The UK Government and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

A little while ago, I became acutely aware of the importance of The Treaty known as ‘The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control”. The most recent ‘awareness generating event’ was a statement from Milton MP (junior minister of health) in which she stated that the UK had no option other than to comply with WHO (World Health Organisation) demands for action on Tobacco Control. She said that the UK has ‘a legal obligation’ to obey the WHO. She isn’t the first to make statements of that nature.

What was her justification for making that statement? It can only be that the UK signed and ratified The Treaty.

What do the vast majority of us know about the nature of treaties? In fact, what do MPs know about the nature of treaties?

I was convinced that treaties must, surely, be approved by Parliament and so I started a search of ‘Parliamentary Business’ (including Acts, Debates and sundry committees) looking for any mention of The FCTC Treaty being laid before Parliament, in any form, for approval and ratification. I searched for hours through Hansard looking for clues, without success.

(I must make readers aware at this point that this post is going to be a long one. Eventually, I think that it might become a separate page in the sidebar because it impinges upon the behaviour or ASH ET AL. In a way, it is not dissimilar to the McTear Case.)

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Readers might not want to read everything in what follows, and so I have ‘made bold’ those quotes which I think are significant as regards, especially, the script from which ASH ET AL work.

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First, let us try to see what MPs in the past have expected as regards Parliamentary approval of treaties. Information is very, very hard to come by (in the sense of statements made by MPs in the House of Commons).  So here is a statement regarding the setting up of North Atlantic Treaty (Organisation):

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

HC Deb 28 April 1949 vol 464 cc366-8

 Mr. Piratin

Can the Lord President say when it is proposed to introduce into the House the North Atlantic Treaty for Debate and ratification?

§Mr. Morrison

That will not be next week, but I shall see to it. The hon. Gentleman can take it that it will be quite soon.

I think that it reasonable to assume that, in 1949, MPs expected to debate and ratify such treaties – or, at least, that particular treaty.

Another quote, this time very close to the present – the Lisbon Treaty:

BBC News: Q & A: The Lisbon Treaty: Jan 2011.

Why was the constitution dropped?

France and the Netherlands said they would be unable to adopt the constitutional treaty without significant changes, following the 2005 referendums.

The UK also pressed hard for a modest “amending treaty”, which could be ratified by means of a parliamentary vote, like earlier EU treaties.

Thus we can see that it is/was not unusual for Parliament to ratify treaties. On the other hand, it is very clear that many treaties were not approved directly by Parliament.

Only after searching for hours did I have the sense to approach the matter laterally. Rather than look for specific treaties, I looked for some general words about the ratification of treaties in the UK. Here is what I found on Wikipedia:

In the UK, treaty ratification was a Royal Prerogative, exercised by Her Majesty’s Government. But, by a convention called the Ponsonby Rule, treaties were usually placed before parliament for 21 days before ratification.

Here is a descripton of the Ponsonby Rule:

From the late 19th century it became the common practice to present the treaties of the United Kingdom to Parliament after they had come into force.

On 1 April 1924, during the Second Reading Debate on the Treaty of Peace (Turkey) Bill, Mr Arthur Ponsonby (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in Ramsay MacDonald‘s first Labour Government) made the following statement:

It is the intention of His Majesty’s Government to lay on the table of both Houses of Parliament every treaty, when signed, for a period of 21 days, after which the treaty will be ratified and published and circulated in the Treaty Series. In the case of important treaties, the Government will, of course, take an opportunity of submitting them to the House for discussion within this period. But, as the Government cannot take upon itself to decide what may be considered important or unimportant, if there is a formal demand for discussion forwarded through the usual channels from the Opposition or any other party, time will be found for the discussion of the Treaty in question.

At the same time he stated that:

Resolutions expressing Parliamentary approval of every Treaty before ratification would be a very cumbersome form of procedure and would burden the House with a lot of unnecessary business. The absence of disapproval may be accepted as sanction, and publicity and opportunity for discussion and criticism are the really material and valuable elements which henceforth will be introduced.

The Ponsonby Rule was withdrawn during the subsequent Baldwin Government, but was reinstated in 1929 and gradually hardened into a practice observed by all successive Governments.

From 2010 (I think that this was after the debacle about the lack of referendum over the Lisbon Treaty), statutory provisons were made for the ratification of treaties. This has now been put on statutory footing by the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010.

 

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AND SO WE SEE THAT THE ‘FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON TOBACCO CONTROL’ WAS NOT RATIFIED BY PARLIAMENT. We also know how this was done – by invoking ‘The Ponsonby Rule’. For we shall see in what follows that no attempt whatseover was made to gain the approval of Parliament for the Tobacco Control Treaty.

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I said earlier that this would be a long post. The reason for that is that I want to place on record a reasonably accurate extraction of everything said in Parliament about the ‘Framework Convention on Tobacco Control’ Treaty (within reason). I have used the facility provided by Hansard to search for any reference to ‘framework-convention-tobacco-control’.  What I was looking for, essentially, was any evidence at all that Parliament actually voted in favour of the Framwork Convention. I have found nothing whatsoever – which indicates that any such examination by Parliament never occurred. In which case, how can Milton (MP and a junior health minister) claim that the UK is legally bound to obey the WHO? As far as I can see, no decision was taken by Parliament that the WHO can dictate to the People of England (or Scotland, or Wales or Northern Ireland). Is it right that Our Queen can be declared by Milton MP to be subservient to the WHO? If Cameron persevers with Lansley MP and Milton MP in the Health Dept, he is as big an idiot as any of his predecessors or more so.

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Perhaps it was as well that I was unaware of the general treatment of treaties, otherwise I would have not been as thorough as I was. Anyway. let’s see where the investigation takes us.

First, we must bear two dates in mind all the time:

1. The signing of the Treaty:  between the 16th and the 22nd of June, 2003.

2. The ratification of the Treaty: 16th December 2004.

If we recall, the Ponsonby Rule states that a treaty, once signed, would be place ‘on the table’ for three weeks and then ratified, if there was no objection. The delay between signing and ratifying was some nineteen months in the case of the FCTC. We will see that some Parliamentary Holy  Zealots became rather worried about this delay, although it is not unlikely that the reason for the delay was probably that some of the countries which had also signed were a bit unhappy. But that is pure surmise on my part.

Initially, however, we can begin to see how the EU started to become involved. The first contribution, is a simple statement:

May 1989

Mrs Chalker (Foreign and commonwealth affairs).

The Health Council on 16 May will discuss: Europe against cancer programme, tobacco labelling, tar content in cigarettes, smoking in public places and advertising of tobacco products. It will also discuss cardio-vascular diseases, the prevention and control of AIDS, and drugs.

We can see that even as far back as 1989, discussions were taking place in the EU about smoking bans of various natures, but, apart from that, what is significant about that quote is the date 1989. I am sure that we are all aware that plans for Tobacco Control had already been made to a certain extent in preparation for the Millenium Goals  (these goals being ‘the eradication of poverty and disease throughout the world’ – which later morphed into the eradication of smokers). It was in 1989 that the training organisation known as Common Purpose was set up to train future leaders. I am not saying that there was anything wrong or underhand about that organisation – merely stating the fact. Already, in 1989, preparations for EU involvement in Tobacco Control were well  underway. Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) were in process of being formed, both in the UK and abroad. The purpose of these NGOs was to apply pressure to the right people in government and elsewhere in the interests of the Millenium Goals. Heaven alone knows who paid for all this activity. It must have cost a bomb. Be that as it may, it seems that the Common Purpose training group was set up to train leaders for these purposes.

In addition to our own Parliament, I am going to try, as best I can, to show those references in legislation, debates and written answers to questions by MPs, which illustrate EU involvement in Tobacco Control as talked of in Parliament. It is very, very difficult to find out what was going on in the Councils of Europe, and I don’t intend to try, but there are regular references here and there.

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Strangely enough, Hansard brought up very little about tobacco control in the period between the quote above and 1997. This may be because of the so-called ‘fuzzy’ search system which Hansard uses. The system looks for ‘relevance’ as well as the words put into the search box. I don’t know precisely how it works, to be honest.

I am going to take things in chronological order by year. We can start with this:

1997

December 

EU Council: Forthcoming Business

HL Deb 04 December 1997 vol 583 cc205-10WA205WA

[HL means ‘House of Lords’]

§Lord Williams of Elvel

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Whether they will list the forthcoming business in the Council of the European Union for December, and list major European Union events for the next six months.

§Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

December 4: Health Council.

Approval of the agenda.

Adoption of the list of A items.

Tobacco advertising: Common position.

Just a snippet from the House of Lords. Note the intention to create a common position in the EU on tobacco advertising. But what was going on behind the scenes regarding the other matters mentioned in the 1989 meeting – tobacco labelling, tar content in cigarettes, smoking in public places? I feel quite sure that an awful lot was going on!

Moving on, we will find that most of the quotes below are in the form of questions addressed to various Ministers by MPs. Most of the questions were written questions. Some quotes are from debates and speeches. My objective is to show how the impetus to compliance with the directives of the World Health Organisation arose. It is not a pretty picture.

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1998

December

Tobacco Advertising

HC Deb 02 December 1998 vol 321 c214W214W

[HC means House of Commons]

§Jackie Ballard

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has to promote global standards on tobacco advertising. [61912]

§Ms Jowell

I have been asked to reply.

Government officials will fully co-operate in the planning, scheduling and information-sharing that would accompany the development of an international framework convention for tobacco control, intended to facilitate and encourage member states to strengthen their own national tobacco control policies. They will liaise with relevant organisations in taking this forward. We hope that the forthcoming White Paper on Tobacco Control will provide a model in the development and operation of a framework convention.

As far as I can see, the above is the first clear mention in Parliament of the FCTC. The planned persecution of people who enjoy tobacco had started. A GLOBAL war against smokers was in the planning stage.

A thought occured to me that it might be amusing to start a Holy Zealot list of MPs. I can now start it.  I am not sure whether the Minister was actually a zealot or simply mouthing instrcutions, so I shall have two lists running, a) the names of the people who asked the leading questions and, b) the Ministers who answered (some of whom were junior minsiters answering on behalf of the the main Minister).

My list starts thus:

Year…………………MP…………………………………………..Minister.

1997………………..Jackie Ballard……………………………Ms. Jowell.

Later, I might need to introduce another catagory, that of anti-zealot, since one or two MPs did oppose.

December

Tobacco

HC Deb 15 December 1998 vol 322 cc455-6W456W

§Ms Osborne

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action he proposes to take to further the adoption of global standards on tobacco marketing. [64125]

§Ms Jowell

I have been asked to reply.

We will fully co-operate in the planning, scheduling and information-sharing that would accompany the development of an international framework convention for tobacco control, intended to facilitate and encourage member states to strengthen their own national tobacco control policies. We will liaise with relevant organisations in taking this forward. The White Paper ‘Smoking Kills’ signalled our willingness to co-operate and we hope it will provide a model in the development and operation of a framework convention.

Much the same as previous question.

Year…………………MP…………………………………………..Minister.

1997………………..Jackie Ballard……………………………Ms. Jowell.

1998……………….Ms Osborne……………………………….Ms Jowell.

1999

February

Tobacco Control

HC Deb 03 February 1999 vol 324 cc913-4913

§1.Mr. Cynog Dafis(Ceredigion)

What resources will be made available by her Department for organising negotiations to establish an international framework convention on tobacco control. [67502]

§The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development (Mr. George Foulkes)

We are concerned at the ways in which tobacco products are being promoted in developing countries and have offered our support to the World Health Organisation in its work on an international framework which includes a global ban on tobacco advertising. We particularly welcome the strong lead the new director general, Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, has taken on this issue. I can also confirm that our Department does not fund any activities that support the tobacco industry, but we do help farmers currently dependent on tobacco crops to diversify.

§Mr. Dafis

I thank the Minister for that reply, but does not his Department provide funds for the malaria project—the other priority, along with tobacco, identified by Dr. Brundtland? Is not it absolutely vital that the Department provides resources to enable her campaign against tobacco in the third world to take effect? Does not the Minister agree that it is deplorable that United Kingdom companies, especially British American Tobacco, should target the most vulnerable groups in third-world countries, trading in death and suffering and undermining development at the same time? Is not it important that the Government distance themselves from such organisations and put money into Dr. Brundtland’s campaign?

§Mr. Foulkes

I sympathise with what the hon. Gentleman has said. It is too early to know exactly what funding is needed for the campaign, but we stand ready to contribute to it. The hon. Gentleman is right to say that developing countries are being targeted by tobacco companies. That is especially unfortunate, as those countries have limited regulations to deal with tobacco and, because they lack the necessary health structures, are ill-equipped to handle the consequences. I assure the hon. Gentleman that we are doing what we can to discourage the targeting of developing countries.

§Dr. Norman A. Godman(Greenock and Inverclyde)

Is it not the case that the European Union subsidises tobacco growers to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds per annum? I know that it is not my hon. Friend’s responsibility, but should not the Government strive to reduce that obscene subsidy to the fat tobacco growers in the southern countries of the European Union?

§Mr. Foulkes

I think that my hon. Friend will have seen the Government’s White Paper entitled “Smoking Kills”, in which he will have read our comments about 914 the European Union subsidy for tobacco. The Government do not support it and we have made representations about it. However, although this Department does not have special responsibility for the matter, I shall draw my hon. Friend’s remarks to the Minister who has, and I know that they will be taken seriously into account.

§Mr. Ian Bruce(South Dorset)

Will the Minister look seriously at the conventions in this country governing what the tobacco companies do voluntarily? During the round-the-world Whitbread yacht race, the boat called Silk Cut, which carried no reference to tobacco on its structure, covered up its name in United Kingdom waters. A simple ban on advertising would not have prevented the company from showing that brand name or the names of other tobacco products. Therefore, before rushing ahead to ban advertising, will he consider carefully whether such a ban would be more effective than the conventions prevailing at present with the tobacco firms?

§Mr. Foulkes

The hon. Gentleman’s specific question relates to the United Kingdom, and could be better dealt with by one of my ministerial colleagues. However, the framework will be an international legal instrument circumscribing the global spread of tobacco products. It will include advertising, and it will take account of issues of the type raised by the hon. Gentleman. It is due to come into effect in 2003, but if we and other countries put a little more political will behind it, that could happen a lot earlier, as I would certainly wish.

§Mr. Ronnie Campbell(Blyth Valley)

Is there not a worry that if we stop the subsidy and prevent farmers from growing tobacco, they may move into other, more dangerous crops such as heroin and cannabis?

§Mr. Foulkes

That is certainly not the kind of diversification that I would suggest. I can reassure my hon. Friend that a World bank study has shown that the social and health costs of tobacco are far greater than the economic benefits. When it comes to substitutes, consumers are most likely to divert expenditure to other products, and that creates jobs. Those products are not the kind rightly identified by my hon. Friend as equally as dangerous—if not more so—as tobacco. So now the subsidising of tobacco cultivation in Europe has arisen! How embarrasing! There are the zealots, advocating tobacco control, when the EU is paying out subsidies to tobacco growers! But more about that will appear later – the Zealots always have a ready answer. Also notice the appearance of the poor, poor people of the third world, targetted by the nasty tobacco companies.

