HC Deb 25 March 1963 vol 674 cc938-9
31. Mr. Pavitt

asked the Minister of Health what further action he proposes to take in order that the posters published by his Department in pursuance of the declared policy of Her Majesty's Government concerning smoking and lung cancer shall be exhibited on advertising sites.

Mr. Powell

I have nothing to add to my reply to the hon. Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton) on 28th January.

Mr. Pavitt

Is this not an intolerable situation where Government policy is flouted by the joint censorship committee of the British poster industry, and cannot the Minister consult his colleagues to see about having some response to this by perhaps withdrawing poster advertising from other departments to make some sanction on the industry in view of its intransigent action? Is the Minister aware that the reason it gives is the failure to prove the fact of the causation of cancer by smoking, and, if that is so, what justification would it have in claiming that "Guinness is good for you", because it has no proof of that either?

Mr. Powell

I am in communication with the committee and I must agree that the reason it gives is a remarkably silly one, and that is that there is a difference between the proposition that cigarette smoking is a cause of lung cancer and that cigarettes cause lung cancer. It is my hope to bring them to see this.

Mr. Lipton

Why is it taking so long to conduct these negotiations upon which the right hon. Gentleman has been engaged to my knowledge for many weeks, if not months? Is it not quite a scandalous state of affairs that a private organisation should take upon itself to censor what the Government see fit to publish?

Mr. Powell

It is a matter for the poster owners how they conduct their business. I am in communication with this committee, and I have nothing further to add at the moment.

Mr. Shinwell

While expressing every sympathy with those who wish to reduce the effects of smoking so far as lung cancer is concerned, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that what with attempts to stop smoking, what with some people being determined to stop drinking, and what with the curtailment of supplementary questions, life is hardly worth living?

Mr. K. Robinson

Will the right hon. Gentleman try to overcome this difficulty by buying some time on commercial television for anti-smoking advertisements?

Mr. Powell

This is a responsibility of the local health authorities as part of their health education duties. It is their channels which I am seeking to broaden by my negotiations with this committee.