Amendment No. 1 is in the name of Deputy Boland. Amendment No. 3 is cognate and we will discuss Nos. 1 and 3 together.
Tobacco Products (Control of Advertising, Sponsorship and Sales Promotion) Bill, 1978: Committee Stage.
I move amendment No. 1:
In page 2, subsection (1), line 38, to delete "may" and substitute "shall".
My reason for tabling the amendment is that this Bill, as with a number of measures, is revolving entirely around the power given to the Minister to make regulations. If regulations are not made the legislation is useless because the Bill does nothing more than give power to the Minister to make the regulations. I am not particularly concerned as to whether the change of "may" to "shall" should be in subsection (1) or subsection (2).
Subsection (1) gives the Minister discretionary power to make regulations in relation to the control of advertising while subsection (2) gives him discretionary power to include all or any of a number of requirements in the regulations. From the point of view of the legislation it would have been better if the regulations which, I understand the Minister has ready, had been set out in the Bill. Also, from the point of view of parliament this would be a better way of introducing legislation instead of giving the Minister carte blanche to make regulations which the House may never have an opportunity of discussing. For that reason I considered it would be more appropriate that “may” be changed to “shall” either in subsection (1) or subsection (2).
I regret that I am not in a position to accept this amendment. However, I do not think there is any great difference between what Deputy Boland and I intend. He appears to agree that the situation regarding the advertising of tobacco products and the promotion of their sales and sponsorship should be controlled and regulated. I am giving myself some flexibility in this situation. That is desirable. It may well be that in some areas there may never be a need for regulations. The people concerned might agree voluntarily to cease certain types of activity in which case it would be pointless to go to the trouble and expense of making statutory regulations that were unnecessary. On the other hand I visualise the making of regulations. That is almost certain but from my own point of view concerning the situation as it is now and from the point of view of successive Ministers it is desirable and indeed necessary to have the flexibility which the word "may" permits.
The Minister is being somewhat less than forthcoming. He knows as well as I know that not only is he likely to make regulations under this Bill but that the draft of those regulations has been ready for some time in the Department.
While not going all the way with the Deputy, I have said that I will be making regulations.
But the Minister has just said that regulations may not be necessary.
In some areas.
The point is that the regulations are ready. Not only in relation to this Bill but in relation to legislation generally, it would be preferable that if regulations have been prepared they should be included in the Bill because the real power is in the regulations. In this case if the regulations had been set out in subsection (2) the House would have had the opportunity of determining exactly what the Minister intended. The other point is that, carried to its absurdity, the Minister is faced with a challenge that was put to him by some speakers on Second Stage, that was, that he was not in earnest in relation to the Bill and that he might never put it into effect. Taking the Bill literally the Minister will have no obligation to put the measure into effect because of the use in the double context both in subsections (1) and (2) of the word "may". Therefore, the accusation could be levelled again at the Minister——I hasten to add not by me——that he does not intend to implement the provisions of the Bill, that after its enactment the regulations may not be published or implemented for some considerable time, if at all, that difficulties might be put forward as a reason for the regulations not being implemented, and that the justification for that situation could be that the first line of subsection (1) and the second line of subsection (2) contains the word "may" which is of a discretionary nature rather than the word "shall" which would be mandatory. However, as the Minister has indicated his unwillingness to accept the amendment, there is no point in pursuing the matter further.
As amendments Nos. 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 are related they may be discussed together but with separate decisions if necessary.
I move amendment No. 2:
In page 2, subsection (1), lines 38 and 39, to delete "control and regulation" and substitute "banning".
In tabling these amendments it was my intention to emphasise the fact that if we are serious about the adverse effects of tobacco advertising and sponsorship, if we really mean to implement what is intended in this Bill, we should not adopt any half-way measure. To my way of thinking the phrase "to control and regulate" means that we will tolerate the situation and will not eliminate it. That is why I am proposing the substitution of the word "banning" in this context. As the subsection stands we are giving tacit approval to the advertising of tobacco products. There is a precedent for banning such advertising. It has been banned from radio and television so what is the reason for the discrepancy in relation to other media? We should be resolute regarding what we intend and our intention should be the banning of advertising which promotes the qualities and properties of cigarettes and other tobacco products. The only way to discourage the use of these products is to ban advertisements relating to them. We are not saying that we will ban tobacco from the country. All we are saying is that we will stop its promotion in any form. The amendment, therefore, is not unreasonable. It might pose problems for the Minister but I should like to hear his views on it and to have some indication from him of what is meant by the use of the words "control and regulate".