Interesting. Notice that the last two speakers are not very enthusiastic. I shall have to include a anti-zealot group in my list:

Year………..MP (Zealot)………………….Minister……………….MP (non-zealot).

1997……….Jackie Ballard……………….Ms. Jowell.

1998……….Ms Osborne…………………..Ms. Jowell.

1999………..C Dafis………………………….G Foulkes………………..I. Bruce.

………………N A Goodman………………G Foulkes………………..R. Campbell.

April

Tobacco Control

HC Deb 15 April 1999 vol 329 c337W337W

§Mr. Singh

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what level of financial and human resources has the Government committed in support of the work of the International Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. [80484].

Unfortunately, I have lost the reply to that question – I’ll have to find it again. But Singh’s name can go on the list.

April

Tobacco

HC Deb 10 June 1999 vol 332 c370W370W

§Jackie Ballard

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on tobacco consumption in the developing world. [86213]

§Clare Short

I view with great concern the estimate by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that, if current trends continue, tobacco will be the leading cause of disease burden in the world by 2030, causing about one in eight deaths, and that 70 per cent. of tobacco-related deaths will be in developing countries. I strongly support the priority being given to tobacco control by WHO through its “Tobacco Free” initiative, and the efforts to establish an international framework convention for tobacco control which, in particular, will aim to protect children and adolescents from exposure to tobacco products and their promotion. We are contributing £200,000 this financial year to the “Tobacco Free initiative”.

Hey Up! Claire Short has appeared, spouting the dodgy stats. I used to quite like Claire Short – I cannot see her writing stuff like the above – not her style. All the more reason to believe that Ministers surrender their souls to Tobacco Control when they accept office. The introduction of ‘children and adolescents’ is interesting.

July

Tobacco

HC Deb 13 July 1999 vol 335 cc102-3W102W

§Mr. Streeter

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, pursuant to paragraph 8.18 of the White Paper, “Smoking Kills,” what steps have been taken, and what funding has been provided, by her Department to help developing countries reduce tobacco dependence and help farmers dependent on tobacco crops to diversify. [91083]

§Mr. Foulkes

We fully support the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) “Tobacco Free” initiative and the development of an International Framework Convention (IFC) on tobacco control and have contributed £200,000 this financial year. The IFC is expected to set out detailed protocols on the range of measures, including agricultural diversification, which a country could usefully include in its tobacco reduction strategy. Development funds are not used for any purpose which identifiably supports the tobacco sector. Our programmes have explored alternative livelihood opportunities for poor farmers in countries where tobacco is a significant crop.

§Mr. Streeter

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps she is taking to prevent children in the developing world being exposed to tobacco advertising. [91191]

103W

§Mr. Foulkes

In our White Papers on “International Development” and “Tobacco” we clearly state our commitment to working with other governments to achieve a global ban on tobacco advertising and to support an International Framework Convention (IFC) code of conduct for transnational companies advertising tobacco products. We have provided the World Health Organisation (WHO) with £200,000 towards work this year. The universal ban we are working towards, therefore, addresses the issue of children’s exposure to advertising in the developed and developing world.

More about the third world. Shame about the poor farmers….. What’s £200 grand here or there? Let them grow opium, then we can have a real war. But the Zealots have not finished with the poor farmers yet – there is more to come.

July

Tobacco

HC Deb 14 July 1999 vol 335 c224W224W

§Mr. Streeter

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps her Department is taking to prevent growth in the number of deaths due to smoking in the developing world.

§Mr. Foulkes

We view with great concern the estimate by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that, if current trends continue, tobacco will be the leading cause of disease burden by 2030, causing about one in eight deaths, and that 70 per cent. of tobacco-related deaths will be in developing countries. We strongly support the priority given to tobacco control by WHO through its “Tobacco Free” initiative, and the efforts to establish an International Framework Convention (ITC) for tobacco control.

§Mr. Streeter

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps her Department is taking to work towards a global ban on tobacco advertising. [91199]

§Mr. Foulkes

We are committed to co-operating with other Governments in the establishment of an International Framework Convention (IFC) on tobacco control, which includes advertising. We have indicated our support to the World Health Organisation (WHO), who are co-ordinating this work and are discussing with them Britain’s role in the first intergovernmental meeting to discuss the development of the framework. We are contributing £200,000 this financial year to WHO’s “Tobacco Free” initiative.

Right, Mr Foulkes…………£200 grand is peanuts. But who was paying the vast sums needed for the training of future zealots and the setting up of NGOs, Eh?

That concludes 1999 – a busy year for Tobacco Control. A few more names to add to the list:

Year………MP (Zealot)………………….Minister………………MP (non-zealot).

1997………Jackie Ballard……………….Ms. Jowell.

1998………Ms Osborne…………………..Ms. Jowell.

1999……….C Dafis………………………….G Foulkes…………..I. Bruce.

………………N A Goodman………………G Foulkes……………R. Campbell.

………………………Mr Singh……………..Clair Short.

……………………..Mr Streeter.

2000

April

In the year 2000, the Zealots really started to pile on the pressure, but we start with an MP who was not pro tobacco control:

Tobacco

HC Deb 03 April 2000 vol 347 cc342-3W342W

§Mr. Cummings

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what mandate he has given to the European Commission to negotiate on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government in meetings on the World Health Organisation’s Convention for Tobacco Control; [114944]

(2) what estimates he has made of the impact on (a) employment and (b) exports of the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention for Tobacco Control, indicating the constituencies affected in each case; [114940]

(3) what recent discussions (a) he, (b) Ministers in his Department and (c) officials have had with (i) EU partners, (ii) other nations, (iii) the World Health Organisation and (iv) the European Commission regarding the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention for Tobacco Control; [114943]

(4) if he will make a statement on the position of Her Majesty’s Government in relation to the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention for Tobacco Control. [114941]

§Yvette Cooper

The White Paper “Smoking Kills” makes clear our strong support for the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The first and current phase in the 343W development of the convention is to consult the 191 World Health Member States for their views on the Convention and its protocols. The second phase will cover negotiations on the content of the Convention.

The United Kingdom has been, and will continue to be, an active participant in the European Union and WHO working groups, which are the main bodies for taking forward work on the Convention, and in bilateral discussions with the Commission, WHO and other member states. The Commission’s mandate for participation on issues where it has a legal competence, was developed by the EU’s Health Working Group and reported to the EU Health Ministers at the Health Council in November 1999. The Commission’s mandate will be kept under review as the work develops.

It is too early to say what the likely impact of the Convention on employment and exports will be, as this depends on the content of the Convention, which is yet to be negotiated. However, the World Bank’s recent study on tobacco control “Curbing the Epidemic” concludes that adopting effective tobacco control policies would result in no net job losses in most countries, and even a net gain in some.

Yvette Cooper has appeared, and a new zealot. Who writes these answers for the Ministers?! They all sound the same and none of them sound like human beings. Have you noticed that, reader? The answers from all the ministers sound like the answers of zombies! Another Minister has surrendered her soul. But there is the World Bank – ‘Curbing the Epidemic’ indeed! The Holy Zealots have even infiltrated the World Financial System. No wonder the Euro is in trouble…… Looking at the Minister’s answer, do we see the developing storm? Tobacco Control is extending itself further and further, and deeper and deeper into the legislative bodies of the whole of Europe. I don’t suppose that they were idle in the rest of the world either.

The next record is a memo from the Health Dept. I’ve no idea to whom it was addressed – it just ‘appeared’ in response to a search. I can’t remember what the search was:

Select Committee on Health Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence
APPENDIX 30

Supplementary memorandum by the Department of Health

A NOTE ON THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION’S FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON TOBACCO CONTROL (TB 1C)

Dr Gro Harlem Bruntland, Director General of WHO has made tobacco control one of her top priorities. “Smoking Kills” welcomed the priority she has given to this subject and warmly welcomed WHO’s proposed Convention on tobacco control, an international treaty to combat tobacco use along the lines of recent global environmental treaties. The Convention is likely to be a statement of broad principles, and will be supplemented by a number of detailed protocols, which will contain more detailed policy commitments. Possible subjects of protocols include combating tobacco advertising and sponsorship, testing and regulation of tobacco products, agricultural diversification, pricing policies, labelling and cessation.

The World Health Assembly in May 1999 officially agreed that WHO should establish an inter-governmental negotiating body to draft and negotiate a framework. A meeting at official level took place in October 1999; a further official level meeting will take place in late March 2000. Negotiations at Member State level are planned to commence in May 2000. WHO intend to agree a Convention by the World Health Assembly in May 2003.

17 March 2000

 

Notice that there is no mention of smoking bans in ‘enclosed public places’.

More now re the EU involvement:

July

Health Council [EU]

HC Deb 28 July 2000 vol 354 cc978-9W978W

§Mr. Jim Marshall

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the outcome was of the Health Council held in Brussels on 29 June; and if he will make a statement. [129300]

§Ms Stuart

I attended the Health Council on 29 June in Luxembourg on behalf of the United Kingdom.

The items in the table were discussed.

979W

Agenda item  Issue  UK position  Outcome 
7. WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control  Update on developments on the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control  UK supports the objective of the Convention in securing global action to support national initiatives  Oral report from Commissioner Byrne, underlining the need for co-ordinated action in line with the Commission’s negotiating mandate. There was no discussion on this item 

 

September

And again, re the EU (this time, in the House of Lords):

Health Council, Luxembourg

HL Deb 27 September 2000 vol 616 cc191-3WA191WA

§Lord Dormand of Easington

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Agenda Item  Issue  UK Position  Outcome 
(1) Approval of provisional agenda       
(2) Approval of “A” points       
(3) Proposal for a directive on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the member states concerning the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco products (recast)  To agree a revised text on a proposal for a directive regarding the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco products. The directive consolidates and strengthens three previous directives. It would reduce tar and nicotine yields and introduces a new maximum carbon monoxide yield for all cigarettes manufactured in the EU; increase the size of health warnings and toughen them; ban misleading descriptions such as “light” and “mild”; and require and publicise information on additives.  The UK supports the revised text. Commissioner Byrne outlined the proposal and a compromise text, containing the European Parliament’s amendments, was tabled. Common position was reached, despite Germany voting against and Austria, Spain and Luxembourg abstaining. 

We can see that the High Priests in the EU and the Dept of Health are now winding themselves up. The ‘anti’ is being upped.

October

The next part is really interesting. An MP plucks up the courage to question the Zealots! These questions are written questions. We should note the brevity of the replies, in contast to the generous nature of replies to MPs who were fellow travellers of Tobacco Control.

Tobacco Control

HC Deb 23 October 2000 vol 355 cc83-4W83W

§Mr. Cummings

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the impact on UK tobacco manufacturers of the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control. [133831]

§Yvette Cooper

It is too early to say what the likely impact of the Convention on employment and exports will be, as this depends on the content of the Convention, which is yet to be negotiated. Provisional texts of draft elements for the Convention have been drawn up and are being considered at the First Session of the Inter Governmental Negotiating Body in Geneva between 16–21 October. Negotiations are unlikely to be concluded before 2002.

§Mr. Cummings

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will conduct an economic impact assessment of the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control; and if he will make a statement. [133835]

§Yvette Cooper

It is too early to do this at present but we will do so when we have a clearer idea of what commitments the UK may wish to enter into.

§Mr. Cummings

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions he has had with the World Health Organisation about the private sector funding of its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control; and if he will list those companies which have contributed. [133832]

§Yvette Cooper

We have had no such discussions.

84W

§Mr. Cummings

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what Her Majesty’s Government’s objectives are in discussions on the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control; and if he will make a statement. [133884]

§Yvette Cooper

We support the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and believe that it can help to reduce the damage to health caused by tobacco products worldwide. The WHO estimates that tobacco kills four million people each year and that this figure is likely to increase substantially, particularly in the developing world.

The United Kingdom intends to play an active part in negotiating a convention which in particular will: make a difference by imposing obligations on its signatories, but which is not so ambitious that few countries sign up;tackles areas where international action is necessary and which can impact on consumption in the UK—in particular advertising and smuggling;supports other countries in developing tobacco control strategies;does not impose over-prescriptive obligations in areas which we consider to be for national decisions.

§Mr. Cummings

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what meetings he has held in preparation for the negotiations on the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control. [133882]

§Yvette Cooper

Ministers have consulted colleagues from other countries. Officials have participated in all WHO and European Union preparatory meetings on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

§Mr. Cummings

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the impact of the adoption of the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control on jobs in each constituency. [133826]

§Yvette Cooper

It is too early to say what the likely impact of the Convention on employment and exports will be, as this depends on the content of the Convention, which is yet to be negotiated.

§Mr. Cummings

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions he has had with UK tobacco companies about the economic impact on companies and the communities in which they are located of the possible adoption of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. [133833]

§Yvette Cooper

We have had no such discussions.

We can begin to see just how tightly wrapped up the Zealots were in their own tiny bubble. They were pressing ahead with comprehensive bans without having even thought about the economic consequences!

November

Mr Cummings has another go at Yvette Cooper:

Tobacco Control

HC Deb 24 November 2000 vol 357 c353W353W

§Mr. Cummings

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what mandate has been given to those negotiating on behalf of the European Union on the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control; and if he will list the ways in which the objectives differ from those of Her Majesty’s Government. [133883]

§Yvette Cooper

The United Kingdom Government have agreed with their European Union partners and with the European Commission which are the areas of the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control where the Commission has competence to negotiate on behalf of the European Union and which are the responsibility of national Governments. The Commission’s negotiating mandate is based on Articles 95 (internal market) and 152 (public health); however, this will be kept under review as the work develops. Where the Commission has competence, we will work with it and with our partners with a view to reaching consensus on a negotiating position.

We have reached the end of the year 2000. Time to update our Zealots list:

Year……..MP (Zealot)………………….Minister…………..MP (non-zealot).

1997…….Jackie Ballard……………….Ms. Jowell.

1998…….Ms Osborne…………………..Ms. Jowell.

1999……..C Dafis…………………………G Foulkes…………I. Bruce.

…………….N A Goodman………………G Foulkes………….R. Campbell.

…………….Mr Singh……………………..Clair Short.

…………….Mr Streeter.

2000…….J Marshall…………………..Yvette Cooper……..Mr. Cummings.

2001

January

We start the new year with a report about the EU:

EU Health Council

HC Deb 08 January 2001 vol 360 cc438-41W438W

§Mr. Jim Marshall

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the outcome of the Health Council held in Brussels on 14 December. [143618]

§Ms Stuart

I attended the Health Council in Brussels on 14 December with Jane Hutt, Minister for Health and Social Services for he National Assembly for Wales A summary of outcome of the meeting is in the table.

