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January 15th, 2015:

Extracts of the House of Lords’ discussion of smoking as part of a debate on the London Health Commission.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath (Lab):

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It is coincidental, though I would like to think that we planned it together, that the Labour party today announced the public health programme that we wish to take forward post-election. It is very much dual-pronged in the sense that we see a really positive role in, rather than finger-wagging at adults, actually helping them to be empowered with information to make healthier choices and supported to get active, along with all the other things needed to improve their health. However, in the case of children, we wish to see statutory action and we particularly emphasise maximum limits to be set on levels of fat, salt and sugar in food marketed substantially to children. That would have a very big impact on obesity issues, alongside many more programmes around lifestyle in schools, particularly in physical activity.

On smoking, we wish to reduce smoking prevalence to 10% by 2025. We will have a goal that children born in 2015 will become the first smoke-free generation in hundreds of years. I was very proud to move the amendment to ban smoking in cars with children and I received support from almost every noble Lord present in the debate today. It was very good to see. I was struck by the overwhelming public support for that measure: it shows that the public will support these kinds of measures. We are also keen to introduce a levy on tobacco companies to be used to ensure that they make a greater contribution to the cost of tackling tobacco-related harm.


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con):

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The issue of standardised packaging for tobacco has been raised by almost every Peer who has spoken. I want to be clear that the Government have not made a final decision on whether to introduce legislation for standardised packaging. We held a final, short consultation that closed in August and the results are informing decision-making. It is important that the Government have time to carefully consider all issues relevant to the policy. I assure noble Lords that a decision will be made in due course. However, in saying that, I reassure your Lordships that we in the Department of Health are, as I speak, very actively working towards a decision. The draft regulations for standardised packaging were notified to the European Commission under the technical standards directive on 29 August. We have received detailed opinions from 11 member states, which extends the “standstill” period to six months. This will expire on 2 March 2015 and until then we are unable to make regulations, although I hear what the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, says about laying regulations.

Source: Hansard – 15 January 2015, Column GC298