The House of Lords has voted to ban displays of cigarettes and other tobacco products following a lively debate on the Health Bill on Wednesday (May 6th).
Cancer Research UK carried out key research which it provided to the lords on the issues involved, and was actively involved in sending out briefings and liaising with key opinion leaders.
Among the issues discussed by Peers were Conservative proposals to remove the key clause on putting tobacco out of sight, crossbench proposals to completely ban tobacco vending machines and a crossbench/Lib Dem sponsored amendment giving ministers the power to introduce plain packaging for tobacco products.
All three of these issues featured in Cancer Research UK’s Out of Sight, Out of Mind campaign, as well as the charity’s other wider work on tobacco control.
The amendment to the tobacco display proposal was defeated by a margin of almost 2:1, meaning that the proposal will pass on to the Commons.
Opponents argued that a display ban would harm corner shops, but the amendment was voted down by 204 to 110.
However, the amendment to outlaw cigarette vending machines was unexpectedly voted down by Peers, meaning that the original proposal – to fit vending machines with age-restriction mechanisms – will stand.
Baroness Thornton told the House: “We are satisfied that there are benefits to removing displays: it will remove the promotion of smoking to children and support those people who want to quit. We are convinced that removal is the right and responsible decision.”
She also said: “I finish by commending the work of organisations such as Cancer Research UK, ASH and the British Medical Association, which have worked hard to provide us with the evidence we need to tackle smoking.
“Removing tobacco displays is another important step towards a tobacco-free world, one where children are protected and people who want to quit are supported to do so.”
Cancer Research UK has also been campaigning for a complete ban on vending machines and hopes to influence the legislation when it reaches the House of Commons after the Lords failed to vote through an amendment to the existing proposal.
Suggested amendments on plain packaging and the tobacco industry’s interference in policymaking were debated but not put to a vote.
Richard Davidson, Cancer Research UK’s director of policy and public affairs, welcomed the outcome of the Lords’ vote on shop displays of tobacco.
“Protecting children and young people from tobacco marketing is key to helping stop another generation becoming addicted to a product that kills half of all long-term users,” he said.
“Putting tobacco out of sight will help to put tobacco out of mind, and this will help towards the goal of a smokefree future.
“We now urge the House of Commons to show the same commitment to health that the Lords have.”
However, Mr Davidson noted: “We are disappointed that the Lords voted against getting rid of vending machines – prohibition is the only guaranteed way to prevent underage children from using them.”