439W

Health Council—14 December 2000 
  Agenda item  Issue  UK position  Outcome 
6b  Tobacco Labelling Directive.  This Directive recasts three existing Internal Market Directives concerning the tar content of cigarettes, oral tobacco and labelling of tobacco products and updates these provisions in the light of recent scientific developments in this field. Commnon Position was reached at the June Health Council. The text has been undergoing its second reading. Compromise proposals were put forward to the Parliament but no agreement was reached.  The UK gave its strong support to the proposed Directive and warmly welcomed the Common Position agreed at the Health Council in June. The Directive complements UK proposed UK domestic legislation well. The UK’s response to the Parliament’s amendments is being considered.  The Parliament voted on the amendments on 13 December and therefore there was not enough time for the Council to agree its position. The text will now be considered under the Swedish Presidency and is likely lo go to Conciliation. 
6c WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.  The FCTC is WHO’s first attempt at using its powers to establish a global treaty. Following a period of information collection, the negotiations began in October. A mandate was agreed to allow the Commission to negotiate in areas of EU competence.  The UK supports and is fully participating in the negotiations.  Commissioner Byrne commented on the need to revisit the negotiating mandate with a view to incorporating further areas of Community competence (e.g. taxation). 

Hello, there’s Mr Marshall again, nicely preparing the way for…….:

January

TOBACCO ADVERTISING AND PROMOTION BILL

HC Deb 22 January 2001 vol 361 cc654-754654

§[Relevant documents: The Second Report of the Health Committee, Session 1999–2000, on The Tobacco Industry and the Health Risks of Smoking, HC 27-I, and the Government’s response thereto, Cm 4905.]

Without concerted efforts to create an international agreement, it will take much longer to end other types of sporting sponsorship. At the world health assembly, 191 countries agreed to commence negotiations on the framework convention on tobacco control. That offers encouragement for an international effort.

Unfortunately for Tobacco Control, the Bill had to be abandoned for the time being. There was much nashing of teeth. The reason was that the European Court of Justice had struck down EU plans on the grounds that the EU was introducing its plans under the general heading of ‘trade’, in which case their plans would be unlawful under the constitution. If they wanted to introduce their tobacco advertising plans, they would have to come under ‘health’. A long delay ensued and much debating took place. Holy Zealots were out in force in both Houses of Parliament.

I have had a quick look at the debating, but the whole thing is much too long to reproduce here. Later, when I have time, I’ll plod through and add multiple names to the list of zealots. Remember that the list is not the same thing at all as a list of which MPs voted for or against – those people may have simply voted as directed by the whips. The names that I want are those of the speakers; those who quoted false statistics and propaganda. Suffice to say that the enactment of the Bill was delayed until November 2002, becoming an ACT only on 7th November that year.

November

Not a lot happened as regards the FCTC throughout the rest of the year until November:

Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill [H.L.]

HL Deb 02 November 2001 vol 627 cc1646-710

 I say to the noble Earl, Lord Howe, that no mixed messages are emanating from the Government. As my noble friend Lady Jay pointed out, we laid down, right from the start of this Government, a strong commitment to reduce smoking in this country. That is why we commissioned the White Paper, Smoking Kills, and set targets to reduce smoking. That is why we are the only country in the world to have established a national network of comprehensive smoking cessation services. That is why we have launched a comprehensive tobacco education campaign and a helpline. And that is why the UK is taking a leading role in negotiations towards the World Health Organisation’s framework convention on tobacco control.

I agree with my noble friend Lady Jay, who said that the Government’s action has sent a strong message internationally. That is particularly the case with regard to the problems that she specified relating to the developing world.

There’s the ‘developing world again – part of the justification for the coming persecution of smokers.

2002

 February.

Health Council

HC Deb 25 February 2002 vol 380 cc938-40W938W

§Mr. Hood

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the outcome was of the Health Council held in Brussels on 15 November; what the Government’s stance was on each issue discussed, including its voting record; and if he will make a statement. [16530]

§Ms Blears

My right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Health represented the United Kingdom.

Commissioner Byrne gave an update on preparations for the next round of negotiations on the World Health Organisation framework convention on tobacco control. He indicated that the Community position on agriculture subsidies would need to be updated to take account of references to phasing out of tobacco subsidies in the communication to Gothenburg on sustainable development. The planned Commission communication on ‘Health and Poverty policy’ will help pave the way for financial support for implementation of the convention in developing countries.

Oops! There are the developing countries again – all for the sake of. But note how a solution to the question of subsidies for tobacco growing in the EU is beginning to emerge. More regarding that will appear later. Hard to say whether Mr Hood was friend or foe.

March

EU Health Council, [meeting of 15 November 2001]

HL Deb 01 March 2002 vol 631 cc262-3WA262WA

§Baroness Gale

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What the outcome was of the Health Council held in Brussels on 15 November; what the Government’s stance was on each issue discussed, including their voting record. [HL2964]

§Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Health (Mr Hutton) represented the United Kingdom.

Commissioner Byrne gave an update on preparations for the next round of negotiations on the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. He indicated that the Community position on agriculture subsidies would need to be updated to take account of references to phasing out of tobacco subsidies in the communication to Gothenburg on sustainable development. The planned Commission communication on “Health and Poverty policy” will help to pave the way for financial support for implementation of the convention in developing countries.

Ha, ha! There we are. What to do about the problem of tobacco subsidies in the EU! They are not tobacco subsidies any more – they are agricultural subsidies! New subsidies will be related to ‘sustainable development’. Also, more money going down the drain for financial support for implementation of the convention in developing countries. Wonderful what you can do with other people’s money, isn’t it? Now we know why we are still giving aid to countries like India and China.

July

More EU:

Health Council

HC Deb 23 July 2002 vol 389 cc1087-8W1087W

§Mr. Hood

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the outcome was of the Health Council held on 26 June; what the Government’s stance was on each issue discussed, including its voting record; and if he will make a statement. [67732]

§Mr. Hutton

I represented the UK at the Health Council in Luxembourg on 26 June 2002.

During discussions of the framework convention on tobacco control, the Commission along with the incoming Danish presidency, urged member states to be flexible to allow the adoption of a strong European Union position for the next round of negotiations in Geneva in October. Some member states called for high level political input to seek to avoid adoption of a position that simply represented the lowest common denominator. The United Kingdom remains a supporter of a strong and effective convention.

July

EU Health Council, Luxembourg, [date of meeting 26 June 2002]

HL Deb 24 July 2002 vol 638 cc83-4WA84WA

§Baroness Lockwood

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What was the outcome of the Health Council held on 26 June; and what their stance was on each issue discussed, including their voting record. [HL5539]

§The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath)

My right honourable friend the Minister for Health (Mr Hutton) represented the United Kingdom at the Health Council in Luxembourg on 26 June 2002.

During discussions of the framework convention on tobacco control, the commission, along with the incoming Danish Presidency, urged member states to be flexible to allow the adoption of a strong European Union position for the next round of negotiations in Geneva in October. Some member states called for high level political input to seek to avoid adoption of a position that simply represented the lowest common denominator. The United Kingdom remains a supporter of a strong and effective convention.

Essentially a repeat of the previous entry.

October

Some clever stuff from the EU here. Note how the remit of the Health Council has been widened to include employment, social policy and comsumer affairs. I wonder how that little conjuring trick was done? Notice who represented the UK (not health people).

Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (Meeting of 8 October)

HL Deb 24 October 2002 vol 639 cc116-7WA116WA

§Lord Graham of Edmonton

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What was the outcome of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council held on 8 October in Luxembourg. [HL6134]

§The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Hollis of Heigham)

This was the first meeting of the new Council formation as reconfigured at Seville. Its relatively light agenda was weighted towards employment and social policy issues. There were no consumer affairs dossiers on the agenda, and only one health item was tabled. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, accompanied by my right honourable friend the Minister of State for Employment Relations and the Regions, represented the UK.

In relation to health issues, the Council discussed the advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products elements of the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The Council agreed on how to proceed in light of the forthcoming negotiating round (the fifth) of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body in Geneva (14–25 October 2002). 

Is it any wonder that the EU is in a mess? Our reps went to talk about work and pensions and finished up talking about tobacco.

So endeth 2002.

2003

During the first part of 2003, not a chirrup was heard in Parliament from the zealots. Not a word passed their lips. Not surprising, really, since the die is about to be cast. We have, however, a few more EU reports. (I rather suspect that these reports are a formality. The lack of discussion indicates strongly that they were written questions, to which the replies would simply be put into the Common library for anyone to read who was interested).

January

Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council

HL Deb 30 January 2003 vol 643 cc176-88WA176WA

Lord Acton

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What was the outcome of the meeting of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council held on 3 December: and what the Government’s stance was on the issues discussed, including their voting record. [HL1410]

§The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath)

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health represented the United Kingdom for the health element of the first day of the Employment, Social 177WA Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council in Brussels on 2 December 2002; the consumer affairs items were also taken on that day.

The main health business of this Council related to tobacco. The Council reached qualified majority on a first reading deal on the Tobacco Advertising Directive. My right honourable friend emphasised that the UK supports European Union legislation on tobacco advertising, having strong domestic legislation in place. He made clear the Government’s determination to ensure that the legal victories secured by the tobacco companies over previous European legislation would not be repeated with this directive. He therefore voted against the directive because he did not think that the drafting of some provisions was good enough or that it went as far as it could in some areas (for example, by not covering cigarette papers).

A Council recommendation on the prevention of smoking and on initiatives to improve tobacco control was adopted by a qualified majority, with support from the UK. The Commission also gave an update on the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Is the bold stuff the root of recent claims by ASH ET AL about tobacco companies’ ‘unfair’ legal tactics? A ‘qualified majority’? So not everybody agreed then……….

May

This looks like a written question:

 Framework Convention for Tobacco Control

HC Deb 16 May 2003 vol 405 cc493-4W494W

§John Robertson

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions his Department is having with(a) the World bank and (b) the German Government regarding the contents of the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control. [113111]

§Mr. MacShane

There have been no regular discussions between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the World bank about the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. However, other Whitehall Departments have had discussions with the World bank on this subject. Officials in our embassies in the EU and in the UK Permanent Representation to the EU have been in frequent contact with colleagues from other EU member states, including Germany, in an effort to secure the adoption of the text of the Convention.

So how does the World Bank come into this matter? There are suggestions elsewhere that the reason for it was that the World Bank was to report on economic effects thoughout the world of curtailing tobacco production, but I have not seen any reports. I should imagine that such reports were for the WHO. However, we can easily deduce how the World Bank could be used by Zealots to influence the decisions of countries regarding tobacco control by insisting that loans and subsidies for ‘agricultural puposes’ could be link to the curtailment of tobacco.

May

Another written question:

 Framework Convention for Tobacco Control

HC Deb 20 May 2003 vol 405 c740W740W

§John Robertson

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions his Department is having with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on (a) the contents of and (b) international support for the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control. [113110]

§Ms Blears

The Government have participated in negotiations on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and have sought views on the content of this Convention from other Departments, including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, throughout the negotiating process. Officials are in contact with those in Brussels and Geneva and with embassies in those countries which have concerns with the text, to work towards satisfactory adoption of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control at the World Health Assembly later this month.

§John Robertson

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions he is having with (a) the British Medical Association, (b) his European counterparts and (c) others regarding international measures to reduce smoking. [113109]

§Ms Blears

The Department has received representations from the British Medical Association and others in support of international measures to reduce smoking. In particular, recent representations have focused on the draft Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which is due to be adopted at the World Health Assembly later this month. Discussions within the European Union are focused on preparing a common position in support of the adoption of the Convention at the World Health Assembly. As part of this, my right hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Health, has discussed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control with a German Health Minister. The Government have been firmly supportive of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, as have most other EU countries.

And another:

Framework Convention for Tobacco Control

HC Deb 21 May 2003 vol 405 cc853-4W853W

§Chris Grayling

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the state of negotiations over the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control, and his policy on it. [112841]

§Ms Blears

Negotiations first began on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2000 and the final negotiating round concluded on 1 March 2003 with the production of a draft text for transmission to the World Health Assembly. The text is due to be agreed by consensus at the World Health Assembly. The Government indicated its support for this World Health854W Organisation initiative in the 1998 White Paper, Smoking Kills. Since then, the Government has been firmly committed to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and the Government intends to support its adoption.

And another:

Framework Convention for Tobacco Control

HC Deb 21 May 2003 vol 405 cc853-4W853W

§Chris Grayling

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the state of negotiations over the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control, and his policy on it. [112841]

§Ms Blears

Negotiations first began on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2000 and the final negotiating round concluded on 1 March 2003 with the production of a draft text for transmission to the World Health Assembly. The text is due to be agreed by consensus at the World Health Assembly. The Government indicated its support for this World Health854W Organisation initiative in the 1998 White Paper, Smoking Kills. Since then, the Government has been firmly committed to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and the Government intends to support its adoption.

And a final written question:

Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council

HC Deb 20 June 2003 vol 407 cc504-6W505W

§Mr. Hood

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the outcome was of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council on 2–3 June; what the Government’s stance was on the issues discussed, including its voting record; and if he will make a statement. [117558]

§Maria Eagle

My hon. Friend, then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health (David Lammy), represented the UK for the Health element of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council in Luxembourg on 2 June.

The Council adopted a proposal which will enable member states to sign the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The UK voted in favour of this proposal.

The important thing there is to note the date, because:

BETWEEN THE 16TH AND THE 22ND OF JUNE, 2003, THE UK GOVERNMENT SIGNED THE FRANKWORK CONVENTION ON TOBACCO CONTROL TREATY.

People who have read the foregoing will have observed that, despite lots of hysteria from the Zealots, the House of Commons never actually discussed the contents of the FCTC Treaty. By the way, we can note that the USA signed the treaty, but have not TO THIS DAY ratified it. Why not? Well, would the US Senate agree for one moment to be legally bound by the dictats of the UN? You must be joking!

I must reiterate again here that the UK Government is under no obligation to get the apporoval of Parliament before signing treaties. The practice is for the Government to put a copy of the treaty ‘on the table’ (presumably, in the Commons library) for any MP interested to look at. After three weeks, if no one objects, the treaty can be ratified without further ado. Objection would have to be reasonably serious in the sense that the objection is raised by the one of the opposition parties, in which case time would be found for discussion in the Commons (or/and, possibly, the Lords).

Undated

I cannot resist publishing the next titbit of information. I found it somehow, but cannot now date it, although it was about this time, but it must have come after the treaty had been signed, as can be seen from the bold text:

Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence.

So now the Science and Technology Committee has been dragged in. Read this Annex and marvel at the quackery of Tobacco Control.

Annex 1 

WHO FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON TOBACCO CONTROL (FCTC)

HOW SATISFACTORY ARE THE EXISTING ARRANGEMENTS AND HOW COULD THESE ARRANGEMENTS BE IMPROVED?

31. The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) has not yet entered into force. It was adopted in May 2003 and the UK (along with the EC) signed in June. We can, therefore, only refer at this stage to scientific input into the negotiation of the treaty.

32. The FCTC is based on policies, such as banning advertising of tobacco products and introducing appropriate taxation policies, which are internationally recognised as being effective. As a framework, it is designed to be supplemented by protocols.

HOW IS THE NEED FOR SCIENTIFIC ADVICE RECOGNISED?

33. The need for scientific advice has been recognised through a variety of means:

— WHO leadership: Dr Brundtland, the Director-General of WHO, called for scientific evidence to be used as a basis for regulating tobacco products. Dr Danzon, Regional Director of WHO for Europe, also emphasised the need for sound evidence to form the basis of tobacco control policies. In response a technical conference was held in Norway in 2000;

— Establishing formal mechanisms for providing expert advice: The World Health Organisation’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Tobacco Regulation (SACTob) was established. It met for the first time in October 2000 and has continued to produce recommendations throughout the period of negotiations on the FCTC;

— Supportive statements in the FCTC: The final text of the Convention includes language in the preamble “determined to promote measures of tobacco control based on current and relevant scientific, technical and economic considerations.” A general obligation of the FCTC is to provide comprehensive multisectoral tobacco control policies, involving civil society. This allows for scientific opinion to feed into the process.

