David Nuttall with David Cameron PM
Ten Minute rule Motion
Mr Kevin Barron (Rother Valley) (Lab): I oppose the Bill. The same argument was put to the House not so many years ago in a debate that resulted in the current legislation. The hon. Member for Bury North (Mr Nuttall) was right to say that the original legislation, proposed by the then Labour Government, did not provide for a comprehensive ban in areas of all public houses or private members’ clubs. In 2005 the Select Committee on Health, which I chaired, conducted a detailed inquiry into the issues before the Bill that became the Health Act 2006 had completed its passage. When it had done so, the amendments that had been tabled were put to the vote. Labour Members were eventually given a free vote, as, I understand, were Opposition Members.
Indeed it was a “free vote” but most MPs had already had their heads filled with misinformation; ie, ASH propaganda & junk statistics.
Let me give the House a flavour of the results of that vote. The hon. Gentleman described this as a contentious issue. The result of the vote on clause stand part, as amended—there had been an attempt to remove the amendment—was 452 Ayes and 127 Noes. At no time did any Member trying to defend the hon. Gentleman’s position manage to persuade more than 200 Members into the Lobby. It followed a great tradition that in the other place, shortly after the votes in February 2006, Lord Tebbit rose to defend the Labour party manifesto of 2005. At the time some of us, although we had stood on that manifesto, thought it was nonsense from the point of view of public health.
In the same year that the House made that decision, Spain implemented a smoking ban exempting small bars and restaurants. The law has not been seen as a success, and as a result of public dissatisfaction with the exemptions the Spanish Government have proposed to extend the ban to all pubs and restaurants, although they are considering an exemption for private smokers’ clubs. An evaluation of the Spanish law found that levels of second-hand smoke were reduced only in bars where smoking was prohibited by law, and that
“Most hospitality workers continue to be exposed to very high levels of SHS”—
that is, second-hand smoke.
That was the issue then, and it is still the issue today: people who work in the leisure sector are exposed to people’s life-threatening habits. It was the issue in 2006, when the original legislation went through the House, and it remains the issue today. Unless bars contain NHS operating theatres with doors that are rarely opened, it will never be possible to avoid the effect of Bills such as this on workers. Evaluations of other partial bans have found limited evidence of health gain, and they are believed to aggravate health inequalities.
Again, basic lies are being uttered in the House of Commons! The smoke ban is working very well in Spain for there is choice, hence those that choose to smoke attend smoker friendly bars & clubs. Far from what has been reported, the people of Spain see the implementation of their particular brand of smoke ban as very successful for workers who did not wish to work in a smoky atmosphere simply did not apply for such positions. “An evaluation of Spanish Law......utter bilge! Common sense alone tells you that smoke free bars obviously had much reduced levels of second hand smoke-because, amazingly, it was a smoke free bar! There was no ‘infamous’ study to support this conclusion.
“Most hospitality workers continue to be exposed to very high levels of SHS”
Hospitality workers in Spain now only work in smoky atmospheres if they want to or enjoy doing so. There are plenty of non smoking bars for non smokers to work in-it’s called freedom of choice!
....: people who work in the leisure sector are exposed to people’s life-threatening habits.
When 83% of the world’s leading studies found no correlation between SHS/Passive Smoking & mortality (including the WHO and our own Health & Safety brigade, what exactly are you referring to by ‘people’s life threatening habits’-walking our towns & cities with the voluminous and highly toxic exhaust fumes?
I remind Government Members that they have just fought and won a general election criticising the then Labour Government for not ending health inequalities in this country. I agree: they did not do away with health inequalities, and some 50% of health inequalities are created by tobacco use.
Explain in detail the term ‘health inequalities’. Is a rich man certain to be healthier than a poor man. Is a northerner likely to be more healthy than a southerner? Is a non smoker guaranteed to be more healthy than a smoker. There is absolutely no evidence that ‘50% of health inequalities are caused by tobacco use’, this is merely an estimation in order to raise eyebrows and ‘strengthen’ anti tobacco’s ‘case’. I would be highly interested to espy your methods of measurement concerning health inequalities!
If Members on the Government Benches are going to continue saying what they said when in opposition, this Bill is the last measure I would expect their Front-Bench team to support, because health inequalities are writ large in tobacco use in this country.
An Australian study of 2004 found that no-smoking areas in licensed premises contained as many tobacco toxins as smoking areas. Even in clubs with completely separate no-smoking rooms there was no material reduction in the levels of harmful toxins in the air. Ventilation systems in smoking areas in rooms that are not fully segregated will not protect people in non-smoking areas. The Select Committee on Health—an all-party Committee, I might add—came to that conclusion.
