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GORDON HENDERSON MP

FOR SITTINGBOURNE & SHEPPEY

MP supports campaign to reduce the number of people who smoke

19th December 2010
MP supports campaign to reduce the number of people who smoke

In December 2010, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley MP set out the government's plans to transform public health in England and Wales. The aims of the coalition are worthy ones, and I support measures to improve the health of our whole nation. Key priorities are to reduce the number of people who smoke, and the number of people who start smoking, and I support effective measures to deal with these issues.

The last government passed a law to ban the display of tobacco products in shops, arguing that it would help to reduce smoking. However, evidence from abroad does not support this conclusion. Both coalition partners pledged before the election to review the ban, but so far nothing has been done. Indeed, a decision on the ban's future was delayed by Mr Lansley in his recent statement.

In Ireland, Canada and Iceland, where tobacco display bans have been in place for some time, the evidence is stark. Not only has smoking not been reduced, but small businesses have been hit very hard. I am deeply concerned that a ban would damage small shopkeepers here in my constituency, in some cases forcing them out of business due to the high costs of converting their shops and the loss of trade that would follow, including by possibly pushing consumers to change their buying habits to purchasing from major supermarkets. That would damage communities, reduce choice for customers and increase unemployment.

Many of my fellow MP's, including members of the All-Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group, are supporting a petition coordinated by Mike Weatherley MP, assisted by the National Federation of Retail Newsagents. It calls on the Government to reconsider the ban by undertaking a full re-examination of the evidence both for and against a ban before a final decision is taken and to delay indefinitely implementation of the law in the meantime.

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