TO WHAT EXTENT DOES SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION AND EVIDENCE GO THROUGH A PEER-REVIEW/QUALITY CONTROL PROCESS?

34. The overall harm caused by tobacco and tobacco smoke was not in question during negotiations on the FCTC. The evidence base on which the international agreement has been built has been widely accepted through peer-review journals and expert panels, authoritative bodies, for example the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

HOW SHOULD INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS DEAL WITH SCIENTIFIC UNCERTAINTY HAVING REGARD TO A PRECAUTIONARY APPROACH?

35. As for other issues, application of the precautionary principle needs to be on a case-by-case basis. However, in the case of tobacco it is not relevant since there is no scientific uncertainty and the product itself is known to be highly dangerous when (uniquely for a legal product) used as the manufacturer intends.

HOW ARE COMPETING VIEWS ON SCIENTIFIC ISSUES ADDRESSED AND INCORPORATED INTO AGREEMENTS AND IMPLEMENTATION OF AGREEMENTS?

36. There is consensus at governmental level and in the expert community about the harm tobacco products cause to health. In response to Governments’ efforts to regulate tobacco, the tobacco industry has raised questions about the harm caused, or the degree to which tobacco and tobacco smoke is harmful. The FCTC is based on the consensus that scientific evidence demonstrates tobacco products are harmful.

37. Negotiations on protocols to supplement the FCTC will look at more detailed areas of policies. Article 9 of the FCTC provides for the Conference of Parties to propose guidelines on the testing of products. We envisage that this sort of negotiation would require further scientific and technical input. We would expect for this, and other areas of real contention, independent expert groups to advise.

WHAT ROLE DOES THE SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY IN THE UNITED KINGDOM PLAY IN CONTRIBUTING TO THE SCIENTIFIC INPUT USED IN FORMULATING, APPLYING AND IMPLEMENTING INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS, AND HOW MIGHT THAT ROLE BE ENHANCED?

38. The Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health is an advisory body to the Chief Medical Officers. Advice provided on national matters can input into views on international agreements and forms the basis of the UK’s position on scientific issues.

39. Academics and NGOs have taken part in conferences hosted with the aim of inputting into the FCTC.

40. The UK academic and scientific community already has a strong voice and role in international tobacco control including the science underpinning the FCTC.

IN AREAS WHERE THE EU HAS ASSUMED COMPETENCE TO NEGOTIATE INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS, WHAT ARRANGEMENTS ARE IN PLACE TO ENSURE THAT THE EU’S POSITION IS BASED ON AN APPROPRIATE SCIENTIFIC FOUNDATION?

41. In the case of tobacco, provisions to ensure that the EU’s position is based on appropriate scientific foundation are contained in the Community legislation. For example, the EU has had competence to negotiate on matters of tobacco product content and labelling, within the current Community acquis. The relevant Directive provides for a review in light of future scientific developments and an expert committee has been established to advise the European Commission.

The so-called ‘scientific evidence’ can only refer to epidemiological studies. There had been NO experimental evidence (with animals, for example) which proved that smoking tobacco was signigicantly harmful. Evidence in the McTear case amply shows that to be true. The above statement is so un-scientific that it is hard to believe that the Scientific Committee even saw the statement, never mind originated it.

The list grows:

Year……MP (Zealot)………………….Minister…………….MP (non-zealot).

1997……Jackie Ballard……………….Ms. Jowell.

1998……Ms Osborne…………………..Ms. Jowell.

1999……C Dafis………………………….G Foulkes………….I. Bruce.

………….N A Goodman………………G Foulkes……………R. Campbell.

………….Mr Singh……………………..Clair Short.

………….Mr Streeter.

2000…..J Marshall…………………….Yvette Cooper……..Mr. Cummings.

2001/2/3.Lord Dormand…………….Ms Stuart.

……………..Lord Howe.

……………..Mr Hood…………………….Lord Hunt.

……………..Lady Jay.

……………..Baroness Gale………………Mr Hutton.

……………..Baroness Lockwood.

……………..Lord Graham………………Baroness Hollis.

…………….John Robertson…………..Mr MacShane.

……………………..Chris Grayling…….Maria Eagles.

As far as I can see, no reference was made to the FCTC until September 2003:

September

Smoking

HC Deb 08 September 2003 vol 410 cc262-4W262W

§Chris Grayling

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his policy is on the future use of the terms light and mild on cigarette packets. [127737]

§Miss Melanie Johnson

The Government recognise that certain terms can be used to suggest that one tobacco product is less harmful than another. We are therefore committed to banning the use of “misleading descriptors.”

The Tobacco Products (Manufacture, Presentation and Sale) (Safety) Regulations 2002 prohibit the supply of tobacco products, “the packaging of which carries any name, brand name, text, trademark or pictorial or any other representation or sign which suggests that that tobacco product is less harmful to health than other tobacco products.” The supply of such cigarette packets must cease as of 30 September 2003.

The Government would expect the prohibition to include terms such as “light” and “mild”.

 

§Chris Grayling

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to pilot the scheme running at hospitals in Norwich to help patients following the ban on smoking in the hospitals. [127691]

§Dr. Ladyman

The Department of Health has no plans to pilot national smoking prevention schemes. With the changes under “Shifting the Balance of Power”, it is now for strategic health authorities and their primary care trusts to introduce smoke-free policies.

The Chief Medical Officer’s annual report recommended to Government, that among other recommendations, employers should plan to introduce smoke free workplaces; the public sector and health service should take the lead and this year set dates by which their premises will become entirely smoke free.

The Department of Health are also running a pilot study, led by St. George’s hospital, to look into developing a toolkit of introducing a smoking cessation service/policy within hospitals. The results of this study should be available in 2005. We have also asked the British Thoracic Society to undertake a survey of hospitals to see what smoking policies they have introduced.

§Chris Grayling

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the recommendations of the Chief Medical Officer in relation to smoking in public places. [127631]

§Miss Melanie Johnson

The Chief Medical Officer’s report should leave no-one in any doubt that secondhand smoke is an important public health issue, and the Government are looking very closely at the Chief 263W Medical Officer’s recommendations. We wish to ensure real progress is being made in the availability of smoke-free public places.

In our 1998 White paper, “Smoking Kills”, we agreed that completely smoke-free places are the ideal. The World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which the UK signed in June 2003, also called for action to protect people from tobacco smoke. Taking action on smoking in the workplace and in public places is an important element of international best practice in tobacco control.

We also want to increase the public’s awareness of the real health risks from second-hand smoke: not merely the discomfort caused by being in a smoky atmosphere. That is why we have launched an education campaign, making everyone aware of the need to protect others, particularly children, from the harm caused by second-hand smoke. From 1 April 2003. the Department of Health has also taken a lead in making all our buildings smoke-free and we will be encouraging others to follow this lead.

to support the national Priorities and Planning Framework (PPF) target to reduce the rate of smoking contributing to the national target of: reducing the rate in manual groups from 32 per cent. in 1998 to 26 per cent. by 2010; 800,000 smokers from all groups successfully quitting at the four week stage by 2006″.

 

§Chris Grayling

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much the Government has spent centrally on smoking cessation advertising and awareness campaigns since 1995; and what central allocatio§Chris Grayling

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what basis the Government used for establishing smoking cessation targets for primary care trusts. [127623]

§Miss Melanie Johnson

There are national targets. Primary care trusts (PCTs) have not been set smoking cessation targets. PCTs were asked to plan together with their strategic health authorities low ns have been made in the current year. [128233]

§Miss Melanie Johnson

International evidence shows that key elements in any tobacco control strategy are advertising and public education. In the 1998 White Paper, “Smoking Kills”, the Government committed itself to a programme of public education to persuade smokers to quit and non-smokers not to start.

Education and media campaign spending is shown in the table.

Year  £ millions 
1995–96  5.5 
1996–97  6.5 
1997–98  16.5 
1998–99  2.7 
1999–2000  15.9 
2000–01  13.73 
2001–02  13.3 
2002–03  13.0 
2003–04  114.2

Note:

1 Expenditure to date

264W

 

This funding includes expenditure on telephone helplines per annum for the NHS Smoking Helpline—£1.1 million; the NHS pregnancy smoking helpline—£152,000; and the NHS Asian Tobacco Helpline—£78,500. £15 million over the three years from 2003–04 to 2005–06 will be available to key health charities, beginning with the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK to develop hard-hitting messages on the dangers of smoking.

§Chris Grayling

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much the Government have spent centrally on smoking cessation programmes in each year since 1997; and how much has been allocated in the current year. [128234]

§Miss Melanie Johnson

The national health service stop smoking services were launched in 1999. The services received a total of £76 million over a four year period 1999–2000 to 2002–03.

A further £138 million has been allocated over the three years 2003–06.

§Chris Grayling

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether his Department tracks smokers who have given up for longer than four weeks through the smoking-cessation services. [127679]

§Miss Melanie Johnson

The Department of Health does not require the national health service stop smoking services to track smokers who have given up for longer than four weeks, although some services do. Follow-up at four weeks was chosen as a viable, practical way to ascertain initial success, following advice from experts in smoking cessation.

Data from 52-week follow up were originally collected for clients who set a quit date in specialist services in health action zones in 1999–2000. A high proportion of clients were lost to the service and some services found that 52-week follow up took disproportionate resources.

Loads of people dropping out? Better not to know – costs too much.

The Zealots are winding themselves up for a push:

Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

HC Deb 17 September 2003 vol 410 c786W786W

§Mr. Jim Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action his Department is taking, in conjunction with the Department of Health, to encourage the ratification of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control by all EU member states. [130044]

§Mr. MacShane

The UK signed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in June and is currently preparing to ratify the Treaty. We will be aiming to encourage early ratification by other Member States too. The ratification timetable is likely to be discussed at the Council on 1–2 December.

All together boys…..! Ratify!

Smoking

HC Deb 19 September 2003 vol 410 c1018W1018W

§Mr. Gardiner

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development (1) what discussions he has had with developing countries about health programmes to reduce smoking; and what assessment has been made of the use of UK programmes in developing countries; [131204]

(2) what estimate his Department has made of the healthcare costs associated with the growth in smoking in developing countries; [131205]

(3) what discussions his Department has had with developing countries on (a) using taxation to reduce consumption of tobacco products and (b) developing public education campaigns on the dangers of smoking; [131206]

(4) what measures his Department has taken to educate the public in least developed countries on the dangers of smoking. [131237]

Mr. Gareth Thomas

We do not have direct discussions with or provide support to countries in this area, but work through the World Health Organisation (WHO) and also support the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. This convention was adopted at the World Health Assembly in May 2003 and has been signed by 56 countries so far, including many developing countries. The convention requires countries that have signed it to implement comprehensive tobacco control programmes and strategies at the national, regional and local levels. These include promoting treatment programmes to help people stop smoking, education to prevent people from starting and measures to prohibit sales of tobacco products to minors. The convention recognises that tax and price measures are an important way of reducing tobacco consumption, particularly in young people, and requires signatories to consider public health objectives when implementing tax and price policies on tobacco products.

This year we plan to transfer a total of £12.5 million to WHO. For the calendar year 2002, WHO spent $4.1 million of its regular budget and $10.4 million of extra-budgetary funds on tobacco-related work, from a total expenditure of $464 million in 2002.

Hang on….there’s something funny in the  above statement. The treaty was open for signing for only the period 16th – 22nd June 2003. By September, only 56 countries had signed. How come countries were still signing after 22nd June? No wonder it was 19 months before the UK ratified the treaty! I wonder what pressure was put upon many countries to sign up? Threats of aid withdrawal perhaps? Who knows?

October

In this month, a full Commons debate took place on ‘Smoking ( Public Places)’. We must remember that the FCTC treaty had not yet been ratified! The Zealots were out in force in this debate. I was in two minds whether or not to publish the whole of that debate. I have decided to do so, but not before I have made a few comments.

Following the ‘Smoking (Public Places)’ debate, and during the whole of 2004, Hansard reveals NO mention of the FCTC. Not a word. And there was not a word about this:

ON THE 16TH DECEMBER, 2004, THE UNITED KINGDOM RATIFIED THE FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON TOBACCO CONTROL.

We have seen that no direct debate or discussion took place in Parliament about the FCTC.

In March 2005, the House of Lords debated ‘Smoking (Public Places)’. I am going to quote in full that debate also. But before I do, I am going to quote a few excerts from 2006. This is just to show how the Zealots started to persue the goal of the smoking ban.

2006

July

Tobacco Control

Richard Burden:

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress has been made on the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control since it entered into force on 27 February 2005; and if he will make a statement. [84873]

Mr. Thomas:

The UK was one of the first to ratify the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC): 168 countries have now done so. Since the adoption of the convention, the WHO FCTC secretariat has been working to ensure that as many countries as possible sign and ratify the treaty through awareness-raising among politicians, policy-makers, health professionals and society at large. Regional and national consultations to assist countries in preparing for the ratification and implementation of the WHO Framework FCTC have taken place. The WHO Tobacco-Free Initiative is also providing technical support to countries to assist them with implementation.

In order to support the development of a strong FCTC and combat tobacco industry disinformation, an alliance of non-governmental organizations from around the world has been formed. Now comprising more than 200 groups from more than 90 countries, the Framework Convention Alliance (FCA) is playing a key role in educating policymakers and strengthening cooperation across borders.

Richard Burden:

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what action the Government are taking to help reduce tobacco use in the developing world. [84874]

Mr. Thomas:

The health impacts of tobacco use in developing countries are of increasing concern. By 2030, tobacco will be responsible for ten million deaths per year, and 70 per cent. of these deaths will be in the developing world. The UK is taking action to address this problem.

Firstly, the UK played a key role in negotiating and ratifying the WHO’S Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which sets international standards on tobacco price and tax increases, tobacco advertising and sponsorship, labelling, illicit trade and second-hand smoke among others. Secondly, we have recently given the International Development Research Centre a £1.1 million grant over 3 years for research into effective tobacco control policies and programmes that will minimize the threat of tobacco production and consumption to health and human development in developing countries. Thirdly, we provide advice to tobacco-dependent poor countries on constraints to their economic development and the livelihoods of their citizens.

As a final point, DFID’s focus on improving health systems will impact on the adverse health effects of tobacco. We are currently revising our health strategy and looking at whether we should be doing more on tobacco control. As part of developing our strategy, we are specifically commissioning some work to help guide us in this area.

 

Written Ministerial Statements

Thursday 23 November 2006

Treasury

EU Finance

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (John Healey):

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has today ruled on a Dutch case known as Joustra, which concerns the rules on cross-border purchasing of excise products. The ECJ ruled that only products acquired and transported personally by private individuals are exempt from excise duty in the member state of importation.

This is the right and common-sense decision that upholds the existing laws on cross-border shopping and national rates of taxation. The UK’s rules on cross-border shopping will remain unchanged as a result of this judgment.

