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8.33 pm

Mr. Adrian Bailey (West Bromwich, West): I support the Bill, and I make no apologies for saying that my attitude to smoking and tobacco advertising has been determined from a young age by my experience of the suffering caused by tobacco in my family. I suspect that many other people who take the line that I do have seen their families similarly touched by this appalling manifestation of the market economy.

My first involvement with death was when I was seven. I saw my grandfather--a jovial, 6 ft 4 in giant of a man, full of vitality and a marvellous example to his grandchildren--reduced within six months to a white, skeletal, hacking wreck: he died of lung cancer through cigarette smoking. My father was so affected that he gave up cigarette smoking. When I saw my father's X-rays shortly before he died, the surgeon pointed out the damage that had been done to his lungs by his years as a cigarette smoker 30 years before.

In that context, I must take issue with the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Chope), who said that young people smoke because the Department of Health has told them that they can give up later in life and the damage will be rectified. The Department has never said that. It has said that it is worth giving up smoking at any stage because one's life will be prolonged compared with those of people who continue to smoke. I saw that in my father: he lived longer than he would have lived had he continued to smoke, but the damage done to his lungs by years of smoking was a significant factor when he died.

I grew up determined that, whatever other health risks I might face in life, smoking was one that I could well do without and that I would do everything in my power to ensure that others did without it. My opposition to smoking is reinforced by my experience in my constituency of West Bromwich, West. Deaths from lung and heart disease are 20 per cent. above the average, which is a major reason why the area is a health action zone. The Smee report, which I heard derided earlier, estimates that a ban on tobacco advertising would reduce smoking-related deaths by about 2.5 per cent.--perhaps 1,500 or 1,600 a year. That represents only a small fraction of the 120,000 who die annually, but it is well worth the Government taking action to save those lives.

To turn the argument around, if a natural disaster or a train crash killed 1,600 people, many of those Members who defend the rights of tobacco advertisers would be up

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in arms demanding that the Government take action. Deaths from lung cancer occur quietly each day, are spread across the country and are witnessed only by hospital staff and grieving relatives so they do not have the public impact of a spectacular disaster killing 1,600 people. None the less, 1,600 such deaths cause as much misery, grief and suffering for those left behind as the same number of deaths in a disaster.

For a long time, my particular concern has been the impact of smoking on young people--teenagers and, in particular, young women. My hon. Friend the Member for Chorley (Mr. Hoyle) referred to statistics showing that the number of smokers is falling nationally, although it is rising among teenagers and especially among young women. That is no surprise. We have had a long battle with my 18-year-old stepson, trying to stop him smoking. Smoking is part of the cool image, and young teenagers are insecure and sensitive to being kept out of social circles. It is so easy for them to succumb to the temptation to have a cigarette when a packet is passed round.

Mr. David Taylor: Given the statistics that my hon. Friend has mentioned and his description of the particular problems facing young people, is he not astonished--even nauseated--by Conservative Members who, when given the choice of safeguarding children's health or backing a tobacco industry that pollutes the atmosphere and poisons its patrons, go so unerringly for the tobacco industry?

Mr. Bailey: I welcome my hon. Friend's comments and agree entirely. What concerns me is that young people are bombarded with images of a certain predetermined, glamorous way of life, and the tobacco industry has been clever in attaching itself to that image.

I have heard much this evening about the association of tobacco advertising with Formula 1 racing. It is obvious that young people who are interested in the fast cars of the motor racing circuit will associate that glamorous life with cigarette smoking, given that the logos are so prominently displayed on the cars. I do not pretend that we will change all that in one fell swoop by banning tobacco advertising or sponsorship, but we will eliminate one pressure that affects young people's behaviour and encourages them to take up cigarette smoking.

I especially welcome the proposed end of tobacco sponsorship in other sports. It has always been a source of amazement to me that sports such as rugby league and cricket, which demonstrate athleticism, vitality, health and vigour, should be used as a vehicle for promoting a habit that will destroy all those qualities. Tobacco manufacturers have again been clever in associating themselves with those sports. They know that the participants are icons and appear to promote the habit, even if they do so without their agreement.

