Tobacco White Paper: ASH delighted

Thursday 10 December 1998

ASH/ Press releases/


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Press release10th December 1998
Action on Smoking
and Health

Tobacco White Paper – ASH ‘delighted’


Responding to the announcement of the tobaccoWhite Paper, Clive Bates, Director of ASH commented on some of the issues raised:

Overall reaction….? “We’redelighted. It is the first serious and broad-based assault on the appalling burden ofillness, addiction and death caused by tobacco since scientists first warned of thedangers 40 years ago. Since the war over 6 million have died in Britain from smoking – ithas been a hidden catastrophe.”

Is it the nanny state….? “They’vejudged it really well. Any nannying tendencies have been purged and they have managed toavoid being preachy or patronising.”

Is it an attack on smokers…?“Most smokers say they want to quit, and this offers them concrete support toovercome nicotine addiction – which can be as tough as heroin or cocaine. If people makean informed choice to smoke and don’t harm others, its basically up to them. But it’s hardto argue free choice when someone is addicted and passive smoking harms others.”

Can you stop kids smoking…?“They’ll have to tread very carefully here. Government campaigns can easily inspirecontempt and rebellion in young people – in some ways that is what being a teenager isabout. Stressing the addiction trap and the predatory behaviour of the tobacco industryhas been more successful than conventional health campaigns in the US, and banning tobaccoadvertising will help take some of the pressure off.”

Why is there especially a rise in teenagegirls smoking…? “There are many factors at work here – fashion magazines,films, targeted advertising, supermodels. A large element is probably the increasingconfidence and assertiveness of young women or ‘girrrl’ power. That’s all basically a goodthing, but it’s a shame its expressed through something so damaging and addicting.”

Should they have legislated on smoking inpubs/restaurants…? “We’re hoping that co-operation with the hospitality tradewill deliver results rather than confrontation. Introducing a Bill would have caused analmighty fight with both side digging in around their arguments. However, we are pleasedto see the Government backing up its policy with the threat of legislation if theco-operative approach fails to deliver.”

The best bits…? “The strength isin the comprehensive approach, but tackling smoking among the poorest in society with aproper NHS and community-based approach will do so much to improve lives blighted bytobacco and poverty. This is the key to reversing the worsening trend in healthinequalities.”

Is it fair to ban smoking in theworkplace…? “No-one should have to endure other people’s tobacco smoke while attheir desk or work-bench. It can have effects ranging from minor irritation to fatalconditions like heart disease and lung cancer. The consultation on smoking can only bewelcomed if it leads to a broad presumption against smoking when people are at work.

Smoking prevalence targets… “Modesttargets that are achievable are certainly better than sensational targets that are missedby miles, as experienced by the last Government. But we would want to know what actionwill be taken if the targets are going to be missed.

What about the money…? “It looks as though significant sums will be spent onthe new policy. However, its value will depend on what’s included in the budget and what’sin the fine print. The expenditure still does not come close to the amount spent dealingwith illegal drug use.

What about tax and smuggling…? It isvery reassuring that the Government has brushed off pressure from the tobacco industry toabandon its sensible health and fiscal policy of raising tobacco taxes. Smuggling is a lawand order issue and should be dealt with by increasing spending on law enforcement, notlowering taxes.

Will the ad-ban be overturned by the tobaccoindustry or German government…? “The tobacco industry are using an expensivelegal strategy to try to discredit the tobacco advertising ban. For the Germans, it was apiece of electioneering. For both it is basically public relations – the professionallegal services of the European Commission, Parliament and Council of Ministers have giventhe green light to the Directive in its current form. We are confident that it is alegitimate piece of harmonising legislation.”

International…? “As life getsharder for the tobacco industry in Europe and North America, they’ve been heading for thethird world. We should let British companies do things in Asia, Latin America and Africathat wouldn’t be acceptable here. A WHO convention is one way to apply global regulationof the tobacco industry.

Any grumbles…? We could always demandfaster ad-bans, more money and tougher measures, but what they’ve done is really good, farmore than any government in British history and we think it will be popular with thepublic.


Contact Clive Bates, Director (020) 7739 5902

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