Consumers will still be able to travel to the EU and purchase goods for private consumption without paying UK duty. The UK continues to have the highest indicative levels for determining own use in the EU set at: 3,200 for cigarettes; 3 kg for hand-rolling tobacco; 110 litres for beer; 90 litres for wine and 10 litres for spirits.

The Government continue to support strongly the right of individuals to benefit from the freedoms of the EU single market when purchases are brought back for own use, with the individual present, and that are within the law.

People should be aware that the EU law specifies NO limit on goods which people import from the EU for their own use and provided that they bring the goods in personally. The guidelines are simply indicative.

 

Tobacco Production: European Union  

2007

Mike Penning:

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of tobacco produced in the EU is high tar. [116504]

Caroline Flint:

I have been asked to reply.

The information requested is not available.

Maximum machine-measured tar levels in cigarettes produced in the European Union are set by Directive 2001/37/EC, a copy of which is available in the Library.

Because machine-measured tar levels in cigarettes do not provide a meaningful indication of the tar levels actually obtained by an individual smoker, the Directive also banned the use of misleading descriptors on cigarettes packs such as “low tar”, “light” or “mild” from 30 September 2003.

24 Jan 2007 :

Tobacco Production: European Union

Mike Penning:

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what subsidies are available at (a) EU and (b) national level to producers of tobacco in the European Union. [116503]

Barry Gardiner:

The European Union (EU) adopted budget for tobacco premiums in 2006 was €920 million and the provisional adopted budget for 2007 is €316.6 million. The main beneficiaries of the EU subsidy have been Greece and Italy.

European Community produced tobacco is classified so that payments (known as “premia”) are made on eight groups. Premia are paid only when a standard contract has been concluded between the producer and a first processor for tobacco grown in recognised production zones. However, there is a quota system with a Community limit of 350,600 tonnes (divided by member state and variety group). Producers may not conclude contracts for tobacco beyond their quota, so any tobacco grown beyond quota will only fetch market prices and no premium.

Following a successful reform of the EU tobacco regime in 2004, direct support will cease in 2010.

Mike Penning:

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of EU tobacco production is exported to non-EU nations. [116505]

Barry Gardiner:

The most recent figures (for 2005) show that some 53 per cent. of the 364,000 tonnes of raw tobacco produced in the European Union (EU) was exported to countries outside the EU.

Mike Penning:

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what subsidies are provided for EU tobacco exports to non-EU countries. [116506]

Barry Gardiner:

There is no export refund system.

Mike Penning:

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reasons tobacco production in the EU is subsidised. [116639]

Barry Gardiner:

The tobacco regime was introduced in 1970 to support member states who have traditionally grown the crop in geographically disadvantaged areas, maintain farmers’ incomes and reduce surpluses by adapting production to market needs.

The UK does not produce tobacco and has always been critical of the support regime because of the cost and health implications. We believe that subsidies are at odds with the Community-sponsored Europe Against Cancer programme. The successful reform of the EU tobacco regime in 2004 introduced ‘decoupling’, which means that the direct link between production and support is broken. This will apply progressively until 2010 when direct support for tobacco will cease.

Undated

I don’t know how I came by this:

Displays on a website

(1)The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision imposing requirements in relation to the display in England and Wales or Northern Ireland in the course of a business of tobacco products or their prices on a website where tobacco products are offered for sale.

(2)A person who displays or causes to be displayed tobacco products or their prices in breach of a requirement contained in the regulations is guilty of an offence.

(3)A service provider established in England and Wales or Northern Ireland is guilty of an offence if, in the course of providing information society services, the provider does anything in an EEA State other than the United Kingdom which, if done in England and Wales or Northern Ireland, would constitute an offence under subsection (2).

(4)Nothing in subsection (2) makes it an offence for a service provider established outside the United Kingdom to do anything in the course of providing information society services.

(5)The regulations may make provision for a relevant display of tobacco products or their prices which also amounts to an advertisement to be treated for the purposes of offences in England and Wales or Northern Ireland under this Act……

A final update of the Friend and Foes list:

Year……MP (Zealot)………………….Minister…………….MP (non-zealot).

1997……Jackie Ballard……………….Ms. Jowell.

1998……Ms Osborne…………………..Ms. Jowell.

1999……C Dafis………………………….G Foulkes………….I. Bruce.

………….N A Goodman………………G Foulkes……………R. Campbell.

………….Mr Singh……………………..Clair Short.

………….Mr Streeter.

2000…..J Marshall…………………….Yvette Cooper……..Mr. Cummings.

2001/2/3.Lord Dormand…………….Ms Stuart.

……………..Lord Howe.

……………..Mr Hood…………………….Lord Hunt.

……………..Lady Jay.

……………..Baroness Gale………………Mr Hutton.

……………..Baroness Lockwood.

……………..Lord Graham………………Baroness Hollis.

…………….John Robertson…………..Mr MacShane.

…………….Chris Grayling……………..Maria Eagles.

2004-6….J Cunningham…………….Mel Johnson.

…………….Mr Gardiner……………….Gar Thomas.

…………….Rich Burden………………..Car Flint.

………………………………………………..Barry Gardiner.

——————————–

I shall now publish the two debates from the Commons and the Lords for people to read if they wish. I’ll also update my rogues galary from these debates in due course………… Read the debates if you want lots of examples of hyperbole, propaganda and junk science:

Debate: Smoking (Public Places)

HC Deb 14 October 2003 vol 411 cc1-22WH1WH

§Motion made, and Question proposed, That the sitting be now adjourned.—[Miss Melanie Johnson.]

9.30 am

§Linda Perham(Ilford, North)

I am delighted to have secured the debate on smoking in public places, a subject about which I and many Members in both Houses care passionately.

I pay tribute at the outset to the many parliamentary colleagues who over the years have campaigned, asked questions, introduced Bills and generally badgered the Government on the matter. In particular, the Under-Secretary of State for International Development, my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Thomas), introduced the Smoking (Restaurants) Bill on 14 April and my hon. Friend the Member for North-West Leicestershire (David Taylor), who chairs the all-party group on smoking and health, introduced the Protection from Smoking (Employees and Young Persons) Bill on 24 April 2001.

I thank Action on Smoking and Health, the British Heart Foundation, the British Medical Association, the Cancer Campaigning Group, the Consumers Association and Smoke Free London for their help and information on the subject and two taxi organisations, the Joint Radio Taxi Association and the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, for campaigning to allow licensed taxi drivers to designate their cabs non-smoking. Many taxi drivers—sometimes it appears all of them—live in my constituency, and I am well aware of how strong their feelings are on the issue. Unfortunately, it was not addressed in the Greater London Authority Act 1999, despite the backing of a majority of London Members of Parliament. Since then, the Greater London Assembly has held an inquiry into the subject and recommended that the appropriate legislation is changed, so that London taxi drivers have the right to work without the threat of smoke fumes.

Will the Minister and, perhaps, colleagues from other Departments make a commitment to review the report led by my colleague Jennette Arnold in the Greater London Assembly to see whether taxis can be brought into line with other forms of public transport, on which smoking is banned?

I have personal reasons for feeling strongly about the issue. I was a victim of childhood asthma and grew up in the 1950s, when my parents and almost everyone else, including people who came to the house, smoked. My condition was made worse by the culture that started with 1930s films, which I believe is what made my parents take up the habit at the age of 14. My parents are now well into their 80s—having given up smoking some years ago, they are, I am glad to say, still going strong.

When I was a child, smoking was allowed on public transport, in workplaces, places of entertainment, restaurants and bars. Now, smoking is banned on most 2WH public transport, except, as I said, in taxis, and in cinemas and theatres. We are making progress on having smoke-free areas in the workplace and other public places.

§Mr. Barry Sheerman(Huddersfield)

My hon. Friend makes an important point. She, like me, is a campaigner on the issue. Does she find it frustrating that Great North Eastern Railway is introducing a new train design in the coming months that will keep the smoking facilities? That means that the whole train, which travels at 140 mph, is really a smoking train. Does not she find it odd that smoking can be banned on planes, trains and buses, but railway stations and airports are still full of smoke?

§Linda Perham

My hon. Friend makes some good points. I pay tribute to his campaigning on this issue and I will mention a contribution that he has made later. There is a problem with trains. Buses, the underground and aircraft are smoke free. I remember the time before there were designated smoking areas when people could smoke on public transport. As he said, stations are also areas where people can smoke and we should deal with that problem. We are making progress, but not enough and not quickly enough to put an end to the thousands of preventable premature deaths and the contraction and exacerbation of thousands more serious illnesses affected by tobacco smoke.

“Smoking kills”. That is what it says on cigarette packets. That is what smoking does to a staggering 120,000 people a year in the UK—one in five of all deaths. That costs the NHS £1.7 billion and is a personal cost not just to those who lose their lives, but to their families and friends. According to “Towards smoke-free public places”, an excellent report published by the British Medical Association last November, tobacco smoke is a potent cock tail of more than 4,000 chemicals, more than 50 of which cause cancer. Second-hand smoke is now the only proven human carcinogen that is unregulated in the workplace. About 85 per cent. of second-hand smoke is invisible and odourless and is not filtered by conventional ventilation systems.

Second-hand smoke causes at least 1,000 deaths each year and presents particular difficulties to the 8 million people with lung disease, the 2.1 million with angina, the 1.3 million who have had a heart attack, the 300,000 who have had a stroke, the 750,000 pregnant women and the 5.1 million asthmatics, 1.4 million of whom are children. Returning to my own experiences, I remember a photograph taken when I was about 12. It shows me with my shoulders practically level with my ears as I fought for breath. That is partly why I feel so strongly about this issue.

Second-hand smoke puts children at increased risk not only of asthma but of lower respiratory tract illnesses, middle ear infections, sudden infant death syndrome and lower birth weight. It is also connected to reducing children’s lung capacity and exercise tolerance at a time when we need to get children to exercise more because of increasing concerns about the health risks of obesity. Indeed, describing children’s vulnerability to second-hand smoke, the chief medical officer’s annual report 2002 states:

3WH

Children’s lungs are smaller and their immune systems less developed…Children are smaller and breathe faster than adults and so take in more harmful chemicals per kg of weight than adults. Small children often have less choice than adults to leave a smoke-filled room. As for young people taking up smoking, Action on Addiction estimates that around 450 children a day—more than ever before—are embarking on the slippery slope to smoking slavery.

I come now to smoking in the workplace.

§Mr. Sheerman

Before my hon. Friend moves on from children, could I pick up on one point? As Chairman of the Education and Skills Committee I have become aware of the psychological damage done to children. They are constantly told at school and on the news media about the dangers of smoking and how it will kill them and give them cancer. They go home to a smoke-filled environment and see their parents smoking. They worry that their parents will die as a result. That is a serious trauma for children.

§Linda Perham

I thank my hon. Friend for making that point, which he brings from his experience of chairing the Select Committee.

In the UK, 3 million workers are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke in the workplace. Less than half of workers are employed in smoke-free workplaces. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman) for securing a debate on employee health on 11 March—the eve of national no-smoking day. I had hoped to secure the debate on national no-smoking day itself, but he was fortunate to secure it on its eve. He was supported by interventions from my right hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron)—another tireless campaigner on the matter—and my hon. Friend the Member for North-West Leicestershire, and he made a powerful case for more action to protect workers.

The all-party group on smoking and health met in April, on the eve of a conference on passive smoking in the workplace called, “Don’t Choke on the Smoke”. That conference was supported by ASH, the Trades Union Congress and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. We were told that it could be calculated that, in the UK, passive smoking causes the annual deaths of more than 900 office workers, 165 bar workers and 145 manufacturing workers. In the last category, three times as many people are estimated to die from passive smoking than all other work-related deaths. Seventeen per cent. of bar workers are estimated to die from passive smoking at current exposure levels. Deaths caused by second-hand smoke among office workers add an estimated 9 per cent. to the total occupational mortality rate.

A paper published in the British Medical Journal in July 2002 entitled, “Effect of smoke-free workplaces on smoking behaviour: systematic review”, found:

Totally smoke-free workplaces are associated with reductions in prevalence of smoking of 3.8 per cent.”, and

3.1…fewer cigarettes smoked per day”.4WH It continued:

If all workplaces became smoke-free, consumption per capita in the entire population would drop by…7.6 per cent. in the United Kingdom”. It concluded:

Smoke-free workplaces not only protect non-smokers from the dangers of passive smoking, they also encourage smokers to quit or to reduce consumption. Employers bear the costs of workers’ smoking, including higher maintenance and cleaning costs, increased risk of fire damage and increased fire insurance premiums. The economic and health costs of passive smoking at work include increased absenteeism due to illness and decreased productivity, and 86 per cent. of the public are in favour of smoking restrictions in the workplace, banks and other public places.

Although the hospitality industry fears that smoking-free workplaces would be expensive, evidence shows that smoking bans do not result in decreased profits. A detailed summary of studies assessing the impact of smoking restrictions on the hospitality industry is regularly updated by the VicHealth Centre for Tobacco Control in Australia. It finds no negative effects on business.

I concede that efforts have been made recently to curb smoking in the workplace, including designating whole buildings or areas as non-smoking. The Department of Health became smoke free only on 1 April 2003 and, unfortunately, the opportunity was lost to introduce a total non-smoking policy in our new building, Portcullis House. I was one of three Labour Members on the Accommodation and Works Committee to vote for that in 2000. Unfortunately we were defeated by the narrowest of margins. That was a great pity. A message could have been sent to the country at large that the new parliamentary building would be smoke free, but we did not take that chance.

§Mr. Sheerman

Will my hon. Friend confirm that those of us with offices in Portcullis House were never consulted on that decision? As I understand it—I would like us to nail this one if we can—there was a meeting at which a no-smoking policy was approved, but the meeting was then reorganised, new people attended and the decision was reversed.

§Linda Perham

I can speak only from experience on the Committee of which I was a member. It was argued that hon. Members could not be prevented from smoking in their own offices and therefore we could not enforce a total ban. However, there are total bans in other places and I think that, with a brand-new showpiece building, the chance should have been taken to make people aware that we are serious about the message that smoking should not be acceptable in public places.

§Mr. Sheerman

We were not consulted.

§Linda Perham

I think that that was probably the case. I do not remember my Committee going to every hon. Member on this issue. I can really remember only the discussions that we had in Committee, but the situation is extremely disappointing.

5WH

Some restaurants and pubs are introducing smoke-free areas or banning smoking completely. Pizza Hut did so recently. I shall mention some restaurants and pubs in my local area that are taking a lead. An Italian restaurant in Gants Hill called Don Pietro’s has a completely separate non-smoking area, which is extremely popular. I spoke to the owner and manager last week to congratulate them on their initiative and to say that I would mention them in the debate. The JD Wetherspoon chain operates a public house in Barkingside called the Fairlop Oak. I do not agree with the views of its chairman, Tim Martin, on the euro, but I applaud his initiative to provide non-smoking areas in his pubs.

Our local health services have done a great deal towards attacking the problem of smoking. There is a smoking cessation service, with which my parliamentary assistant has been involved, with some success. A scheme was set up in May 2002 to help pregnant women to give up smoking. Each year in my London borough of Redbridge, 960 babies are born to women smokers. There are 40 community advisers across the boroughs of Redbridge and Waltham Forest. In April this year, the “Together” initiative was the first of its kind designed to support smokers at key stages in the giving up process.

