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Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, I fully intend to ask further questions. I thank the noble Lord for his intervention, and I will be concluding very shortly. Do the Government plan to ensure that they are continuously aware of their legal responsibilities? As a member of the Parents Against Tobacco Campaign in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I welcome the local authority enforcement protocol which has been mentioned and I look forward to seeing the proposals for criminal law when they come forward.
As regards the making available of nicotine replacement therapy on prescription, will this be universally available? It is not clear from the Statement. We on these Benches believe that this is a good day for Britain's health and the health service and a bad day for the tobacco companies. We therefore welcome the Statement on that basis.
Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I am grateful for the broad welcome that has been given to the Statement by the noble Earl, Lord Howe, and the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones. This is a comprehensive package of measures intended to try to reduce smoking in this country, and it is important to stress the comprehensive nature of the package.
The noble Earl, Lord Howe, asked about the effects of banning advertising in itself on rates of smoking. He asked whether this was not in fact price-sensitive. He also referred to the possibility of unintended consequences. There has been a great deal of evidence on this and an important study was undertaken by the Department of Health, looking at the effect of the banning of advertising in four countries: Norway, Finland, Canada and New Zealand. The conclusion was that in each case the banning of advertising was followed by a fall in smoking on a scale that cannot
In answer to the noble Earl, we also believe that the terms of the directive are very wide. They do not deal only with billboard advertising for smoking or newspaper advertisements for smoking. The concept of brand stretching is included in the directive, as are all the promotional activities of the tobacco companies that go on, such as the giving out of free cigarettes at nightclubs, among many other promotional activities. So there is a very broad range of activities which we believe are usefully covered by the ban and that ban will be brought in as soon as possible. Obviously it is important that we consult on the regulations, and that is what is being done within this parliamentary Session, but we want to make progress and we want it to be effective as soon as possible.
As for the targets, the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, suggested that they were not stretching enough. We believe, given the current increase in the numbers of young people who are smoking, that it is extremely challenging to make the kinds of rates of reduction that we hope to see by the year 2005. We are also challenging ourselves to make sure that the rates of reduction lie across all social classes. The evidence of the Acheson Report showed the difficulties involved in achieving those rates, and we do not want to see the health gap increasing in this area.
Turning to the issue of nicotine replacement therapy, perhaps I can clarify the position there. It is not that we are making this available on prescription for some people and not for others. This therapy is not available on prescription at the moment: it is available for sale over-the-counter from pharmacists. For those targeted groups where the problems are greatest, as part of a smoking cessation plan--and the evidence is very clearly that the greatest effect is when nicotine replacement therapy is given as part of an overall supportive plan to help people give up smoking--particularly in health action zones and among the poorer people, we hope it will be possible to give at least a week's supply, a starter supply, of nicotine replacement therapy.
I should point out of course that once you have got over the hump of the first week or two, the costs of the nicotine replacement therapy are in fact less than the average smoker is spending on smoking, and so we start seeing people being able to pay for their own therapy. I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Howe, that pharmacists can be particularly helpful in this area and we welcome the involvement that they have pledged themselves to make in giving advice and support, as well as selling nicotine replacement therapy products.
As regards the workplace, I can tell the House that it is intended that the Health and Safety Commission should consult on a new approved code of practice on smoking in the workplace. It will toughen up existing measures and be designed to improve the protection and welfare of all employees by defining the kind of
I turn now to the international concerns. On the issue of tar content, the European Commission is considering further legislative proposals covering tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide, as well as tobacco labelling and health warnings. We welcome those steps and will work closely with the Commission and other member states to achieve practical improvements on current directives in these subjects. In terms of broader international action, which I believe the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, mentioned, the new director general of WHO has made smoking one of its top priorities. The framework convention proposal will provide an overall structure of objectives, with more detailed action set out in various protocols. The aim would be to commit all signatory states to develop policies along the same broad lines, but not bind them to particular activities until they are ready to commit themselves to the relevant protocol. We have been asked to play a leading role in developing the convention to see how we can help other countries.
Perhaps I may now turn to the question of sports sponsorship. The international experience is that, given enough time to adapt, sports and other tobacco-sponsored activities can find alternative sources of sponsorship. Perhaps I may tell the noble Earl that we certainly want to help sports find exactly those sorts of alternatives because we are anti-tobacco advertising, not anti-sport. Indeed, my honourable friend the Minister for Sport has called together a group of experts to advise and help sports, which are facing difficulties in adapting, to find the new sponsors that they need.
The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, drew attention to the particular needs of pregnant women. He is absolutely right: this is one of the areas where we have set ourselves targets for reductions. We believe that it is an especially important time when parents and parents to be are focused on their health needs. It is also a particularly useful time to intervene and we shall be working with the relevant professionals to ascertain what is the most effective form of activity in certain areas.
I believe that I have covered most of the points raised, but I shall review what has been said when I read the Hansard report tomorrow. I shall write to noble Lords if I have not covered all the matters raised.
The Earl of Lauderdale: My Lords, after the 10 minutes used up by the Liberal spokesman, I have one quick question for the Minister. Can she say whether the Government's anti-smoking campaign includes positive
Baroness Hayman: My Lords, the noble Earl has made a fascinating contribution and one which I believe deserves serious attention. I shall ensure that my right honourable friend the Minister for Public Health takes note of his suggestion.
Lord Janner of Braunstone: My Lords, does my noble friend the Minister recognise how important this White Paper is and how greatly it will be welcomed by most people, even the majority of smokers? Having said that, does my noble friend agree that those adults who exercise their freedom to smoke should also respect the wishes of non-smokers not to be adversely affected by it; not to have to work in an environment of smoke; and not to have to eat and drink in places where the air is polluted by smoke? If my noble friend does agree, does she not consider that this House could set an example? To the best of my knowledge, the only place in this House where you can eat smoke free is in the staff dining room. Therefore, should there not be a smoke-free area in all eating places in this House? If not, can my noble friend say why not?
Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I think I made it quite clear that we want to build on the progress which has already been made in many sectors of the hospitality industry to make improvements and give real choice to consumers. As my noble friend rightly points out, there are different sorts of freedoms here. For example, there is the freedom, which no-one is challenging, for individuals to continue smoking if they so wish. There is also the freedom of people who want to eat and drink in a smoke-free area. We want to encourage the industry to make progress in providing separate facilities.
As my noble friend will be well aware, I answer for the Government in this Chamber, not for the Chairman of Committees or for the committees of the House which are in charge of issues relating to smoking within your Lordships' House. I understand that a working group is currently undertaking a review of smoking policy in this House. As a Member of the House rather than a member of the Government, I suspect that I would tend towards my noble friend's views on the matter.
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