Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill

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Mr. Ian Bruce: I think that the Minister is getting to one of the definitions that it would be much more sensible to have in the Bill: the provision should cover advertisements, or promotions that are paid for by the tobacco industry. At present, that is not within the Bill. An advertisement is an advertisement, whether it is paid for or not.

One of the problems with editorial is that a person writing about medical research may have been paid out of a trust set up by the tobacco industry—at the urging of politicians—to investigate the harmful effects of tobacco. Under the definition that the Minister has just given about paid advertising, or paid editorialising, effectively, anyone who had been paid by the tobacco industry, no matter how independent they were, could not publish the results of that research.

Yvette Cooper: The Bill includes sponsorship, the purpose of which is to cover tobacco company sponsorship and promotion of events, be they artistic or sporting. The reason why it is important to ask whether and how advertisements are paid for is because sponsorship issues apply in those circumstances. I think that it is right that they do.

The common-sense interpretation of the word ``advertisement'' includes promotion of a product. If we tied the provision down to whether specific sums had been paid at specific times, issues around free advertisement or arrangements in kind would not be included. However, the Bill makes it clear that journalist's reports on particular tobacco products, written opinions, or artistic expressions—individuals' freedom of expression—are not the target.

Clause 2 mentions a person who

    ``in the course of a business''

publishes a tobacco advertisement. That phrase is important. The hon. Member for South Dorset would not be prosecuted for wearing his jacket with ``Silk Cut'' emblazoned across it, assuming he is not doing so in the course of a business to promote Silk Cut, or whatever the product might be.

Mr. Bruce: I am clear about that—I would not have come to the Committee to be arrested—but what is the position of the person who produced the jacket: the person who embroidered ``Silk Cut'' on the jacket? She or he would be covered by the Bill, as I see it. Certainly, the company that had it manufactured—Silk Cut is a UK tobacco manufacturer—is covered. Is that an advertisement that is covered by the Bill?

Yvette Cooper: Once the Bill comes into force, it is intended that advertising on the back of jackets, on billboards and in magazines will be covered. Clearly, some complicated issues are associated with brand sharing, which is why we will discuss that further in Committee. It would not be the best use of the Committee's time to discuss it in detail at this point.

The hon. Gentleman asked questions about House of Commons cigarettes. We can debate brand sharing, but clearly the Bill is not intended to prevent legitimate business diversification. It is intended to prevent the promotion and advertising of tobacco products to encourage people to smoke.

Mr. Bruce: I am sorry to press the point, but the brand sharing part of the Bill gives the Secretary of State powers to make orders about brand sharing. It is not on the face of the Bill, and we need to get it into the definition at this point. My Silk Cut sailing jacket does not promote cigarettes as such, because the name of the boat in the Whitbread race was called ``Silk Cut''. The tobacco company did not issue the jackets to its guests until they got off the boat. It did not allow the vessel ``Silk Cut'' to show any Silk Cut logos until it was outside UK waters. That is what comes from a voluntary code. I am really asking the hon. Lady whether, under the Bill. the tobacco companies could say ``It is not a problem. It is not paid-for advertising. It is the name of the boat.'' In that case, the Bill would allow them to do more than they were doing before.

Yvette Cooper: Brand sharing is included in the Bill and was included in the scope of the EU directive and the detailed discussions at a European level, because we want to prevent tobacco companies using alternative ways to promote their tobacco products and brands, whether by using clothing or alternative methods to provide the advertisements. Ultimately, if the purpose is to promote the tobacco product, whether or not there is a picture of the cigarettes themselves emblazoned on the back of the jacket, that is an advertisement. We believe that that should be covered because that is the intention of Parliament in banning comprehensively tobacco advertising and promotion. We do not intend that the Bill should merely ban certain narrow practices, but allow the promotion of tobacco products to children and adults, to smokers and non-smokers, to continue as before. That is why we have attempted to make the Bill comprehensive.

My hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron) also mentioned branded tobacco products. The Bill prohibits the promotion of tobacco products, including branded tobacco products. We will certainly discuss the promotion of brands and the way in which brand sharing needs to be controlled.