I am very much in sympathy with the thinking behind the amendment but I am sure that there are many others as well as myself who would be happy to witness a total disappearance from our community environment of the promotion of sales of cigarettes in particular. Anybody who knows anything about the situation would like to see cigarette smoking ended but we must deal with reality. We are not dealing with automatons but with human beings and when we are trying to persuade the community to adopt a certain course of action we must use some discretion. It would be easy to be counter-productive in this area, to set up a hostility and a reaction to what we are endeavouring to achieve. The most reasonable and rational people will resent any attempt to force them into certain forms of activity or to prohibit certain practices to which they believe they are entitled. On the whole we must proceed wisely and with a great deal of common sense and sensitivity.
I expect that in the future, whether it be within five, ten or 20 years, what we are talking about now will be looked back on with astonishment. People will be astonished that we even argued about whether we should take any action regarding cigarette smoking. In the course of time common sense will prevail in this area. We have to deal with the situation we see in front of us, that is, a situation where we have an on-going industry giving a certain amount of employment. There are a number of bodies, such as sporting organisations, which have come to rely on sponsorship by tobacco companies. I do not think it would be wise, healthy or sensible ultimately to blunder into this situation and be completely dictatorial, autocratic and arbitrary. Severity in itself in this area could be counter-productive.
What we have to do is proceed step by step. We must first recognise that the existing situation is completely out of control. Our environment is being saturated with advertising and promotion activities of all sorts. We must get some kind of control imposed on the situation. Having established control, we must slowly but steadily reduce the impact of advertising, try to eliminate all the seductiveness, persuasiveness and attractiveness which is embodied in the present advertising of tobacco. We have to try and inculcate the belief that smoking cigarettes is not smart or sophisticated——in fact, it is damned stupid and silly. We have to understand that this message must be put across to the people in a rational way.
Like my colleagues I mix in the community and know that ordinary rational members of society instinctively react against a heavy hand by the authorities, by the Government, by the bureaucracy. They have to be persuaded that what we are endeavouring to do is worth the interference with people's liberty, with the freedom of action that is involved. At the moment in any sample group of people you would get approval for what we are doing here, but you would have to put the case very firmly before them.
I want to make it clear to Deputy O'Connell that I am in total agreement with his ultimate approach, with what he would like ultimately to achieve, but I think what I am proposing is the better way to do it, given all the circumstances that exist. I want the Deputy to accept that I am not concerned with commercial pressures from the tobacco companies. I am more concerned with endeavouring to see that our policies in this health education area have popular approval and support and that we do not give the appearance of being arbitrary, dictatorial and autocratic. That is the general background to what I propose.
I want to assure the Deputy that while I am not prepared at this stage to accept the word "banning", sooner or later we will work around to a total ban in this area. In the meantime what I am asking for will give me enough power to do what I want——control and regulate. Ultimately, if those powers to control and regulate are sufficiently availed of, we will have power to go as near to banning as makes no difference. If we use the word "ban"it would place me in a very severe straitjacket and give me no room to manoeuvre. There would be an immediate clampdown and that would cause a certain amount of upset and disruption to a number of innocent bystanders, people on the fringe of this area, who are not making great profits out of the sale of tobacco. I hope the Deputy accepts that I do not intend dallying on this but I want to proceed wisely, firstly to get the situation under control and then gradually to bring about a situation which everybody would regard as satisfactory.
There will be some things which will disappear almost immediately, for instance, advertising in cinemas, which has either gone or is on the way out. Next to go will be a very compelling form of promotion——outdoor advertising. At the same time we will proceed on all fronts to control the content of advertisements, the level of attractiveness and persuasiveness and the overall limits of expenditure, with the idea of eventually getting the whole situation completely under control.
As I said at the beginning, I sympathise with what Deputy O'Connell and Deputy Browne have in mind in this amendment, but without rejecting the principle of the desirability ultimately of banning everything, at this stage, I would need the flexibility which the use of the words "control and regulation" give me in the section.
What must be clear at the beginning is that we are not restricting the freedom of individual smokers.
I accept that.