Two years ago, Smoke Free London’s British Market Research Bureau social research led a spokesperson from the then health authority in my area to say:

Cancer is the 2nd biggest killer in this area. Banning smoking in public buildings would help reduce this figure”. Research shows that three quarters of residents in Redbridge and Waltham Forest want mainly smoke-free pubs. More than 96 per cent. want smoking restrictions in restaurants and cafés. Another figure from this local survey is that 90 per cent. would agree with a move towards a complete ban in hospitals. The figures are 76 per cent. for sports and leisure centres and 68 per cent. for shopping centres. Furthermore, 95 per cent. agreed that taxi and minicab drivers should have the right to a smoke-free environment.

Voluntary measures are not enough. An increasing number of other countries are forging ahead of the UK in their determination to protect the public from the dangers of environmental tobacco smoke. Closest to home, Ireland will ban smoking in all workplaces from 1 January 2004. Legislation for smoke-free places has been successfully introduced, or is about to be introduced, in Australia, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, Finland, Norway, South Africa, Hong Kong, Romania and Kashmir, and in more than 100 cities in the United States.

Last year, my daughter was in San Francisco as part of her American studies degree, and my husband and I went out to visit her. It was a delight to know that we could go out for the evening in San Francisco and find a restaurant in which no one would be blowing smoke over us during the meal. It made me think how nice it would be if that were the case in the UK.

In July, the European Union Health Commissioner, David Byrne, proposed a ban on workplace smoking, referring to the fact that more than 500,000 EU citizens die of tobacco-related diseases each year. The Welsh Assembly passed a motion on 22 January in favour of the principle of legal restrictions to control exposure to tobacco smoke in indoor public places.

6WH

What should the Government do? In one of its calls for action in 2003, the Cancer Campaigning Group, which consists of 20 national cancer charities, calls on the Government to introduce effective legislation to create smoke-free public places. In the UK, no single piece of legislation pi-Meets against passive smoking in public places or the workplace. Governments have sought to control exposure to second-hand smoke through a series of voluntary measures. However, current UK health and safety law offers no explicit protection from the health effects of second-hand smoke.

Five long years ago, in the 1998 White Paper entitled “Smoking Kills”, the Government recognised that hundreds of people die every year in the UK as a result of high levels of exposure to passive smoke. They also recognised that smoke-free areas offer the best protection and agreed that completely smoke-free places were the ideal.

However, the White Paper did not advocate an outright ban on smoking in public places, but focused on making progress through voluntary measures. Those measures included the tobacco education programme, which was launched in December 1999, and support for helping smokers to quit and to prevent children, in particular, from starting. More recently, funding has been provided for raising awareness of the dangers of second-hand smoke, working with Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation. The British Medical Association proposes a new tax on all tobacco company profits to fund public awareness campaigns on the health risks of passive smoking.

The White Paper proposed two initiatives: the public places charter for clean air, aimed at the hospitality trade, and the introduction of an approved code of practice on smoking in the workplace. The public places charter was introduced in March 2000, and is a voluntary agreement between the Department of Health and the licensed hospitality industry. However, since its introduction, the proportion of smoke-free premises has increased only from 1 to 2 per cent.

The approved code of practice would provide legal guidance to employers on the steps that they should take to comply with their duties under the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974, which is the principal legislation that covers smoking in the workplace. The code would have a special status under the law—it would not be an offence not to comply with the code, but a code could be introduced as evidence in a prosecution. Compliance with the code would offer some legal protection to employers against claims that they had failed to protect employees from passive smoking.

Considerable effort was put into drafting the code. Yet, despite the Government consultation on it having been completed in 1999 and the Health and Safety Commission recommending its adoption after a further consultation in spring 2000, it has yet to receive final approval, in the face of continuing pressure from Members of both Houses. The code falls far short of legislation to ban smoking in public places, but it goes some way to protecting public health. I call on the Government to publish the approved code of practice 7WH together with the regulatory impact assessment produced at the time, which I understand provides the economic background for implementing such a code.

§Mr. Sheerman

Many of us are worried not only that the code has taken so long hut that international experience shows that voluntary agreements and codes do not work. From 1997, this Government have been timid, timid, timid on this issue—that has been their watchword. When does my hon. Friend think that they will take action to protect people in public places and workers in their workplace?

§Linda Perham

That is why I mentioned the initiatives hat have been taken in other countries. I carefully read the report of my hon. Friend’s debate from March in preparing for today, and, like now, he did not mince his words in calling for the Government to implement the code, as many Members of both Houses have done in the three and a half years that the process has taken. That is partly why I wanted today’s debate—to move the agenda along.

We want to see the code in place. I was involved in campaigning on age discrimination, the result of which was the introduction of a code on age diversity. However, as we know, the problem with voluntary codes is that some people and organisations always say, “Well, it’s only voluntary, so I don’t have to do anything.” The worst must be brought up to the level of the best. Once such a code is in place, if sufficient progress is not made I hope that the Government will consider legislation.

As well as record investment in our health services, the Government have achieved a great deal to promote public health issues, including banning tobacco advertising last year and establishing the first ever post of Minister responsible for public health—my hon. Friend the Minister has recently been appointed to that post. I urge her and her Government colleagues not to drag their feet in working towards enabling the people of this country to live, work and enjoy themselves without suffering the scourge of smoke in public places.

9.58 am

§Mrs. Patsy Calton(Cheadle)

I congratulate the hon. Member for Ilford, North (Linda Perham) on securing what both the Liberal Democrat party and I consider a very important Adjournment debate. I congratulate her on the quality, number and range of arguments, because the debate is worthy of wide dissemination. I hope that it will not be disregarded because it is the first Adjournment debate after the recess although so few Members have turned up for it. Far more would have turned up had they been aware well in advance that it was going to take place. Even yesterday, notice was given only on a separate sheet rather than on the advance warning blue papers. It is a pity that more Members are not present.

We are in a transition stage in dealing with smoking as a public health issue and people’s perception of it. Smokers and the public at large are finding that their attitudes are changing, and slowly—perhaps much too slowly—subjecting others to smoke is becoming as 8WH unacceptable as drinking and driving. Successive Governments have managed to produce a change in the attitudes, particularly of young people, towards drinking and driving. The same job needs to be done with smoking in public places and elsewhere. I hasten to add that I am not arguing that legislation is unnecessary, and I shall come to that in a minute.

There is now no doubt that smoking kills. Smoking is linked with a range of cancers besides lung cancer. There is no doubt too that passive smoking kills and worsens a range of illnesses and conditions such as asthma and heart disease. There is no doubt that giving up smoking is the single most important thing that any individual can do to improve not only their quality of life but their life chances after doing so. Furthermore, smoke makes people’s eyes smart, offends the olfactory organ and destroys quality of life. Providing information about the likely disbenefits, such as low birth weight, is accepted practice with pregnant mothers, and was 20-odd years ago when I was pregnant for the first time. I gave up at the time, as I had smoked for 10 years. Giving up was so difficult that I determined that I would never smoke again; I have not and will not do so. That is why I have a view about why people fight so hard to maintain their ability to smoke whenever and wherever they wish: quite simply, they are addicted, as I was, and are under the influence of a drug that is very difficult to be rid of. That is not true of everybody—some people give up more easily than others—but large numbers of people find it very difficult. I suspect that some of our colleagues are among them.

It is now standard practice that pregnant mothers, and mothers and fathers of young children, are given information that makes it clear that their children may well suffer if they are exposed to cigarette smoke, either in the womb or by being in the presence of smoking. I do not think that we can accept that such information should be available yet not take steps to ensure that children are not exposed. If we know that children are at risk, we should ensure that that risk is lessened in every situation that we can. Low birth weight—one of the factors associated with pregnant women smoking—is also a risk factor for lower achievement at school. Children are being put at risk for the whole of their lives because their mothers smoke. Everything that can be done to encourage people to give up smoking and not to expose themselves to passive smoking should be done to improve both public health and children’s individual life chances and quality of life from the word go.

§Mr. Sheerman

The hon. Lady is making some extremely good points and speaks compassionately. Does she agree that those of us who hate smoking and campaign on smoking too often come over as do-gooders who know best, and who hector and lecture people? Those who are addicted to tobacco have a severe form of addiction and sometimes that is the wrong approach to the problem.

§Mrs. Calton

I agree that reformed smokers are often regarded as public enemy No. 1. As the hon. Gentleman says, we are regarded as do-gooders. I prefer to think of smokers as victims and when I listen to people who, for whatever reason, began smoking and then found it extremely difficult to give up, I think in terms of the drug speaking rather than themselves. It is best to regard 9WH people who put up such a fight for their right to pollute the atmosphere as victims of a very addictive substance that is extremely difficult for them to get away from.

Case law—Stockport had a famous case a few years ago—indicates that employers are liable if they fail to take action to reduce the risk of workers developing illnesses because of exposure to smoke. Those cases are rarely brought to court because they are expensive and extremely difficult to prove. The code of practice, as we heard from the hon. Member for Ilford, North, has taken a long time to implement, and it is time for it to be finally approved.

The code of practice should be approved for the workplace not only outside the House but inside it. Hon. Members should be consulted. Early-day motion 866 provided a form of consultation and won considerable support from Members, but it is important that they are given the opportunity to make their views clear. Hon. Members should be able to take a lead in designating smoke-free areas and environments.

Many workers are not adequately protected from smoking in enclosed spaces and—this has been mentioned—the public have little or no protection apart from smoke-free areas, which are often next to and influenced by smokers’ areas.

I applaud Virgin trains, although few people will hear its users do so. Its timekeeping has improved quite a lot in the past few years and it insists on a smoke-free environment. Like several north-west MPs, I travel up and down on its trains most weeks, and now that smoking is not allowed anywhere on its trains the environment is much improved. I applaud it for banning smoking and for reminding people that they should not smoke on its trains. The issue affects not only those of us with chest infections; the journey is more pleasant and the carriages are not nearly as dirty as they were when smoking was allowed. That is another important issue.

The Liberal Democrats are developing policy in that area. I was interested to hear the hon. Member for Ilford, North tell us about taxi drivers. In fact, the Liberal Democrats used to have only one policy on smoking. At one party conference—I cannot remember which—we decided to ban smoking in taxis. I hasten to add—before anyone else says anything—that that may have been at the time when the whole parliamentary party could have fitted into one taxi, but we live in happier times and we certainly could not all fit into one now.

Liberal Democrats have a health policy paper out for consultation. Smoking is in the prevention of poor health section and we are looking for comments on it. When the paper goes before the party at its conference next spring, we will have extensive, possibly heated, debate about whether it is liberal to ban smoking in enclosed public spaces. No doubt some organisations would support a heated debate given that they believe that they would lose business. As the hon. Lady said, however, the evidence does not support that argument; it supports the argument that making an environment smoke free does not reduce business.

Clearly, in these circumstances I cannot say what our party will do when it makes its decision at conference. I have made my position absolutely clear. I would welcome a ban in enclosed public spaces. That is my 10WH position, until we have party policy on the matter. I will try to influence the outcomes, but one can never tell about such things.

A number of countries, and states and cities in the United States, have already introduced legislation to ban smoking in restaurants, cafés and bars without, as I understand it, any particular ill effects. Such bans probably contribute to smokers being put in an environment in which it is less and less acceptable to smoke, and must make it easier for them to give up.

Personally, I would ban smoking from all enclosed public spaces, but, as has regularly been pointed out to me, there is no one as sanctimonious as a reformed smoker. I do not believe that people who are addicted to a drug with lethal side effects should be allowed to determine the quality of the environment

10.10 am

§Chris Grayling(Epsom and Ewell)

I, too, congratulate the hon. Member for Ilford, North (Linda Perham) on having secured the debate and kicked off our return this autumn. I am sure that this debate should be thought about in terms of quality, not quantity. This is a valuable opportunity to discuss what I have no doubt will be one of the most important areas of public health debate in the months and years ahead, whatever one’s perspective may be.

We have also heard from the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman), who has carried out extensive work on the matter through his Select Committee role, and from the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mrs. Calton). I do not doubt that she speaks with great sincerity, although I am not entirely certain how the Liberal Democrat spokesman can avoid speaking for her party in a debate such as this. I await the results of her conclusions with interest.

§Mrs. Calton

May I help the hon. Gentleman? It may seem strange, but, in our party, policy is made and confirmed by the party and not by spokespeople. In the absence of written policy, the party will make a decision. Perhaps that is not so in all parties.

§Chris Grayling

We shall wait with interest to see what comes out of that exercise, but I want to be slightly more clear-cut this morning.

I shall start by setting out some principles that underlie my contribution. I have a lot of sympathy with the sentiments that have been set out this morning. Smoking is a fundamental health issue in our society. In an ideal world, no one would smoke. All those involved in public health education—in whatever capacity they serve and in all the different ways in which that takes place in our society—should see reducing the number of smokers as a core aim. That is unequivocal. I strongly believe that people who do not want to be exposed to cigarette smoke—I am one of them—should not be forced into a situation in which they are so exposed. I shall touch on that in particular in relation to the workplace.

There is a caveat, and those of us who hold strong views about smoking need to remember one crucial point. Smoking is a legally accepted practice in our society, whether we like it or not, and the provision of adequate protection for those who do not want to 11WH smoke must be balanced, reasonably, against the interests of those who do. We cannot just forget smokers, even though those who do not like smoking would perhaps sometimes like to do so. Nowhere is that point brought into starker relief than in the debate about whether we should ban smoking in public places, and, particularly, in the debate oil the impact of passive smoking.

In recent weeks both the British Medical Association and the chief medical officer have made contributions and issued warnings about the threat to public health from passive smoking. Some places, such as New York, have decided to take action against passive smoking by banning smoking in public places altogether. Most recently, the Commissioner in Brussels indicated that he is reviewing the issue. I fundamentally disagree that this is a matter for the Commission and very much hope that the Minister and her colleagues will ensure that the interest taken by Brussels is stamped on quickly. This is a matter for national Governments—for her and her colleagues, and their counterparts in other countries—not a Europe-wide issue. The Minister and her colleagues may not be able to resist the pressure, but their counterparts in France very likely will.

The arguments tend to focus strongly on health, and clearly the debate about the health implications of passive smoking is important. However, it is not always easy for politicians to be protagonists in such a debate, because we are not experts or scientists. Like everyone else, we amass and analyse evidence from those who bring professional expertise to the debate. I do not want to take one side or the other in the argument about the specific health implications of passive smoking. It is not necessary to do so, because the matter is clear-cut beyond purely the health situation. The issue is about balancing the freedom of individuals not to suffer unwanted exposure to cigarette smoke against the interest of not turning those people who want to smoke into pariahs in our society.

I wish to be absolutely clear this morning, first and foremost, that I do not want people to smoke and to inconvenience others when they are out and about. However, I do not in any way support a blanket ban on smoking in public places. That may seem slightly odd, coming from someone who is not a smoker, who does not like smoking and who wishes it would disappear. Such a ban would be impossible to define in a legally sound and fair way, and it would create anomalies that my colleagues and I could not personally defend. I shall give some examples.