Ah, at last we get to the SCOTH Committee! All party maybe, but ‘cherry picked’ so as to ensure an overwhelming majority decision that was required before the committee was set up. Two members of the sixteen selected may as well not have bothered turning up as the rest were, in some way, connected to ASH, CRUK, Labour or just plain simple anti tobacco zealots. There was never ever any doubt as to the outcome of that enquiry, especially when the top 26 studies in the world were ignored and the most bizarre results imaginable, produced by a little known scientist (?) Jamrozic were employed. Jamrozic’s statistical work of fiction has been rubbished by many senior, respected statisticians over the years.
It is also the finding of research by D. Kotzias and others at the European Commission Joint Research Centre. We cannot isolate smoking in smoking rooms and think it has no effect elsewhere. That will not work, and it is the reason why the original Health Bill put before the House in 2005 was changed in the House in 2006.
Let us look at the health gains, because that is what this is about. It is not about leisure; it is about the health of the public. Hospitality industry workers have benefited most from the UK legislation. Evaluation (guesswork yet again!) of the Spanish partial ban found that the law had failed to protect them significantly. The most notable health gain for members of the public is the fall in the number of admissions for acute myocardial infarction. Researchers at the university of Bath have calculated that there has been a 5% drop in the number of heart attacks in England, attributable to smoke-free legislation. [Misinformation] This ‘statistical result’ was immediately ‘taken apart by Dr Michael Siegel-himself an anti tobacco zealot, but a gentleman who signed the Brussels Declaration of Scientific Integrity!
The figure was higher for Scotland and it was measured within 12 months of the ban coming into force—as Members will know, the ban was introduced earlier in Scotland than in the rest of the UK.
[Misinformation] And as many MPs ought to be aware of is the fact that the Pell study (Dr Jill Pell) was completely rubbished within 3 days of being released to the world’s media. So embarrassing was the flawed statistical method that the BBC had to issue an apology for using such.
Similar reductions have been observed in other jurisdictions with a comprehensive ban, including New York, Ireland and Italy. Indeed, the Health Committee went to Ireland when taking evidence for our report.
[Misinformation]....None of the three showed any significant reductions in hospital admissions-except when you juggled the figures!
It has also been suggested that having more people smoking out on the street might increase young people’s perception that smoking is a normal adult activity and so increase the number of under-age smokers. In fact, international research shows that smoking bans are associated with reducing smoking among teenage boys in particular, possibly because it is seen as less normal.
[Misinformation]..In actual fact youth smoking is on the increase after decades of slowly diminishing. Tobacco sales are up, smoker prevalence is up and tobacco shares are now considered the safest option for out Council pension funds. Youth smoking in Ireland rose to its highest level ever last year (2009). A recent survey showed that only7% of youth population believed SHS to be any form of threat.
This topic has been debated in the House throughout the decades during which I have been a Member, and I have frequently argued for legislation to de-normalise smoking.
Yes it has Mr Barron and the problem is that ASH have always ruled supreme and you have had very little informed opposition. Now, you cannot stand in the House and tell blatant lies to further your cause. And why should smoking/smokers be denormalised, is denormalisation not a form of dictatorship/tyranny? Is tobacco an illegal plant/substance or is it simply that you find it easier to have a go at smokers than you do heroin addicts?
Some 50% of people who smoke will die a premature death, (and some 50% of non smokers will die prematurely) as well as having suffered from various diseases and all the other burdens they will carry throughout their life (and what burdens may they be Mr Barron?) —and that taxpayers will carry for the rest of their lives in having to treat these people in the NHS. It is sometimes argued that we must recognise that smokers put money into the Treasury as opposed to looking at the ill health that is suffered as a result of tobacco use. That is a ridiculous argument.
Pray tell me what is ridiculous about smokers placing £11bn per annum in Treasury coffers yet only costing the NHS (Treasury funded) £2.7bn per annum? Surely a surplus of £8.3bn is a good business in anyone’s book! You mention ‘the ill health that is suffered as a result of tobacco use’ but are you 100% certain that all diseases contracted by smokers (especially respiratory) are caused solely by smoking? Dr Kitty Little’s extensive research showed that toxicity from our overburdened roads was a major cause of such in the very youngest and frailest of our society. Further to your comment, the overweight members of our society cost the NHS approximately £4.6bn per annum in treatments-do I hear you calling for taxation on beefburgers or banning fatty junk foods, I think not!
It was claimed at the time of the Health Bill that banning smoking in pubs would displace smoking into the home, thereby increasing children’s exposure. The reverse has been true. The proportion of homes in England where smoking is prohibited throughout has increased to 79% and children’s exposure has fallen because of that.