We are talking about controlling advertising, but there is nothing in the Bill to indicate that there could be a 25 per cent reduction in advertising each year, until advertising is eliminated in four years. If we got that kind of assurance we could proceed with a certain amount of enthusiasm. We have to make up our minds whether we want to see concerted attempts by the tobacco companies to promote the sale of cigarette smoking. They rely on the Pavlovian effect on the person who is thinking of giving up cigarette smoking or who has given it up. They produce very seductive advertising which makes people crave for cigarettes again. They are undoing all the work of the Health Education Bureau and other organisations and bodies. They are also undoing the determined efforts of individual members of the public who seriously want to give up cigarette smoking. It is their intention to step up their advertising within the framework set out by the Minister. I can see this only as commercial pressure with vested interests saying they will not tolerate it.
Who is in command of this country? Dáil Éireann or the vested interests? They can undermine any attempts made by the Minister to curb advertising. The Minister is manacled. He is muzzled. He finds himself in an impossible situation. He came in here with the best intentions in the world, but he finds that he cannot put his ideas and his thoughts into effect on this issue. He should say to the tobacco companies that he will not bow to sectional interests. There is a precedent for that. A former Minister for Health arranged to have cigarette advertising on radio and television banned. It took ministerial power and authority to get that done. Had the Minister succumbed to the pressures of the tobacco companies at that time, we would not have got that done. It takes a Minister with courage and determination to say: "No. This far shalt thou go and no further."
That is all I am asking the Minister to do.
Could we have an amendment which would give us an assurance that in four years time all tobacco advertising will cease, in other words, phasing out all tobacco advertising over the next four years? The Minister said the industry is giving a certain amount of employment. That is a very poor argument. If we think it is giving a certain amount of employment, we should scrap the Health Education Bureau. On that premise, the Health Education Bureau are doing a lot of harm to this industry and therefore we wonder are they seriously jeopardising an important industry. We have to make up our minds. Is the Minister saying we should tell the Health Education Bureau to stop undermining this industry which is giving a certain amount of employment? The Minister said it is dictatorial and autocratic. On that premise, this whole Bill is dictatorial and autocratic. We are trying to stop the promotion of tobacco advertising.
The Deputy cannot have it both ways. If I am manacled and imprisoned I cannot be dictatorial and autocratic.
This is a watered-down Bill. The Minister's intention was first rate but this is an abortive effort—I have to say that and I do not mean anything personal—at ending the pernicious habit of smoking or to wean people off cigarettes by not allowing seductive advertising. That is what they are trying to do.
We will do it. Do not worry.
I have heard that kind of promise in Dáil Éireann before by so many Ministers, not only by the Minister.
Legislation was not before the House.
Legislation is a peculiar thing. I am very cynical about legislation.
I gather that.
I have seen so many Bills going on the Statute Book and never being implemented in practice. Over two years ago we passed a drug abuse Bill. It has been signed and it is now an Act, but it has had no effect whatsoever because the enabling legislation has not been introduced. This is appalling. There are escape clauses in Bills. That is a futile, empty procedure.
Why should I bring in a futile Bill?
What happened to the drug abuse Bill? By the way, this is a drug abuse Bill so there is nothing irrelevant in what I am saying.
The Deputy is making his statement and the Minister will be given an opportunity to reply. The Deputy appreciates that we are discussing amendments Nos. 4, 5, 6 and 7 with amendment No. 2.
How is that relevant? I am aware of that. The Minister spoke for almost 25 minutes so I hope my contribution will not be curtailed. In this Bill we are dealing with a drug, so it is not irrelevant to refer to a drug abuse Bill when we are discussing the merits of this amendment. We are either serious about this or we are not. If we are not serious this is a charade. I see in it a public relations exercise without giving the Bill the teeth which are needed to end tobacco advertising once and for all. The Minister may control and regulate. He may make regulations for control and regulation. The real power goes out of a Bill when regulations take over.
We have the interesting example of the drug abuse Act which cannot come into effect, even though it was passed two years ago, because the necessary enabling legislation has not been brought into the House. What was the purpose of all the deliberations in the special committee of the House on drug abuse? I spent many hundreds of hours on that committee, and the fact that the Act has not come into effect after two years is a terrible indictment of the whole process of legislating in this House.
Stick to this Bill.
We are seeing a repetition of that charade in this Bill.
Will the Deputy let me in to reply?
The Minister will not get on his feet again until I have made my point clear and very plain. I listened to the Minister's arguments and to his very good intentions.