I welcome the Bill. It is totally inappropriate for a Government to invest money in the health service and promote a health policy if they leave out this part of the equation, which will improve our health standards. The banning of tobacco advertising was a key manifesto commitment in the last election, and I am proud to have the opportunity to back it. I look forward to the day when

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we realise our health targets secure in the knowledge that the Bill has played a part in reversing a trend that has done so much damage to so many people over so many years.

8.42 pm

Mr. John Greenway (Ryedale): The Bill is well intentioned. As my hon. Friend the Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox) said, smoking is bad. Labour Members, in particular the hon. Member for West Bromwich, West (Mr. Bailey), have said much about how bad smoking can be, and mentioned the illness and death that it causes. However, the issue for many Opposition Members is whether the Bill goes beyond what is reasonable in respect of a legal product.

My first declaration is that I am a lifelong non-smoker. It would not bother me if everyone gave up. In fact, many of us suffer in polite tolerance the smoking of our colleagues and friends. I suspect that many other right hon. and hon. Members who have never smoked would agree with my observation that smoking in restaurants has ruined many a good meal. I find that practice extremely distasteful. I want to make it clear from the outset that the less people smoke, the happier I am.

There has been a welcome noticeable reduction in consumption in recent years. We have been told how a mixture of policy--voluntary agreements on sports sponsorship, a ban on television advertising and the promotion of health education--has made a major contribution to reducing smoking by two-fifths in the past two or three decades. However, the central question that the House must ask is whether a ban on what remaining advertising and promotion is permitted within voluntary agreements and existing regulations will achieve a further reduction in smoking, which is the justification for the Bill.

I confess that I had not appreciated the extent to which consumption is rising as a result of the illegal import of cheap cigarettes. That should not have come as too much of a surprise to us, because we all know--however rural or urban our constituencies may be--that such products are available. In fact, two of my constituents are postal workers and they were recently arrested at Hull docks with a car full of £17,000 worth of cigarettes. They went to prison for three months, and admitted to a previous offence. Cigarette smuggling should not come as a surprise, because the same problem arises in respect of cheap drink.

For reasons that my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Mr. Chope) enumerated, it is a cause of considerable sadness and concern that the decline in tobacco consumption appears to have halted.

Mr. Hawkins: My hon. Friend will understand why I was surprised when, in response to my intervention on his speech, the Secretary of State said that smuggling was not on the increase. In addition to our mutual concerns about smuggling--he mentioned one case--my hon. Friend shares my passion for sport. Does he share my concern that the Bill, far from controlling smuggling, will have a harmful effect on sport? We may both be non-smokers and we may both wish to discourage smoking, but will it do any good if the Government smother an industry that employs many people, damage sport and encourage

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smuggling? Is that not typical of this Government? The road to hell is paved with good intentions--intentions which actually do a lot of damage.

Mr. Greenway: My hon. Friend makes his own point. I was going to use less provocative language, because I want to encourage the Minister to meet us part of the way. I wanted to speak because of my concern about what will happen to some sports in the next three or four years and the danger of a possible ban on other products. I shall return to that issue shortly.

I declare another interest: for the past 13 years or so, I have advised the sales promotion and incentive industry. That industry has accepted the Government's position that there should be a complete ban on the promotion of tobacco products. Indeed, several years ago, some companies involved in the manufacture and sourcing of promotional products decided that they no longer wished to be involved with the tobacco industry. I assure the House that I am not in any way lobbying for change.

That approach, however, has had an impact of which the House should be aware. Many small businesses, manufacturers and sourcing agents suffered severely financially when the Government tried to rush through a ban based on the European directive, which was eventually declared illegal. A central feature of that was the ban on loyalty coupons in cigarette packets, which caused some tobacco companies to cancel contracts. One of the major high street retailers, Argos, is involved in coupon redemption to a substantial extent. We are not talking about tacky, cheap products: we are talking about some of our most prestigious manufacturers of cut glass, china, hi-fis, televisions and so on. Whatever line we take on whether a ban is justified and what impact it will have, we must be careful about the speed with which we introduce it, since there could be an adverse impact on legitimate businesses. Some of the industries concerned may operate in our constituencies. The potteries have had a bad time in the past 25 or 30 years--

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