I intensely dislike smoke-filled pubs and restaurants. I have sat in restaurants wishing that the people smoking at the next table would leave. If one is not a smoker, it is not pleasant while eating a meal to be exposed to smoke from someone sitting at the next table who is.

§Mrs. Calton

Surely, it is not just that that is not pleasant. The people in the next seat who are blowing smoke over are passing on something that could kill. It 12WH is not just unpleasant; it is lethal. Usually, people are not allowed to do things next to others that are likely to cause ill health or, possibly, death at a later date.

§Chris Grayling

Obviously, the hon. Lady was not listening to what I said a moment ago. Because politicians are not experts, we are not always best qualified to indulge in the fierce health debate that is taking place at present, and we do not need to. Even if passive smoking turned out not to be a health threat—I am not suggesting that it is not—the debate is more fundamental. Clearly, someone who suffers from asthma or lung problems has a right to sit in a restaurant and not have someone smoking at the next table.

§Mr. Sheerman

What is worrying me is that it is taking a long time for the hon. Gentleman to find the courage to say where he and his party stand. People who work in restaurants, pubs and clubs are very vulnerable, and that is particularly true of those who really are at the edge, in rooms where there is constantly a great deal of smoke day after day, year after year. Why should that group of workers be subjected to poisonous fumes that will affect their health and do them great damage? Surely, this is not just about the inconvenience to the hon. Gentleman of going to a restaurant and having someone smoke at the next table.

§Chris Grayling

If the hon. Gentleman will allow me to finish my remarks, I will come on to the workplace. Let me deal initially with whether there should be a blanket ban on smoking in public places.

Are we going to make it illegal for someone who owns a bar or restaurant to target their venue specifically at smokers? Will it be illegal for one pub in a high street in which most of the pubs and restaurants have banned smoking to be a smokers’ pub? That would be the problem if we introduced a blanket ban. We would be saying, “It is illegal for you to have a pub specifically targeted at smokers.” I do not believe that that is sustainable, nor is it justifiable in the context of human rights.

I hear what the hon. Gentleman is saying, but are we going to make it illegal for a rail company, private or public, to decide that it wants to make one sealed or unsealed compartment on its train an area designated for smokers? And in the natural correlation of that, are we going to make it illegal for an airport to provide a smoking room in a passenger terminal? I do not believe that that is sustainable.

How do we define a public place? If people smoke in a park, is that a public space? Are we talking about indoors or outdoors? Are we concerned with arenas where people are getting together for sporting events? What about a deck on a cross-channel ferry, a cliff-top walk on National Trust land or the platform of a railway station which is partly under a canopy and partly open? A law on the matter would be impractical to define and draft, unworkable and probably unenforceable. It is the wrong way of tackling a very important problem.

§Mr. Sheerman

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that we have one of the most sophisticated and advanced democracies in the world? That is what we always tell ourselves. Other countries have grappled with the issue, 13WH come to a balanced decision and banned smoking in public places. With common sense and good legislation, that works. Is he saying that this democracy cannot manage to do that?

§Chris Grayling

I am saying that it is not possible to draft a law that is just, fair and practical. However, although I think that a blanket ban would be impractical and wrong in principle, that does not mean that I do not recognise the importance of the issue, or that I do not want action to be taken to protect people.

I would be much happier for the Government to focus their attention on employee protection in the workplace, which I regard as a fundamental issue of rights. With the one caveat that I shall come to in a moment—the entertainment industry—smoking in the workplace is a difficulty that we need to address. I do not see why employees should be forced to sit in a workplace exposed to cigarette smoke day in, day out, when they do not want to do so. They should not feel that to complain about such a position, or to take action, would be to jeopardise their position. That would be fundamentally wrong.

Of course, most responsible employers now operate perfectly reasonable policies that provide space for smokers away from main working areas. I do not like the concept of a large office building with a total ban, which means that anyone who wants to smoke ends up in the car park or the street. There is nothing more unedifying than walking past an office building and seeing a group of people outside on the doorstep smoking. There is nothing wrong with providing a smoking environment that is entirely separate from the main workplace where people can go during the day to have a cigarette if they choose to do so. Frankly, I wish that they would not use that space, but it is wrong for employers not to provide that opportunity.

Not all employers do provide such a space, and that is to be regretted. Sometimes that is through choice, and sometimes it is because of practical difficulties. In too many places, such as small minicab offices, firms of half a dozen people or behind the scenes in the local corner shop, the employee who does not smoke has little choice but to put up with the smoke of colleagues. In my view that is neither fair nor just. There are grey areas, such as the hospitality industry where public pleasure and the working environment go hand in hand, and they are much more difficult to deal with. I shall talk more about that in a moment.

I entirely agree with the hon. Member for Ilford, North. Employment protection seems to be an area on which the Government have put their head in the sand during the past four years. It is four years since the Health and Safety Commission published its draft approved code of practice, and interestingly it said then that there was already sufficient health and safety and welfare law that could be applied to the question of passive smoking. What is needed is for the law to be better understood and followed. It said that the case for more law is not yet convincing because the existing legal framework is sufficient to deal with the issue. We need greater clarification to help employees to understand their rights and employers to understand their responsibilities, and to create the right framework for managing smoking in and around the workplace.

14WH

It is extraordinary that the draft approved code of practice is still sitting on the shelf. I have read it, and it is not perfect. It is too bureaucratic and focuses too much on employers drafting policy documents rather than on doing things. It also fails to reflect the fact that the entertainment industry is a genuinely special case.

Do the Government think that there should be an approved code of practice? If they do, let us see a document based on what they believe to be the next step after the initial draft document. Do they believe, as the Health and Safety Commission put it, that the law should be better understood and followed? Why has the code of practice sat on the shelf for so long? There is no justification for that—I would be fascinated to hear the Minister’s justification.

I want to make it clear that although I may have an issue with the practicality of a total blanket ban, we should not put employees in a position where they must be exposed to cigarette smoke. This is a question of fundamental rights. It is very easy to discuss smokers’ rights; let us discuss the non-smokers’ rights. Why should people be exposed to cigarette smoke in the workplace if they do riot want to be? Of course, nothing is ever that easy. The leisure and entertainment industry is a particular challenge. It has advanced a robust case that it is working to improve the particular difficulties that it faces in protecting employees from passive smoking. Some people say that those efforts have not gone far enough.

The public places charter, which I have read, is a desirable step forward, as the hon. Member for Ilford, North acknowledged. She highlighted the fact that JD Wetherspoon has introduced non-smoking policies in parts of its pubs in her constituency, which is entirely desirable. Step by step, public pressure will make it less commercially viable for organisations to run big, smoke-filled pubs, as they have done in the past.

Can we, however, really reach a situation in which a blanket ban is imposed? I would be mighty reluctant to see us impose an absolute ban on anyone deciding that either part or all of their premises—a private venue—should be designated a smoking area. That approach would be questionable.

§Mr. Sheerman

Does the hon. Gentleman not recognise the deep flaw in his argument? He does not want a blanket ban—people who support a blanket ban always worry me because they use it as an excuse for not thinking the issue through clearly. If he does not want a blanket ban, however, what are the implications for protecting workers in public places? If one is serious about protecting workers in public places, that must include pubs, bars, restaurants, clubs, railway stations and trains. If the health of workers is to be protected, smoking cannot occur in any of those places. The hon. Gentleman cannot have his cake and eat it.

§Chris Grayling

I fully accept that. As I said, nothing is ever that easy. However, it is not sustainable to say to somebody who owns a pub, “You may not position yourself in the high street as the smoking pub.”

When I examined the detail of the public places charter, I realised that it does not contain solutions to all the problems or go far enough on all the issues. It is, however, a positive step forward. It is definitely a 15WH foundation from which the industry and the Department of Health—it has been signed by both sides—can try to find solutions to a difficult and complicated problem. Although those on the anti side of the argument are wrong to dismiss it, it is not the only acceptable way forward. It is, however, a valuable next step in the debate. I accept the hon. Gentleman’s point that the entertainment industry is a difficult issue in what is otherwise a broad-brush picture in which the issues are fairly clear.

Smoking in public places is often a nuisance, it has potential health implications and it should be reduced wherever possible. That is happening. Smoking has disappeared in airlines, on buses, on the London underground and in many public buildings around the country. It is in the hands of the whole public sector, which controls a significant number of public venues around the country, voluntarily to decide to make those areas smoke free in the same way that airlines and the London underground have. They have taken those decisions because that is what their passengers want.

There is already substantial proof that fewer and fewer organisations and people are willing to tolerate cigarette smoke in areas where smokers and non-smokers mix. However, I do not believe that a draconian Bill to ban by law any public venue from specifically targeting smokers would be workable or right. It would be hard to define in legal terms and almost impossible to enforce. Smoking is still a legal activity in this country. We should not go down that road.

By contrast, the Government’s inactivity in the debate on employee protection in the workplace represents a real failing on their part. There is no rational reason for them to have taken four years to resolve whether there should be an approved code of practice. Does the Minister plan to bring forward a revised code for debate? Does she think that there is a stronger case for employee rights? What does she plan to do to address smoking in the workplace, an issue that the Government seem to have forgotten since 1999? That is where there is the most pressing need for immediate work to be done. Sadly, I see no evidence that the Government are doing that work.

I agree with many of the sentiments expressed by hon. Members this morning, but, as a society, we have to find a balance between proper and appropriate public health measures and draconian measures that ultimately remove the freedom to undertake activities even in isolation from others. That is what a draconian Bill could do. Let us see action to define employers’ and employees’ responsibilities and rights in the workplace. Let us encourage, by whatever means possible, those who provide public venues to continue to segregate and to provide spaces, protection and smoke-free environments wherever possible—but let us not, ultimately, be draconian in how we instruct our society to behave.

10.32 am

§The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Miss Melanie Johnson)

I, too, congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Alford, North (Linda Perham) on securing this Adjournment debate. It is 16WH clear from the quality of the contributions that this is an important debate. I entirely accept that had it not been the first debate today it might have attracted a much greater attendance. I reassure my hon. Friend and other hon. Members that I am not concerned about the lack of people here. I know that this is an important debate that contributes to a wider public discussion on the dangers of tobacco smoke. It is a valuable reminder of the need to tackle those dangers.

In the hour that this debate has taken so far, more than 13 people in the United Kingdom have died from smoking. We must remember that all these discussions take place in that context. The vast majority of those people have died from smoking directly, but that is not to belittle the contribution that secondary smoking makes. It is also important to recognise that half all smokers will die of a smoking-related disease. This is an enormously important matter.

The debate gives the Government an opportunity to say what we have been doing to raise awareness of the health dangers of second-hand smoke and to reduce the risk to smokers and all those around them. Smoking kills more people than any other avoidable cause of ill health in the UK. There are 120,000 deaths, as has already been said, and the cost to the NHS of such diseases is £1.7 billion a year. Smoking causes more than 80 per cent. of deaths from lung cancer, and one in seven of all deaths from coronary heart disease is the result of smoking. Tobacco smoke is probably the biggest single cause of health inequalities because it affects not only those who smoke but those exposed to it.

There are many reasons why smoking has been, and continues to be, a top priority for the Government since we came to office in 1997. One of the first things we did was to launch the White Paper “Smoking Kills”, which outlined a tobacco control strategy for the country as a whole. It has been echoed in subsequent documents such as the NHS plan, the cancer plan, the national service framework for coronary heart disease, the national service framework for children and others. The cancer plan recognised the major health inequalities that result from smoking and set specific targets to reduce its prevalence among manual workers to bring their smoking rates closer to those in the general population.

I want to say something about the nature of those who are addicted to smoking tobacco and the fact that 70 per cent. of them do not want to smoke. In respect of all the comments made about the evangelism of reformed smokers and about where people are coming from on the issue, we must remember that the vast majority of those who suffer from this serious addiction do not wish to smoke. We have therefore set targets to reduce smoking rates in the population, focusing particularly on young people and pregnant smokers. The targets take into account the impact of tobacco smoke, not only on the health of the smoker, but on those around them. Reducing smoking in the general population will reduce exposure to second-hand or passive smoking.

In June, the Government signed up to the World Health Organisation’s framework convention on tobacco control. The framework convention is an international legal agreement agreed unanimously by the 192 member countries of the World Health Assembly. The convention covers all aspects of tobacco control and makes a specific recommendation that 17WH action be taken to provide for protection from exposure to tobacco smoke. It is the Government’s aim to increase provision of smoke-free or non-smoking areas.

On smoking in public places, the Government have always recognised that completely smoke-free places are the ideal. Seven out of 10 smokers do not want to smoke and many people do not want to breathe the smoke of others. Furthermore, many smokers do not want to breathe other people’s tobacco smoke. At the time of “Smoking Kills”, the Government took the view that a universal ban on smoking in public places was unjustified while we could make fast and substantial progress by other means.

§Mr. Sheerman

We all recognise that this Labour Government have very good intentions on the matter, but it is 2003 and we have been in office since 1997. We have had a succession of Under-Secretaries of State for Health and my hon. Friend knows that I have the highest regard for her as a politician and as a Minister. This is an opportunity for her to make her name as the one public health minister anyone will remember for taking a really tough stand on the issue. I hope that she will not make excuses, but will tell us why there has not been much concrete action so far.

§Miss Johnson

I am grateful for my hon. Friend’s kind remarks and his desire that I should be remembered for achievement on this matter. I disagree with his recollection of the achievements of my predecessors, which are considerable. In the course of dealing with some specific matters, I hope to reply to his remarks.

On smoking in taxis, which was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North, the Department for Transport consulted nationally in 1999–2000 and in March 2001 announced that it recognised the merits of banning smoking in taxis, but that it did not consider the case to be strong enough to make a commitment to legislate. It was satisfied that the voluntary approach of drivers being able to ask passengers not to smoke—in other words, to make the decision per cab—was adequate.

§Chris Grayling

I am on the side of Labour Members on this point. It is not always easy for a minicab driver picking up a group of drunken revellers on a Saturday night to persuade them not to smoke. Does the Minister accept that the voluntary code brings with it some serious shortcomings?

§Miss Johnson

If I were a taxi driver picking up a group of drunken revellers late at night, I would probably be concerned about other things that could go wrong, but forgive me if I do not elucidate.

§Linda Perham

The problem is that taxi drivers feel that they do not have the force of the law behind them. As hon. Members will have seen, many cabs carry a sign saying “Thank you for not smoking”, but drivers do not feel that that can be enforced. Rather than a ban, they want the choice to designate their cabs as smoking or non-smoking. They cannot do that at the moment and they feel that an opportunity was missed during the passage of the Greater London Authority Act 1999 as such a provision could have been introduced. That is why they continue to campaign.

§Miss Johnson

I understand my hon. Friend’s arguments. They appear to be matters for the 18WH Department for Transport, although I can report on the current state of play. I have travelled in many taxis in which smoking is banned by the choice of the taxi driver. As a non-smoker I can tell whether someone has smoked recently in the cabs by the smell, and most cabs have remained smoke free. There is scope, but I understand my hon. Friend’s point about some cab drivers’ anxiety.