I took time because I wanted to explain the Bill fully.
There is no time limit so long as time is not abused.
We cannot proceed unless we know what the purpose of the Bill is. The Minister's sincerity would be more in evidence if he would bring in an amendment on Report Stage ending the advertising and promotion of tobacco products, or phasing out the advertising of tobacco over the next four years. He is very sure in his mind about what he wants done. He wants to end this pernicious habit. There are thousands and thousands who literally cannot kick the habit. I advise such patients, but you cannot be autocratic and dictatorial. I am not talking about the public. I am talking about the vested interests who have got at this Bill.
The Deputy is wrong.
They have decided the Bill will not have the necessary teeth. It is a terrible reflection on us as legislators if we allow them to do that. The public will make up their own minds. All I am saying is that this seductive, persuasive advertising should not continue. The people can decide for themselves. No sustained effort should be made by tobacco advertising to undermine the determination of people who want to give up smoking, or to undermine the laudable campaign by the Health Education Bureau. If the Minister could bring in an amendment to that effect I would be happy with it.
The Minister said that he was not restricting the liberties of individuals, that he was not being dictatorial or autocratic in this, that severity could be counter-productive. I fail to see where the severity could be counter-productive because if it is a severe measure to ban advertising how could it be counter-productive because one is not restricting the sale?
In that context I was thinking more of sponsorship. The Deputy's amendment would cover banning sponsorship totally.
That is right. As the Minister is aware, I have an amendment down which could replace it very well and the Minister is also aware that there is quite a considerable amount of revenue to the State from the sale of tobacco products. If the Minister is as persuasive with his colleague in the Department of Finance as he is with many of his colleagues in his own Department I have no doubt he could be successful in having a national sports sponsorship council set up to take over the function of sponsoring sporting events. That could be done. In putting this amendment down to ban sponsorship I was not just being negative about it; I suggested that a national sports sponsorship council be set up to take over that function. The Minister would probably agree that would be the logical answer. The revenue accruing to the State from the sale of cigarettes could be used for this purpose and indeed it would be a very laudable thing to do. In fact I am not just being negative; I am not just saying that the Minister is autocratic or dictatorial as he seems to think but I cannot accept what the Minister says about the industry giving a certain amount of employment. If that is what he is saying then we may as well stop and go out and drink coffee instead and abandon this Bill. If the Minister says that the industry gives a certain amount of employment, therefore on that premise alone the Minister is wrong in having the Health Education Bureau do what it is doing because it will undermine that industry. We cannot have it both ways. We have got to be very sensible about it. If the Minister would give me an assurance that advertising will stop within four years I will be very happy to withdraw the amendment.
The first thing I want to say is that the way of the reformer is always very hard and very difficult. I have constantly found that in the course of my long and illustrious political career.
As a reformer?
Illustrious in quotation marks.
When the reformer tries to bring in and propound reforming legislation he meets the total opposition of all those who do not want reform under any circumstances. Then when he brings forth his modest proposals he is immediately belaboured around the head by all those who want reformation to the effect that he is not going far enough, he should have done more, this is a paltry measure and of no use. So the poor reformer always falls right between two stools. He never gets any credit from anybody; he gets abuse and attack from those who do not want reform of any sort and he gets equal and often more vitriolic abuse and attack from those who say his reforms are not going far enough.
Give him a penny.
I was not vitriolic.
No, but the others were. I want Deputy O'Connell to accept totally that there is no commercial pressure operating to influence the contents of this Bill.
Therefore the Minister's job is easier.
My job is never easy, between satisfying the opponents on the one hand and those on the other hand who would say I am not going far enough. The tobacco industry do not want this Bill. Let us be absolutely clear about that. They would much prefer to go on as before and fair play to them; they are commercial interests and they want to maximise the profits of their undertakings. They would prefer no constraints at all on their activities. Furthermore, if they must have restraints on their activities they would much prefer a nice voluntary code worked out to which they could adhere. That is what they are doing in Britain. They have a nice cushy, cosy voluntary code over there which does not really upset anything. So, the fact that the Government are bringing in legislation here at all is proof that we are not bowing to any commercial pressure.