[Misinformation] Where is the nationwide study to back up that assertion Mr Barron? Or are you referring to the totally biased questions on the YouGov internet survey (Peter Kellner-and of course we all know with whom he is partnered!)
I have not got the figures to hand, but recently—within the past 12 months—research has found a link between cot death and smoking. [Misinformation]...SIDS is known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome for the simple reason that there is no known cause for this unfortunate circumstance. The RCP (Royal College of Physicians) came up with this to add weight to the no smoking in cars policy they want implemented). If a baby was found to have died from SHS/Passive smoke inhalation then it would have a determining cause of death on the death certificate-therefore it would not be SIDS!
That affects young children who do not have anything directly to do with cigarettes, but who are exposed to them through passive smoking. It is irresponsible for any Member to stand up in this House and say we should reverse this measure which has led to such great health gains in this country. [Mental pressure on MPs by using the children fallaciously]
Support for smoke-free legislation in England has risen to more then 80% of adults, many of them smokers themselves who agree that this legislation is right. Support has risen fastest among smokers, half of whom support the legislation as it stands. Most smokers believe the law has been good for their health, good for the health of the public and good for the health of most workers.
[Misinformation]...as 25% of the population still enjoy smoking Mr Barron would have us believe that every single non smoker AND 5% of smokers think the ban is a wonderful thing. This 80% figure came about as a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction by ASH to a survey which asked this question: When socialising, do you object to being in the company of smokers? The response was an emphatic 78.8% NO.
It is stated that over the next 10 years the smoking ban will save 40,000 lives.
now just how can that be measured? How does anyone know when they should have died but are still here? This is merely an estimation produced for propaganda purposes that has no proper scientific basis whatsoever. You also say ‘Most smokers......’, have you actually surveyed ‘most smokers’...say eight or nine million people out the fifteen million smokers resident in England? The answer is no, nobody has because nobody ever bothers to ask the smokers themselves-the questions & answers are predetermined by ASH et al and then passed through the media and credited as ‘kosha’.
There is an issue with the effect on business(How deeply?). I have looked at all the evidence and I must say that trying to introduce smoke-free rooms ventilated to the level that would be necessary would have a negative effect on business; there is no way that will benefit businesses.
[Disgraceful Misinformation]...Air Quality management Systems (AQMS) have the ability to filtrate the air to such an extent that the air returned back into a room is 4 x’s cleaner than the air we breathe every day! Hospital theatres already use them to rid the air of such as MRSA. In fact, any venue using such a system would have cleaner air in the smoking section than the non smoking section (proven-Dr Andrew Geens, Glamorgan University and a leading expert on ventilation).
‘.....there is no way it will benefit’ Misinformation yet again.....when Kerry ....... set up her research room in a Barnsley pub the word soon got round that you could smoke & drink in a pub again. By the 5th night she had 48 paying customers as opposed to the one or two she usually served-sheer proof that smokers are needed in pubs. Further proof is the 6,000+ closures since July 1st, 2007. Pubs have suffered war, plague, pestilence, recessions and even drug abusers but have never been forced into closures at anywhere near the rate the smoking ban has caused
Let me finish by discussing the issue of trusting the people. This morning, I found the following words on the hon. Member for Bury North’s website—he has a blog and people post things on it. He said that we should trust the people, and these are the comments of someone called Jim:
“Mr Nuttall, I am a tory voter and a pub landlord, you are so wrong on this and I suggest you use your common sense to drop this headline catching cause.
The smoking ban was one of the few things labour got right in their last reign.”
I dispute that, to some extent. He continued:
“To even suggest undoing it in this manner brings yourself and the party into disrepute. As a landlord my biggest fear about the smoking ban was the proposal you are advocating. In my humble opinion it will create an unfair playing field, that panders to the weak and stupid.
Many people because of the ban have given up smoking, myself included, I do not want to go back to the days of smoky pubs, the blanket ban has worked. My business is proof, I am still trading and making a living”.
I shall not read out the rest, but there are many other comments on the hon. Gentleman’s blog, including some from nurses in his constituency. One of them says that they wished he had put this proposal in his manifesto when he stood for election in May, because they may have then had a different view about the Conservative candidate. I would like to oppose this.
So, Mr Barron has been clever enough to pick the only two anti smoking comments from the blog to present to the house, but does this mysterious “Jim” have a full name or address that can be verified or is it just a ‘plant’ for the glorification of Mr Barron’s argument against reform? Further, did Mr Barron mention any of the hundred or so comments in favour of reform! I don’t think so. It would seem that Mr Barron has total empathy for ‘gay rights’ yet none for ‘smokers rights’-how strange. Perhaps one, or both, contributed to his majority being slashed by 9,000 votes in May.Bill. [Interruption.]