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Lord Clinton-Davis: So what, my Lords? I do not care whether it was unanimous or not; it was wrong. The noble Lord did not speak about the infringement of the human liberties of the people who suffer from passive smoking, or any sort of smoking. Whether it occurs in the home or outside is irrelevant. I would support a conclusion that there should be no smoking in the home at all.
I am not persuaded by the idea that what is proposed now represents an infringement of human liberty at all. Nor is the question of choice relevant. Does the victim of passive smoking have any choice? I think not. For that reason I also unreservedly support banning smoking in the workplace and in enclosed public places. I would go even further, but we
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are considering today what is in the Bill. The question of choice therefore represents a sort of blindfold to which we should not be subject at all.
It has also been proposed that the Bill include other concerns. The fact that we do not deal with everything is no reason for not dealing with something. Therefore, although we ought to consider road vehicles on other occasions, on this occasion we are considering smoking. For that reason we should come to the conclusion that is consistent with pretty well all the medical and health organisations that have opined on this issue. Their views unmistakeably are that smoking, particularly passive smoking, is injurious to health.
The noble Lord, Lord Monson, flies entirely in the face of the opinion of people well qualified to opine on these issues because it is part of their everyday experience. People such as nurses, doctorsand I am not talking only about consultants, but ordinary doctorsunreservedly, through their professional bodies, come to the view that smoking is harmful. It is a view that I agree with. I do not think that any noble Lord ought readily to fly in the face of the opinion of people such as those to whom I have referred.
The issue has been well tried in Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand, New York and elsewhere. It would be idle to pretend that we can ignore the views of people as widely based as that. I admit readily that I am prejudiced about this because I smoked until 1992, when I became ill. I smoked cigars; I think I was wrongI exposed people to risk who had no choice about what I was doing.
Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, I have never smoked. I dislike smoking, particularly in restaurants. But I consider that Parliament, encouraged by the Government, pushes people about far too much. I support the noble Lord's amendment but I ask him: am I not right in thinking that the Liberal Democrats, who are in power in Scotland, brought about the total ban in Scotland? What is the Liberal point of view on this? What is liberal? Does choice matter, or does it not? In Scotland, nobody can smoke in a restaurant. I quite enjoy that, I am bound to say, but Parliament had better stop messing people about.
Lord Skidelsky: My Lords, I yield to no one in my great respect for the medical evidence of the noble Lord, Lord Walton of Detchant, but he really must not be allowed to get away with this. I served on the much-abused Select Committee, whose excellent report has been cited. In considering the medical danger, there are two sides to the questionthe epidemiology, on which the noble Lord is very qualified to speak, and the statistics. Both give an idea of the risk.
The two experts on our committee were not doctors but statisticians. They understood the statistics and on the basis of their examination of the statistical evidence, they concluded that the risk from passive smoking was actually quite small. There was a risk, but it was quite small. On the basis of their conclusion, we
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concluded that the response of the Government was disproportionate. It is not that there is no risk and that it should not be addressed in some way, but the blanket response of banning smoking in all public places is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. The Government gave up too soon, propelled by their own Back-Benchers. There are alternative things that can be done.
The noble Lord, Lord Walton of Detchant, said that he was unconvinced by the possibilities of ventilation. The possibilities are there, and technology means that they are improving the whole time. There is a lot of evidence that ventilation reduces ETS by up to 90 per cent where it is properly installed and properly applied, and it does not cost that much. That is a route we should explore; it is the method used in many countries in the European Union. We would be in a minority in the European Union in going for a blanket ban. For those reasons, I support this amendment.
The noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, talked about supervision. That is a problem with any legislation, whether you have to supervise separate accommodation, ventilation systems or total bans. I should have thought, on balance, that it would be more difficult to supervise total bans than more targeted measures, which arouse less hostility.
Lord Turnberg: My Lords, I very much enjoyed listening to the noble Lord, Lord Wakeham. He spoke very eloquently about the views of his committee, but I am afraid I cannot support the amendments. I believe that they would dilute the effect of a very important part of the Bill and allow all sorts of loopholes to be opened. I declare my interest as an ex-practising physician and past president of the Royal College of Physicians, which had a view on smoking.
It has been suggested, I think by the noble Lord, Lord Monson, that smoking at home would increase if this part of the Bill were not amended. But experience from other countries shows the opposite, and that smoking at home decreases as a result. We are talking about a health hazard, the risks of which are absolutely clear. We know that passive smoking at home clearly increases the risk of lung cancer, heart attacks and strokes. An enormous number of studies have shown thatit is a toxin. Furthermore, we know that smoking in pubs and clubs raises pollution in those places to levels much higher than in most other places, including Victoria Street and the Marylebone Road, where they have been measured. When measured, the levels of cotinine, a smoke pollutant, in the saliva of pub workers who do not smoke are very high. In fact, they are higher than those of non-smoking spouses who live in the same house as those who smoke.
We also know that there appears to be a straight-line relationship between smoke exposure and the risk of disease and deaththe more exposure, the greater the riskand there is no absolutely safe lower limit. In fact, for coronary heart disease, it is non-linear. That is, low levels of exposure are almost as risky as high levels. Incidentally, that is quite different from the case of alcohol, where we know that a large amount of
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alcohol is dangerouswhich I have spoken about on a number of occasionsbut a small amount is actually protective. The relationship with alcohol is not linear; it is U-shaped, so comparisons with alcohol are not reasonable.
Then we have the epidemiological evidence that it is likely, on a conservative estimate, that about one hospitality industry non-smoking worker a week dies from the effects of exposure to smoke. That was published in the British Medical Journal last year. Even Philip Morris, the United States smoking giant, seems to accept that and has published it.
In talking of choice, it does not seem credible that we would allow anyone to spray carcinogens into an atmosphere where others could breathe them inwe would be down on them in a flash. Faced with all that, I find it hard to accept the proposal that we should weaken the Bill by agreeing to this amendment. It just does not seem right and I cannot support it.
Lord Vinson: My Lords, I declare a non-interest as a non-smoker, as someone who does not like smoking, has never wished to smoke and does not enjoy the company of people who are smoking, although I enjoy the company of smokers. I do not particularly like to cross swords with my neighbour, the noble Lord, Lord Walton, but there is another side to this: people's enjoyment of their social life. An Englishman's home is his castle and an Englishman's club is his home. We should not deny people the right to smoke in a segregated room in which the staff do not have to serve, where people can meet and damage their own health if they want towhere they are fully aware of the risk. It is quite wrong for us to protect people from their own foolishness.
A member of staff may sign the fact that she does not wish to serve in a smoky zone and then be pressed into it late at night to clear up the dishes when the smokers have gone. To suggest that that small exposure to passive smokingthree or four minutes of old smokewill lead to her rapid demise misses the whole question of the nature of poisons. The nature of poison is in the dosethe greater the dose, the greater the risk. Provided that there are adequate staff safeguards, we should not stop people doing what they wish to do in segregated rooms in their clubs, albeit that they are damaging their own health. This is indeed a freedom issue and I know that in my own constituency, where I live, many people are now deeply upset by this social deprivationsomething that will be denied to them which they have hitherto had. This is a freedom issue of the first importance and I intend to vote for this measure.
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