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Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment has been made of the NHS smoking cessation campaign; what plans there are to assist the campaign; and if he will make a statement. [128763]

The current tobacco education campaign was launched in December 1999, following the publication of the White Paper, 'Smoking kills' and is aimed at persuading and helping smokers to give up and non-smokers, particularly children not to start.A number of different measures are in place to evaluate the effectiveness of the "Don't Give Up Giving Up" advertising campaign. These include prevalence surveys, quarterly tracking research, monitoring calls to the national health service smoking helpline, evaluation of media coverage and helpline referrals to local services.Headline results from the latest tracking study among 1,275 smokers—which took place in February 2003—are as follows:

  • 59 per cent. spontaneous awareness of advertising campaign;
  • 93 per cent. prompted awareness;
  • 49 per cent. of smokers taking action as result of seeing adverts; and
  • 51 per cent. of smokers more likely to give up as a result of seeing the advertising.

The monitoring of calls to the NHS smoking helpline show that, from June 2000 to 2 September 2003, over 759,000 smokers called the NHS smoking helpline. Over 22,400 of these calls can be attributed to the introduction this year of the new starker health warnings on cigarette packets, one of which gives the NHS helpline number.

The Department is extending its campaign this year by informing people about the risks from second-hand smoke, the risk of less publicised diseases caused by smoking, and through funding charities, starting with Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation, to run hard hitting campaigns.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on further steps which he intends to take to combat smoking and tobacco use. [129485]

We are implementing a comprehensive tobacco programme to help the seven in 10 smokers who want to quit and to prevent people starting to smoke. As well as introducing legislation, we are investing £138 million in national health service `Stop Smoking' services over the next three years and expanding our information and education campaigns to address second-hand smoke as well as cessation.We are working with key charities, including the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK, and are providing £15 million over three years to carry out hard-hitting media campaigns.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans the Government has to legislate to prevent tobacco companies placing features with their logos in magazines. [130059]

The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002 prohibits the publishing of an advertisement which has the purpose or effect of promoting a tobacco product in the United would be for a court to decide in each case whether a magazine feature which included a tobacco company logo constituted a tobacco advertisement.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his Department plans to do to educate the public further into the health risks associated with smoking. [130067]

The Department is expanding its public information campaign to highlight the dangers of smoking and tobacco smoke through a wider range of media. This includes highlighting diseases caused by smoking not covered in the campaign so far. Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation will also be launching campaigns funded by the Department.The new warnings on cigarette packs have made a significant impact already in getting health messages to smokers. These will be legally required on all packs from 30 September 2003 and on non-cigarette tobacco products such as cigars from 30 September 2004.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many smoking cessation co-ordinators there are in the NHS; and what the target is for the number of co-ordinators in 2004–05. [130068]

109 smoking cessation co-ordinators (whole time equivalent) were in post at 31 March 2002 and 66 staff were responsible for co-ordinating services for pregnant women. Shifting the balance of power from central to local decision making means that primary care trusts now have responsibility in negotiating with their respective strategic health authorities for co-ordinator posts. Targets are not set for numbers of co-ordinators.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans there are to extend the use of Zyban (a) on prescription-only and (b) over the counter. [130168]

No application to extend the use or change the legal status of Zyban has been made to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much it costs per smoker for the NHS to assist someone to give up smoking. [130169]

Data collected from the NHS stop smoking services and published in the Department's Statistical Bulletin—Statistics on smoking cessation services in England, April 2001 to March 2002, tables 8&9—show the average cost for the national health service to assist someone to give up smoking in 2001–02 was around £210 (based on self report). Costs including nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or bupropion (Zyban) are not centrally collected.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance on the use of NRT and bupropion for smoking cessation, published in March 2002, estimated the cost of life year gained for a smoker using either NRT or bupropion in addition to brief advice would be not more than £1,000. NICE guidance advised that both NRT and bupropion were considered to be among the most cost effective of all healthcare interventions.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will take steps to limit by legislation the amount of freebase nicotine in tobacco products. [130171]

Levels of nicotine are currently regulated by the Tobacco Products (Manufacture, Presentation and Sale) (Safety) Regulations 2002. As of 1 January 2004, the maximum permitted yield of nicotine in cigarettes will be one milligram. This is measured in accordance with the International Standards Organisation's methodology. The Regulations implement a European Directive which is due to be reviewed in 2004 in the light of any updated scientific evidence.However, experimental work for the Department in 2000–01 has indicated that the current International Standards Organisation's methodology used for determining tar and nicotine yields of cigarettes traps over 99 per cent. of nicotine present in cigarette smoke of major brands on the United Kingdom market. Therefore at that time there was no evidence that freebase nicotine posed a problem in UK cigarette brands.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans the Government have to restrict the amount of (a) ammonia and (b) urea in cigarettes. [130172]

Ammonium compounds and urea are currently permitted in United Kingdom cigarettes under the terms of a voluntary agreement concluded in 1997. The European Commission is expected to propose a common list of permitted ingredients in tobacco products by the end of 2004. We will consider the status of all permitted additives to tobacco products in the light of this proposal.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to recommend a ban on smoking in (a) domestic television programmes and (b) films classified as 15 or under. [130173]

I have been asked to reply.The Government have no plans to ban the depiction of smoking in domestic television programmes or films classified as 15 or under. Tobacco products may not be actively promoted by way of sponsorship or product placement in either medium. Beyond that, the depiction of smoking in television programmes is already discouraged and otherwise responsibly regulated by the broadcasting regulatory authorities. Film classification is the responsibility of the British Board of Film Classification whose research into public views on classification has not indicated that the portrayal of smoking is a concern.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many smoking cessation project co-ordinators have been appointed in each primary care trust. [130320]

The information is not available centrally in the form requested. One hundred and nine smoking cessation co-ordinators (whole time equivalent) were in post at 31 March 2002 and 66 staff were responsible for co-ordinating services for pregnant women.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations he has received regarding the television advertisement anti-smoking campaign showing children inhaling smoke. [127690]

The Department has received four letters making representations regarding this television advertisement.The advertisement, which uses special effects to represent children exhaling smoke, focuses on the risk to children and reminds people to protect children by not making them breathe cigarette smoke.Unlike adults, young children do not have any choice about whether or not they are exposed to tobacco smoke. In the UK today, it is estimated that 42 per cent. of children—"Towards Smoke-Free Public Places", British Medical Association publication (November 2002)—live in a house where at least one person smokes, and approximately one third of smokers continue to smoke near children: over 4 million people.