Deputy O'Connell and Deputy Browne in particular must admit that we have been a long time waiting for this legislation. Members on both sides of the House have been a long time pressing for this legislation and now at last we have got legislation and it is at least some step forward. I want to say to Deputy O'Connell and other critics of this legislation that whatever approach I may have to the administration and implementation of this Bill I am giving enough powers in the Bill to any successor of mine to do anything he wants. The powers in the Bill are completely adequate to enable any Minister for Health to control totally, to the degree that he thinks necessary, this whole area of advertising and promotion. Deputy O'Connell suggested that he would like to have some undertaking, for instance, about an annual reduction of 25 per cent in the volume of expenditures. In fact that will be achieved. I do not have the figure at the moment for cinema advertising so we will leave it out of account for the present. But it is a step forward.
Would it be phased out over four years?
Cinema advertising is gone; it is finished. If it is not gone it will be gone within a matter of weeks at the outside.
The firms have bailed out themselves.
They know the Minister is on the war path and that is why.
I have indicated to the industry, and it will be in the regulations, that all outdoor advertising, signs and posters, must go by the end of 1979. That will account for 25 per cent of the expenditure. That is the first instalment of 25 per cent.
Let us see the figures.
That is a figure. The Deputy does not have to accept it if he does not want to but I am telling the Deputy that the figures available to me indicate that 25 per cent of the present budgets are spent on outdoor advertising. They will be gone off the scene completely by the end of 1979 and that is the first 25 per cent.
Outdoor hoardings only or all types of outdoor advertising?
It applies to all types of outdoor advertising, hoardings, posters and so on.
Will that also mean that the hoarding advertising at football pitches will also go?
Tout, everything, omnia. In fact we will also be insisting on very strict and stringent proposals at point of sale advertising. I just wanted to mention that fact as an indication to Deputy O'Connell that we are in earnest about this. He made quite a play of the situation about the drug regulations. At first sight it might appear to him that we have been dilatory in bringing in these regulations. I would not totally reject that criticism. But unfortunately this is a very complex and difficult situation and numerous bodies and organisations had to be consulted, agreements and so on procured and they will be in any day now. I can assure the Deputy that they will be in certainly before the end of this month. I will make it a target to have them promulgated before the end of this month. I also give the House and the Deputy an assurance that the regulations will be made immediately after the passing of this legislation.
We are in earnest about this Bill. It hurts me a bit to be told that this is window dressing. The Deputy can see that one major tobacco company have withdrawn from a particularly objectionable form of sponsorship of sport and have done so just because this legislation is before the House. That is a significant achievement. It is a fringe benefit of the introduction of this legislation.
I thought they might be so incensed that they might give protective notice to their workers. They are capable of anything.
The Deputy must agree that already there has been this spin-off. One tobacco company have withdrawn from a major and, from their point of view, important piece of sponsorship. I would ask Deputies Boland, O'Connell and Browne not to be too critical of what is proposed here. We are dealing with an area where we have to persuade the general public. I am not concerned with the feelings of the tobacco industry, the executives or those who control that industry. They are in business and I have my responsibilities and we both know where we stand. I am concerned with bringing the general public along with us in our whole health education programme. If the general public get the idea that we are trying to compel them——
But we are not.
I know we are not. I accept totally what Deputy O'Connell says. The freedom of the individual is not involved at all. We are not compelling anyone to smoke or to give up smoking. We are dealing with certain commercial activities, but it is not too easy to get that across to the general public. When one brings in legislation of a restrictive, prohibitive nature there is automatically some sort of inherent reaction among the general public.
The Minister got the "vibes" too.
Yes. I had to explain to my own friends that we are not interfering with human freedom.
To your 10,000 constituents?
I have far more than that. At the last count I had about 15,000 supporters.
What was the first count?
The important question is whether the Minister has 43 supporters.
I assure the House that the powers we are taking in this Bill as phrased are adequate to enable me or any of my successors to proceed as quickly or as slowly as is deemed appropriate. There is no question as to the adequacy of the powers. Side by side with that, there is no question of the earnestness with which we intend to pursue the implementation of this legislation. Already there are significant restrictions in operation and they will be followed quickly by others. If the legislation goes through the Dáil and Seanad this term, it would be my intention that these regulations would be made immediately, certainly before the end of the year. I make these points because Deputy O'Connell raised serious issues and used some harsh words. He suggested that this is window dressing, that it is a charade and that we are not sincere. I reject all these things. I assure the House that every word in this Bill is the product of my own and my advisers' thinking. We have gone very carefully into it and we will be accepting some amendments later on from Opposition Deputies. What we are proposing is not influenced by anybody outside the precincts of the public service or the Government.
