§ Mr. Molloy
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many of the recommendations of the Expert Committee of the World Health Organisation on 799W smoking and its effects on health the Government have adopted already; how many they are considering adopting.
§ Dr. Owen
The main recommendation of the Expert Committee was that where a serious health problem associated with smoking existed the Government should establish appropriate machinery to coordinate and supervise specific programmes for the control and prevention of tobacco smoking.
In this country there is a very serious health problem associated with smoking especially from cigarettes, and the Government have given their view that machinery analogous to that provided for in the Medicines Act is needed to deal with it. Proposals to this end are at present being discussed with the tobacco industry, and information about them has been given to the Independent Scientific Committee on Smoking and Health—The Hunter Committee—and the Medicines Commission. The Government do not intend to use the machinery to prevent tobacco smoking as suggested by the Expert Committee but rather to reduce the risks to health from smoking and to discourage the habit.
Similarly, they would not wish to go as far as the Expert Committee recommends in protecting non-smokers from the annoyance and, in some cases, risk to their health from tobacco smoke, by prohibitions and regulations, but would prefer to rely upon people's good sense and public pressure.
Advice on the policy to be followed in hospitals and other health premises and by health workers while on duty is at present being discussed with health authorities, and professional and other bodies concerned.
Many of the detailed recommendations of the Expert Committee are for health educational activities, and while the Government see much merit in them there is a limit to what can be done at the present time within the overall NHS budget, and in the context of a very extensive promotional activity by the industry.