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Mr. Deputy Speaker: With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: Amendment No. 1, in page 1, line 8, after "so", insert--


'but does not include an advertisement where the purpose is to reduce the prevalence of smoking, notwithstanding that it may depict a tobacco product.'.

Government amendments Nos. 40 and 41.

Amendment No. 3, in clause 4, page 2, line 23, at end insert--


'or
(e) if it is contained in a tender for a contract to publish a magazine in an overseas market.'.

Amendment No. 7, in page 2, line 23, at end insert--


'or
(f) if it is or is contained in an item of intrinsic value more than 30 years old.'.

Government amendment No. 42.

Amendment No. 32, in clause 8, page 4, line 15, leave out subsection (4).

13 Feb 2001 : Column 203

Government amendments Nos. 43, 44 and 47.

Mrs. Spelman: I commiserate with you on your sore throat, Mr. Deputy Speaker. In an amazing role reversal, perhaps you would like to catch the eye of my hon. Friend the Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox), who may be able to help you with what sounds like a nasty sore throat.

The group of amendments is so large that I am tempted to characterise it as the whole world and his wife with the kitchen sink thrown in. I hope that hon. Members will bear with me as I present our amendments, which are diverse and cover different subjects. Some raise new points; others deal with points that arose from consideration in Committee. They need to be examined on Report.

Amendment No. 2 would incorporate for the first time in the Bill the phrase "product placement". We discussed the definition of "advertisement" in Committee, but we were unsuccessful in obtaining a clear definition from the Government. That weakness will make it difficult for those who must work with the Bill to know what constitutes an advertisement. We successfully drew out from the Minister a few examples that would not be regarded as advertisements. It was helpful to know that tobacco packaging is not regarded as an advertisement. However, the matter was left unclear.

Mr. Ian Bruce: I know that my hon. Friend is trying to pass on to hon. Members the advice that we received from the Minister that a packet did not constitute an advertisement. However, that does not appear in the Bill.

Mrs. Spelman: I thank my hon. Friend for that point. He is right that we are trying to convey to hon. Members who did not serve on the Committee, and might not have had a chance to read Hansard closely, some of the problems to which we are reverting on Report. Some clarification that was given in Committee is not incorporated in the Bill, and that will make it difficult for people to work with the measure.

One important concept missing from the Bill is product placement, which is a widely used method of advertising. We share the Government's concern to reduce the prevalence of smoking and we believe that product placement is a potent form of advertising. It might be helpful if I tried to define product placement, in case hon. Members are unfamiliar with the concept. I would define it as deliberately placing a product in view for the purpose of promoting it. Perhaps hon. Members can think of television programmes or films in which a tobacco product has been clearly placed in view and left there for a considerable time so that the brand is etched on our memory. If one consults avid watchers of soap operas--not that I am one--they are even able to identify the brand of cigarette smoked by the stars in the cast. That is a potent example of product placement.

In Committee, we touched on the question of product placement and stressed to the Government that it was a potent form of advertising to the young in particular, many of whom are avid watchers of television soap operas. I always do my level best to dissuade my children from watching such programmes, for a variety of reasons to do with the values that they sometimes impart. It is a matter of concern that young people watch television programmes or films in which their role models--the stars

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of the programmes or films--are party to product placement in which a tobacco product is placed in clear view.

Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst): Is my hon. Friend confident that she, or whoever she envisages carrying out the task, could distinguish between what she categorises as product placement and the incidental or accidental portrayal of a product? Is she confident that she could draw that line of distinction?

Mrs. Spelman: That is very difficult to do precisely. I shall come in due course to the regulations governing broadcasting, some of which leave such decisions to the editor, saying that such placements may be made if they are editorially justified. I hope that my right hon. Friend would agree that an editor's judgment can become very subjective on those questions, and that it is difficult to say objectively what is editorially justified and what is not.

I want to draw to the House's attention a recent piece of research published in volume 357 of The Lancet, on 6 January 2001. The research undertook a survey of a 10-year sample of contemporary films, examining the increasing role and importance of product placement in them. It established that more than 85 per cent. of the films contained tobacco use. Tobacco brands appeared in 28 per cent. of the films, and brand appearances were as common in films suitable for adolescent audiences as they were in films for adult audiences. That is, 32 per cent. of films for adolescent audiences and 35 per cent. of films for adult audiences contained such appearances. If we are concerned to protect young people, we should be concerned about that.

Tobacco brands were also present in 20 per cent. of the films rated suitable for children. That gives me, as a parent, cause for disquiet. The research stated that brand placement in films had become a preferred method for companies to raise brand awareness and develop favourable associations with their products in an international audience. I fear that there will be an increasing amount of product placement when other conventional forms of advertising are banned by the Bill. Undoubtedly, a great deal of effort will be made in that direction by those wishing to promote tobacco.

Mr. David Taylor: The main thrust of the Opposition's attitude to tobacco advertising is that it serves only to encourage switching between brands. Is it not, however, the case that, in instances of product placement--of which the hon. Lady is rightly critical--a viewer is very rarely able to determine the brand of cigarette being smoked? I hate to echo the comments of the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth), but he made a fair point. One really cannot determine the brand from the way in which tobacco products are placed in entertainment programmes.

Mrs. Spelman: The hon. Gentleman may yet find that more emphasis will be placed on raising brand awareness through this method. There may be more attempts at raising brand awareness, rather than simply presenting a familiar star or television character smoking. It is undoubtedly the goal of a company to increase its market share and, as other forms of advertising are made unavailable to it, it will seek out the remaining opportunities.

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The point of the new clause is to introduce the words "product placement" into the Bill. We are concerned that the existing constraints are not sufficiently effective. We should be deeply concerned that the research published in The Lancet showed that as many as 85 per cent. of films in the past 10 years showed tobacco use, and that tobacco brands appeared in one third of the films surveyed.

When we debated the issue in Committee, we raised with the Minister the problem that many of the most successful blockbuster films in this country emanate from Hollywood and are produced under codes, laws and conventions beyond the jurisdiction of this House. Some of the most blatant examples of product placement relate to American-sourced films. Nothing that could be done as a result of the Bill would curtail what is shown in an American film, unless the Government have plans for some sort of censorship over when the product placement occurs. An example of a brand being shown could involve the stars of a film having a long conversation while standing in front of a billboard advertising, say, Marlboro cigarettes. Under the Bill, it would remain possible for tobacco companies to promote a particular brand in that way.

Reading the research on films, I was concerned to discover the kind of money that goes into the effort to place products. For example, in the film "Mr. Destiny", Walt Disney studios charged advertisers $20,000 for showing a product, $40,000 for showing a product and having an actor mention the product's name, and $60,000 for showing an actor using the product. Those are very substantial sums.

Our purpose in tabling the new clause is to signal to those having to work with the existing arrangements for product placement that we are aware that there may be a major loophole in this area, and that the present constraints are not effective enough. I mentioned American films being shown here and the fact that they are one of the most powerful tools for the promotion of tobacco products. They are particularly effective among young people, among whom the rising prevalence of smoking is causing great concern.

One could not discuss the amendment without examining the rules already in place, which brings me to the point raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth). For his and other hon. Members' benefit, it is worth mentioning what the rules are concerning product placement in programmes.


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