Mr. Barron: I accept that we are going to discuss that under clause 10 and I look forward to the debate. What worries me is whether, in defining tobacco products in clause 1, but not tobacco brands, we are unknowingly limiting the scope of the Bill and will open the door to the practices that have been mentioned. People could move into promotion in other areas if clause 1 does not refer to a brand as well as a product. If the Minister has had legal advice that the terms mean the same, then that is the end of the debate.

12.15 pm

Yvette Cooper: The legal advice that we have had is that the provisions on brand sharing are certainly within the scope of the Bill. We can return to the detail later.

The hon. Member for South Dorset raised the issue of nicotine replacement therapies. Products on the market such as the Nicorette patches do not contain tobacco, so they are not tobacco products, although they are nicotine products. Consequently, they are not covered by the Bill, although he will be aware that there is extensive regulation around medicines.

Mr. Ian Bruce: I hear what the Minister says. Clearly, she has specialist advice available to her, but my understanding is that the nicotine that is used in nicotine replacement products is taken from tobacco and that, under the definition in part I, it is made up of tobacco products. If nicotine is being produced from a source other than tobacco, clearly, it will not be covered. I should be grateful for clarification on that point.

Yvette Cooper: The Bill's clear intention is not to cover products that have been regulated by the Medicines Control Agency and where the purpose is to help people to give up smoking. Our legal advice is that nicotine replacement therapy is not covered by the Bill and by the definition in the clause. They are treated not as tobacco products, but as nicotine products.

I turn to the broader issues that have been raised. Hon. Members have briefly touched on smuggling. We discussed that matter on Second Reading. There is not a choice between banning tobacco advertising and tackling smuggling. Those things should be done at the same time. Many points have been made about the problems of smuggling. It is absolutely right that we tackle those. That is why the Government have set out an extensive programme to tackle them. However, that is not a reason not to ban tobacco advertising.

The hon. Member for South Dorset raised the self-policing, voluntary regime on tobacco advertising. A self-policing, voluntary regime that still permits magazine, billboard or direct-mail advertisements that explicitly target the 70 per cent. of smokers who want to give up—young smokers and new smokers—is not testimony to the effectiveness of voluntary agreement. To permit all that advertising under a voluntary agreement and then say that voluntary agreement is the right way forward and the right thing to do is a mistake. A voluntary agreement permits all the advertising that we are explicitly trying to ban—advertising that promotes tobacco products to children and adults who are trying to give up smoking and that increases tobacco product consumption.

Mr. Bruce: I am not suggesting that all the terms and conditions of the voluntary agreement are sufficient, but can the Minister tell the Committee what has been volunteered by the tobacco industry, or what the Department of Health has said to that industry? Has it suggested that the industry cut particular advertising, or the way in which some products are advertised? I understand that the tobacco industry has approached the Government—not the other way round—and that it has been rebuffed.

Yvette Cooper: The Government are clear that they do not see voluntary agreement with the tobacco industry as the way forward. We do not see previous voluntary agreements as effective in any sense. Opposition Members have talked, almost with pride, about voluntary agreements in the past and how they prevented tobacco companies from targeting new smokers and young people. There is absolutely clear evidence in the report of the Select Committee on Health, in which it gathered information from tobacco companies and advertising agencies, that tobacco companies target new smokers. They need to. When 120,000 of their customers die each year from smoking-related diseases, they need new smokers in order to sustain their market. There is a quote in one of the documents gathered by the Select Committee on Health, in which it is said:

    ``Ultra has yet to demonstrate a consistent ability to attract new smokers. The key question is `can we expect the brand to appeal to new entrants—or is there a positioning that we can adopt that makes the brand more attractive to entrants.'''

Tobacco companies clearly look for new smokers. They also target young smokers; there are promotions aimed at students and at young smokers. The impact of that is felt by children as well. According to some research, the recognition levels of tobacco brands in the United States is worryingly high—even among six year olds.

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