Children and smoking was the starting point for my hon. Friend’s interest in the subject. Teenage smoking is one of the greatest challenges that we face and 82 per cent. of smokers start the habit when they are teenagers. We have taken many measures to tackle teenage smoking, including banning tobacco advertising—something that the previous Government consistently refused to do—and introducing tough enforcement on underage sales. From 13 September 2000, the Government launched an enforcement protocol with local authorities to ensure that existing legislation on underage sales was properly enforced. That is monitored by trading standards officials from time to time. The Government also support proof-of-age card schemes that protect shopkeepers and children alike, and there are tougher new restrictions on the siting of cigarette vending machines, which must be located in a monitored and supervised area.

My hon. Friend also spoke about the effects of passive smoking in the home. In 2002, the International Agency for Research on Cancer conducted an extensive review of the evidence. It concluded:

There is sufficient evidence that involuntary smoking (exposure to second-hand or environmental tobacco smoke) causes lung cancer in humans. The overall conclusion was that involuntary smoking is carcinogenic to humans, and the agency is the accepted world authority on carcinogenic risks.

Second-hand smoke exposure causes lung cancer and ischemic heart disease. It also causes serious respiratory illness and asthmatic attacks in children, as my hon. Friend said, and second-hand smoke exposure triples the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Middle ear disease in children is often associated with exposure to smoke, which also causes pregnant women to give birth to lower birth weight children.

§Mr. Sheerman

Although my hon. Friend is expounding a brilliant set of facts, we still have a Government who refuse to ban smacking and smoking in pre-school nursery settings. We have the information, and if we believe it we should surely deliver on it. Campaigners within the Chamber and outside are waiting for her to explain what will be done to protect children and workers in particular, since they are at the forefront of the battle.

§Miss Johnson

I will deal with some of my hon. Friend’s points shortly. I have the luxury of a little time and I am trying to use it as constructively as possible. I am sure that I will not satisfy him on all those points, but I will come to them.

I will deal with the workplace as that has particularly concerned my hon. Friend, as shown in his recent remarks. The point was made that public opinion is in a transitional state on smoking in confined public spaces—not open spaces but all others—and that is correct. There is a shift in public opinion to banning smoking, but also a division of view among both smokers and non-smokers.

19WH

When the subject arose in a recent discussion, I was struck by the fact that some trade unions, such as Amicus, whose job it is to protect workers, circulated material arguing against a ban on smoking in workplaces, particularly in the entertainment industry, due to a concern about jobs. That is no reason for the Government not to introduce a ban, but some people who might be expected to argue strongly for it are not doing so.

§Mr. Sheermanindicated dissem.

§Miss Johnson

My hon. Friend is shaking his head but I do not know why.

§Mr. Sheerman

I am a member of the union that the Minister just mentioned and I spoke at a recent conference held by the TUC on the matter. The trade union movement has dealt slowly and poorly with that aspect of workers’ rights. However, as we both know, in the TUC and across the trade union movement, change is coming fast. If she is not aware of that, she should be. I have not seen the material that she mentioned, but will take it up with the general secretary at Amicus as soon as I leave this Chamber.

§Miss Johnson

I am grateful for my hon. Friend’s remarks. I suggested that there is a transition in all public opinion and that includes the trade unions.

Existing legal requirements on employers in the workplace come under the scope of the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974, which states:

It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safely and welfare at work of all of his employees. If we are to ensure protection against second-hand smoke in public places, there must be action nationally and locally both to raise awareness of the risks associated with passive smoking and to increase the prevalence of smoke-free environments. The Department of Health will continue to encourage the development of smoke-free policies, working with both employers and communities.

Locally, the Department funds tobacco control alliances across England to work in communities to raise awareness and increase the number of smoke-free environments. Findings from those projects will inform the development of the Department’s work. The Department of Health will, in addition to existing action, develop educational and information resources to raise awareness and understanding of the risks associated with passive smoking.

In that context, the Government are still considering the code of practice and I understand hon. Members’ frustration. However, the Health and Safety Executive has been asked to examine the costs further, as they affect the small business and hospitality sector.

§Chris Grayling

The Government have taken a long time to consider the issue—when will they stop?

§Miss Johnson

That is not entirely under my control, but I assure the hon. Gentleman that I acknowledge that 20WH the process has gone on for some time. It would be good to conclude the discussions, but the time scale is not under my control—it involves parts of the Government over which I have no say.

§Linda Perham

I think that my hon. Friend’s argument about small business was also advanced in a colleague’s reply to a debate secured by my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman) in March. I mentioned the problems that employers have with insurance premiums—the risk of fire and so forth—because of people smoking. I hope that not only small businesses but all businesses will regard attacking the problem of smoking as an opportunity as far as health and safety is concerned, not as yet another bit of red tape.

§Miss Johnson

I share my hon. Friend’s enthusiasm for the approach that might be taken and I agree with her remarks.

The public places charter—a hospitality industry-led initiative—declared an intention to improve facilities for non-smoking customers and for pubs and restaurants to highlight their smoking policy through universal signage. That was mentioned by several hon. Members, not least my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North in her opening remarks. The charter set the target that, by January 2003, 50 per cent. of pubs should have a formal smoking policy in place and available to customers. However, an independent validation showed that by January only 43 per cent. of pubs had the appropriate signage in place, which could mean that smoking is allowed throughout, and a formal written policy available to customers. That obviously fell short of our target. Most pubs still have smoking throughout and only a handful are entirely smoke-free. That is not satisfactory progress.

Later this month, officials from the Department will meet the charter group, which is responsible for the charter, and will consider any positive suggestions for improving health. As more companies recognise the health benefits for their staff and customers of becoming smoke free they will follow suit, but it is true that more motivation and enthusiasm need to be engendered in some to make the progress that is right and proper.

The Government acknowledge that much needs to be done in tackling smoking, but we have an excellent record of doing so—a record that is recognised worldwide. We have put in place a number of measures that have an impact on smoking. We have set up a comprehensive support service for smokers to help the 70 per cent. who want to quit. Cessation aids such as nicotine replacement therapy are available on the national health service. There are dedicated helplines for all smokers, for pregnant smokers and for south Asian tobacco users. The NHS stop smoking service is designed to help smokers to give up with expert professional support.

Among the measures having an impact is the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002, which brought to an end billboard, newspaper and magazine advertising of tobacco products. From the end of July this year, virtually all sponsorship featuring tobacco products had gone.

In July, we launched the UK’s first television campaign to raise public awareness of the health risks from second-hand smoke. It is estimated that 42 per 21WH cent. of children live in a house where at least one person smokes and that approximately one third of smokers—more than 4 million people—continue to smoke near children. Smoking near children is linked to cot death, serious respiratory illnesses, asthma attacks and serious breathing problems. As the advert says, every year thousands of children have to go to hospital because of breathing other people’s cigarette smoke.

The advert is the first step in a campaign to increase awareness of the risks of second-hand smoke not only to children, but to everyone. We have followed it with more information, newspaper advertisements and billboards highlighting the risks. In addition, the new, larger health warnings on cigarette packets, which became compulsory at the end of September, include the messages: “Smoking harms you and those around you”, “Protect children: don’t make them breathe your smoke” and “Smoke contains benzene, nitrosamines, formaldehyde and hydrogen cyanide.”

We aim to raise awareness of the health risks from second-hand smoke to enable the public to take steps to avoid them. The chief medical officer, in his annual report published earlier this year, drew particular attention to the seriousness of second-hand smoke.

§Mr. Sheerman

Will my hon. Friend the Minister talk to the Health Minister in the Irish Republic about the planned introduction of a ban in public places, and will she listen to and learn from him? Will she remind my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister that he said that we are at our best when we are at our boldest? Although there were many good things in her speech, it did not sound bold or like a Government at their best.

§Miss Johnson

I shall ensure that we are in touch with developments on the smoking ban in Ireland. In any case, we take a wide interest in what is happening on the issue around the globe, not only across Europe. I shall ensure that we see whether any lessons can be learned from it.

As a result of the tobacco control alliances a number of cities and towns have declared their intention, on a voluntary basis, to create more smoke-free environments and thereby be able to declare themselves smoke free. From 1 April this year, the Department of Health has become entirely smoke free. We offer support and help to staff who want to give up smoking, and encourage others to follow that example.

This autumn we sponsored conferences in each of the English regions so that local organisations could meet to share examples of good practice. The conferences have been chaired by regional public health directors—there is a high-level commitment on the public health side—who have an important role in any event in increasing 22WH local awareness. Various businesses are getting involved in that initiative. There are speakers at the regional conferences from organisations as varied as the Cambridge Blue pub, Mars in Slough, the Land Registry in Plymouth and Aston Villa football club. It is a fairly disparate collection of interested parties, but that gives the feel of the range of businesses and employers—in the public and the private sectors—that recognise the importance of tackling smoking and responding to the wishes and needs of workers and their customers.

§Chris Grayling

Will the Minister give way?

§Miss Johnson

I should like to finish if I may. Public attitudes towards smoking and smoking in public places have been gradually changing in the past two decades. The days when cinemas, theatres, underground stations and trains were filled with smoke are in the past, notwithstanding the earlier remarks about GNER. It is in response to such changes in public attitudes that many businesses have moved to provide smoke-free premises. It is particularly noteworthy, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North commented, that the popular chain of restaurants, Pizza Hut, chose to go smoke free in response to both customers’ and workers’ wishes. When a restaurant business that is a name recognised throughout the country takes such a step, others should take note and act accordingly.

There has been a measurable shift in the number of smoke-free workplaces since “Smoking Kills” in 1998. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that in 2002, for the first time, more than 50 per cent. of workplaces were free from smoke—that is up from 40 per cent. in 1996. Perhaps that is not enough, but it is progress. The same publication shows that the number of people wanting to eat in a smoke-free restaurant has been well above 80 per cent. for several years in a row. That statistic should be used to encourage operators of restaurants to respond appropriately to public demand.

Of course, old habits die hard—we know that that is particularly so with smoking—but things are changing, and we are more aware than ever of the risks of smoking and the effect of passive smoking. I recognise that we have some way to go and I encourage those employers and businesses that can make a real difference to show leadership in responding to public and customer demand for more smoke-free places. I am committed to real progress in all aspects of reducing smoking and assure my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield, who has urged on me the opportunity to make a name for myself in this regard, that I shall do all that I can to ensure that all partners who can help to achieve this result make more steady progress than they may have made to date towards achieving what we all want to see in the due fullness of time.

————————————

Smoking in Public Places

HL Deb 09 March 2005 vol 670 cc727-9727

§Baroness Morgan of Drefelin

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What discussions they have had with the authorities in the Republic of Ireland, Italy and the United States on lessons to be learnt from the introduction of restrictions on smoking in public places.

§The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner)

My Lords, I begin by congratulating the organisers of today’s No Smoking Day, which on past evidence will mean that more than 1 million smokers will try to quit.

There have been regular contacts and meetings with the Republic Ireland and New York. Italy reduced its restrictions only in January, and we are watching developments. We shall take into account any evidence from international developments that is relevant to this country’s situation. Our proposals for England are based on extensive public consultation, which will continue while leading up to the legislation promised in the Choosing Health White Paper.

§Baroness Morgan of Drefelin

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply. I am glad to hear that we are open to learning from abroad. Does he agree that in the countries to which the Question refers many disasters were foretold but have yet to come about? Also, as it is national No Smoking Day, can he update us on the Government’s tobacco control strategy, particularly on the reduction in the prevalence of smoking and on tackling advertising?

§Lord Warner

My Lords, I thank my noble friend and can confirm that we are a learning government who continue to learn from others, with possibly one or two exceptions, in the area of health policy.

Several things that may be of interest to my noble friend and the House have happened since the Choosing Health White Paper. We have ended the practice of point-of-sale advertising and ratified the World Health Organisation’s framework convention on tobacco control. With regard to the NHS Stop Smoking Service, we have published the latest statistics for the six months from April to September 2004. They show that around 201,500 people set a quit date in that six-month period and around 107,800 people quit after four weeks.

§Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, I have just enjoyed the most delicious lunch with the all-party smokers committee. Does the Minister share my views on the restaurateur quoted in the newspapers recently, 728 who said, “This is my restaurant. If people do not wish to come to my restaurant, so be it. If they wish to come, and smoke a cigarette, equally so be it”?

§Lord Warner

My Lords, I hope that the noble Baroness set a very good example to her lunching companions in the way she conducted herself.

§Lord Chan

My Lords, what have the Government learned from other countries about tackling health inequalities, and particularly about helping those who are vulnerable, such as pregnant mothers and people from black and minority ethnic groups, to stop smoking?

§Lord Warner

My Lords, as I said earlier, we watch the experience of other countries, and we have drawn on that experience in the Choosing Health White Paper, where we set out clearly our proposals for tackling the problems of second-hand smoke. In the media campaigns that we run on quitting smoking, we take account of the needs of all groups of people in this country.

§Lord Mackie of Benshie

My Lords, how many Ministers in Her Majesty’s Government still smoke?

§Lord Warner

My Lords, I believe that data protection legislation prevents me being able to reveal that.

§The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth

My Lords, would the Minister care to indicate whether the Government have any plans to ban the use of incense in places of public worship?

§Lord Warner

No, my Lords, but if the right reverend Prelate wants us to work on that, I am sure that we could.

§Lord Naseby

My Lords, can the Minister confirm that in the three areas discussed in the Question, there was extensive consultation with affected parties before any restrictions were introduced? Can he confirm that that is also the position of Her Majesty’s Government?

§Lord Warner

My Lords, we consulted extensively in this area and shall continue to do so.

§Lord Harris of Haringey

My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, raises a very interesting point. Clearly it is open to restaurateurs to decide to pickle themselves and open to clients of that restaurant to decide not to go there. But what about the staff of such restaurants? What protection does my noble friend believe that they should be offered in such circumstances?

§Lord Warner

My Lords, all employers are required to take account of the needs of their staff and we have the Health and Safety Executive to ensure that they do so.

729

§Lord Walton of Detchant

My Lords, every few weeks statistics accumulate, clearly demonstrating not only the effect of smoking on human health of those who smoke cigarettes or pipes but the effect of passive smoking on others who are exposed to second-hand smoke. In the light of recent evidence and the Government’s own White Paper, when will the Government complete the consultation process and introduce legislation to restrict smoking in public places?

§Lord Warner

My Lords, today we published our delivery plan for the Choosing Health White Paper and identified in detail the work to be taken forward. The Government remain committed, as we made clear in the White Paper, that by the end of 2006 all government departments and the NHS will be smoke free. By the end of 2007 all enclosed public places and workplaces except for some licensed premises and membership clubs, will be smoke free. By the end of 2008, all licensed premises where food is prepared or served will be smoke free. This Government keep their promises.

§Baroness Barker

My Lords, what discussions have there been with the authorities of the countries named in the Question about the cost of compliance with the change in the law? Who bears the cost of compliance with those changes?

§Lord Warner

My Lords, I do not have the details of all the exchanges that took place in the contacts, consultations and meetings. I shall look into the matter and, if I can shed any light for the noble Baroness, write to her.

§The Earl of Erroll

My Lords, does the Minister agree that people who suffer from stress should be allowed to choose to smoke to reduce it?

§Lord Warner

My Lords, I think that we have made our policy on smoking very clear over a long period.

 

 

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