cigarettes fell in real terms, an increase in smoking followed. Whether he is right or wrong, price is clearly an important factor.
The contentious point is the value of advertising. The hon. Gentleman made a silly point when he asked whether smoking increases or decreases as a result of advertising. He was never known as an academic giant at university, and the reasons for that are obvious from that comment.
The question is not whether smoking increases or declines, as there are variations and trends. The question is whether the situation would be different without advertising--whether any increase would be smaller or whether any fall would be greater without advertising. That is the evidence that should be sought. The relationship is not straightforward.
Without conducting difficult control trials, the matter is difficult to prove. We should not look for one final silver bullet that would resolve the issue, as suggested by the hon. Member for--is it Wood Green? [Hon. Members: "Woodspring."] I knew that it was something like that: thick, wood.
We should begin by collecting other information, all of which affects the evidence. Rarely in science does one piece of information provide the final proof. Different methodologies, techniques, populations and interventions are used, and when they all begin to point towards a conclusive proof, that is taken as evidence. We all know that nothing can ever be proven absolutely by science, other than analytical factors. Everything is an attempt at falsification, but the more evidence that is collected and the more it points to one factor, the more useful the exercise.
Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle): I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way. We all know that smoking is addictive. I believe that we are going too far in trying to stop people smoking. I understand that Mr. Branson has announced a ban on smoking on Virgin trains, which will affect my constituents and those of my hon. Friend. Does my hon. Friend think it is fair for companies to be able to stop people smoking for six or seven hours, which is the length of the journey at present? [Hon. Members: You're joking.] All right, I am being generous to Virgin.
I agree completely that there should be a ban on advertising and a ban on smoking on public transport. However, as for long-distance travel, we must accept that people are addicted and should make facilities available for them, so long as that does not affect any other passenger.
Mr. Galbraith: I am sorry, but I cannot agree with my hon. Friend. However, I do not want to give my "I'm an anti-smoking fascist" speech tonight, although I believe in all of it. Over the years, I have found it offensive to be in carriages with people who are smoking. If a miner can go down a mine for eight to 10 hours and not smoke, surely someone can be stuck on a train or plane and not smoke.
Mr. Maxton: Is my hon. Friend aware that British Airways and, increasingly, other airlines have no-smoking policies? Although the previous Speaker, Lady Boothroyd, was furious with British Airways when she flew to Australia on a 12-hour flight and was not allowed to light a cigarette for the whole journey, most people can do it without any bother at all.
I believe that we should set an example in the House by stopping smoking in the Tea Room and similar areas--[Interruption.] I knew that that would get some support. I am not in for a cheap laugh but, now and again, it happens: there we are.
Mr. Barron: Earlier, my hon. Friend mentioned miners--I have had personal experience regarding miners--working underground for long hours without access to their cigarettes. People took snuff and chewed tobacco at that time as a way of getting nicotine into the system. Nowadays, however, we have much cleaner delivery systems, such as nicotine patches and chewing gum, for people who are bothered by their addiction on long-haul flights and even long train journeys.
To conclude, I said that most of the evidence in favour of a ban had already been given to the House by the Secretary of State. The hon. Member for Woodspring made claims against that evidence and said that smoking had increased in recent years, so there was a great calumny by the Labour party. I have just been looking at the figures from the statistical bulletin for July 2000 which start in 1978 and, I accept, only go up to 1998. When one looks at the figures, one sees a variation over the years--they go up and down a bit. If anything, the overall figures dropped in absolute terms by 1 per cent. from 1996 to 1998. That is based on a data collection base of 12,295 and sampling within that, so we may wonder just how significant or otherwise that drop is.
When one looks at the age cohorts within those statistics, one sees that the reduction continues year after year for the over-35s, all the way from 1978 onwards. However, presumably because a lot of smokers die, the extent of that reduction decreases. When one looks at groups in which people take up smoking--the 16 to 19-year-olds and 20 to 24-year-olds--one sees a significant increase, all the way from 1992 onwards. That increase has not occurred only since the Labour Government came to power, so the great calumny does not hold, and the situation cannot be explained only by the fact that cigarettes are cheaper. Every year since 1992, there has been an increase, and the largest and most significant increases, we all agree, are in the female population.
New people are taking up cigarettes. It is no good blaming that on the fact that cigarettes are cheaper. From the available evidence, there is no question but that advertising has an effect, and the group on which it has that effect consists of young men and--because of the nature of the advertising--especially young women. Although nothing can be proved absolutely, we would be failing in our duty if we did not recognise the effect that advertising has on the consumption of cigarettes, and especially their uptake. As everyone has said, advertising is designed to encourage uptake. It is not about changing brands, but about encouraging an increased uptake at a rate sufficient to offset those who give up or die. The House would be failing in its duty if it did not take some measures to try to alleviate that problem, along with the others. That is why I hope that all hon. Members will support the Government in the Lobby tonight.
Sir Peter Emery (East Devon): I have always believed that when one has any sort of interest in the subject that is being debated, one should declare it. I have no financial interest whatever in tobacco, but I have been chairman of the National Asthma Campaign for 12 years and am also chairman of the House of Commons all-party asthma group. As I said, I take no money from tobacco, but giving to related charities has cost me a lot of money, so it is the other way around.
I am in favour of the Bill. It contains weaknesses, but any steps that can be taken to limit the number of young people who are likely to take up smoking deserve the support of all parties. I am sorry that it does not have such support.
I should like to deal with some of the medical evidence that does not come directly from the doctors. The Select Committee on Health posed a number of intriguing questions to cigarette manufacturing companies when it prepared its excellent second report, entitled "The Tobacco Industry and the Health Risks of Smoking." It asked:
It is intriguing to note the National Asthma Campaign's estimate that some 3.4 million people in the United Kingdom have asthma. It estimates that one in 25 adults and one in seven children have the condition, at an annual cost to the UK of £2 billion, including costs to the national health service alone of £670 million-odd a year.
Smoking can cause asthma. Babies whose mothers continue to smoke during pregnancy have an almost 50 per cent. risk of being born wheezy or with breathing problems. Cigarette smoking is a common trigger of asthma, and causes difficulties for up to 80 per cent. of people who suffer from it. When I, as an asthmatic, walk through one end of the Upper Committee Corridor, where smoking is allowed, my asthma is affected. That happens when I simply walk past a place where one or two members of staff are, quite legally, smoking. It is an example of the way in which passive smoking can affect people.
People have a right to expect clean, smoke-free air at home, at work, on public transport and in public places. I am sorry that the Bill does not do more to give effect to that. It presented an opportunity to take further action on passive smoking; that opportunity has not been taken. I am critical of the Bill because of that.
It is ungallant of several hon. Members to try to discredit the attempts of previous Conservative Governments, starting from nothing, to limit advertising generally and on cigarette packets. Those were positive measures and credit should be given to the Conservative Government for introducing them.