§ 6. Mr. Robathan
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made on the targets set in "The Health of the Nation" in respect of encouraging (a) exercise and (b) a healthy life style. 
§ Mr. Robathan
"The Health of the Nation" report rightly stresses the importance of physical activity and exercise—to follow on from the last question. Will my hon. Friend speak to his colleagues at the Departments of Transport, of the Environment, and for Education and Employment and ask them to encourage people to walk and to bicycle rather than to use private cars? Will my hon. Friend note especially that only 2 per cent. of schoolchildren in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesham (Mr. Arnold), as elsewhere, now bicycle to school, whereas a huge number travel by private car? Does my hon. Friend believe that the House could set a better example and can he think of anybody who could set a better example in physical exercise?
§ Mr. Bowis
I cannot think what my hon. Friend means. The basic thrust of his energetic question is right. Moderate exercise is what is required, and a modest increase in the level of exercise taken by all of us would be beneficial. School sports certainly have a part to play— 773 which is why it is such a pity that, not so many years ago, Labour authorities such as the Inner London education authority banned competitive sports.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes
In "The Health of the Nation", published in 1992, the Government set a target for reducing smoking by 11 to 15-year-olds by 33 per cent. within two years—by 1994. In fact, over that period smoking in that age group that rose by 20 per cent, according to a survey at the end of last year—especially among girls. When will the Government follow the advice of the chief medical officer and support a ban on tobacco advertising? When will they support the Bill which hon. Members on both sides of the House, including me, are promoting to discourage youngsters from smoking? Without that, youngsters will keep smoking throughout adult life and kill themselves much earlier.
§ Mr. Bowis
It is certainly true that not smoking is part of a healthy life style, but the hon. Gentleman is not quite right about 11 to 15-year-olds. Over the 10 years to 1994, there was a slight decrease in smoking among young boys, while the figure for young girls remained steady. That is not good enough; I want to reduce the numbers.
All the evidence shows that it is not advertising, but price and parental example, that has an impact. On that basis, we are setting an example that the rest of Europe should follow.
§ Mr. Garnier
With regard to the target set in "The Health of the Nation", will my hon. Friend encourage and commend the work of district nurses, community health nurses and school nurses, especially those employed by the Fosse health trust in Leicestershire, who have done a tremendous amount of work to encourage all sections of the community, from schoolchildren to elderly people, to take moderate, healthy exercise so as to fulfil the targets to which my hon. Friend the Member for Blaby (Mr. Robathan) referred?
§ Mr. Bowis
My hon. and learned Friend is right. We seek not a maoist regime of collective physical jerks but an informed society of people with the facts about exercise and life styles, who can then decide for themselves and their families what to do. There is clear evidence, as my hon. and learned Friend rightly says, that the nursing community plays its part in this. If we can get across the message about moderate exercise, moderate drinking, knowing how to cope with stress, and cutting out tobacco and drugs, we shall end up with a healthier nation that will meet "The Health of the Nation" targets.
§ Mr. Barron
The targets for smoking among 11 to 15-year-olds set by "The Health of the Nation" were for a total of 6 per cent., but the figure is currently double that, so the Government are clearly failing to dissuade teenagers from starting to smoke. On the eve of national no-smoking day, what further action do the Government propose to take, given that they are clearly failing our young people?
§ Mr. Bowis
The hon. Gentleman is right to refer to national no-smoking day, which we confidently expect to lead to another 40,000 people giving up. He will also want to welcome the work being done in the campaign to persuade people to stop smoking, or not to start it, and in 774 the three-year campaign, about to start in April, aimed at young people. The Government, the health service and the nation make tremendous efforts to persuade young people to understand the facts about smoking; and we reinforce that with a price mechanism which results in part from the Chancellor's commitment to an annual 3 per cent. real terms increase in tobacco prices. Price and example are the ways to stop young people smoking and persuade them not to start.
§ Mr. Neil Hamilton
Is my hon. Friend aware that the oldest person in the world, Jeanne Calment, recently celebrated her 121st birthday and reportedly gave up smoking at the age of 117? Does he think that there are lessons in that for a healthy life style? If so, what are they?