Deputy Browne will appreciate that amendments Nos. 4, 5, 6 and 7 are being taken with amendment No. 2.
We are not without some sympathy for the Minister's dilemma because we know quite well that the unemployment situation is chronic and he has to concern himself with that question. Unfortunately the same is true in relation to the rate of progress. He is in a difficult situation in taking over-precipitate action. I know a case can be made in regard to particular points but they must be taken in the context of the subject we are discussing.
It is notable that the Minister appears not to have mentioned the one point which I think is the most important, that is, the loss of revenue. If I were Minister for Finance I would curb the Minister for Health if he were trying to deprive me of the enormous revenue which comes from the selling of tobacco. To do that too precipitately would obviously cause problems for any Government. I wonder whether that is the most important consideration.
It is now 20 years since 1957 when I first got the answer that the matter would be investigated, that the Minister would discuss it with the tobacco people and keep the matter under control. There were various platitudes of one kind or another, but certainly no action. The Official Report is littered with appeals by me and various other people over the years and the answers given by the different Ministers were the same as the present Minister has given us today: "We will proceed slowly and try to do this job in a responsible way."
This is where the conflict lies. How can the Minister claim to be a responsible Minister for Health and make the kind of speech he did, full of the most frightening statistics about the damage done to the economy, putting it at its lowest, from the point of view of hospital bed occupancy, days out of work, general practitioner time taken up by people suffering from various diseases associated with smoking, chronic heart disease, bronchitis, gastric ulcer, pregnancy problems, chronic permanent physical disability and a mortality figure of 2,000 per year, and fail to take the appropriate action? I believe the Minister would like to be a conscientious Minister for Health, and the problem is such a serious one that action must be taken at once. We must stop the prevarication of the last 20 years. The Minister's predecessors can be excused because they did not have the same experience and the same knowledge that the present Minister has. I knew from experience what the effects were and probably understood the position much better than earlier Ministers for Health did. Now experience has taught us because knowledge has increased and the argument against is irrefutable. There is no debate about it any more.
The Minister does not have the right to either prevaricate or delay any longer, a right his predecessors had. I did not bother making a case. I simply repeated the Minister's speech back to him. The statistics he gave were unanswerable, so unanswerable that it is patently obvious that something must be done. People are addicted to a desperately dangerous practice and, in a number of cases, an obviously lethal practice. Action must be taken by the Government and the Oireachtas. One thinks of the suffering, the pain and the distress caused to so many. One thinks of the disability suffered by these people. It is not enough for the Minister to say that we will be faced with problems of employment. This argument has been used before. It was used in the defence of opium smoking in the opium war. There are many ways in which one could provide employment which would inevitably call forth moral objections and objections based on social attitudes, but could there be any more intelligent case against continuing an industry than that which the Minister put to the House in relation to an industry which results in at least 2,000 deaths every year, which costs the State an enormous sum, which is choking hospital beds and taking up the time of general practitioners? Smoking is an extremely wasteful and offensive habit.
The Minister talks about precipitancy of action and the impossibility of taking effective action. In the same breath he told us cinema advertising would be cut almost at once. Poster advertising will be cut virtually immediately. The Minister has, in fact, acted precipitately in these two particular aspects of advertising. He has used his powers to see that his edict is carried out. Most of us have had representations from the poster people complaining about discrimination. Of course, there is discrimination. The cinema is a relatively unimportant advertising medium. It is nothing like so powerful in its appeal as poster advertising and newspaper advertising. We all know how important newspapers are to all of us, particularly those of us in public life. Even if there is a ban on someone there is always some window through to the electorate. Given a choice between cinema advertising, poster advertising and newspaper advertising we would all choose the columns of the newspapers because of the persuasive pens and the talented writers, be they engaged in supporting a particular attitude or opposing it.
The really important advertising is newspaper advertising. It is extremely clever, very sophisticated and most seductive. There was a time, indeed, when advertising was so obvious in its appeal to adolescents that various movements tried to control the advertisements. There were questions here in the House. Committees were set up to consult with the advertisers just as the Minister says now that he will talk with these people. I do not blame them. They are in business to make money. I do not agree with them of course. If they are to use the talents of script and caption writers to the maximum, then they must depend on the conscious and unconscious motivation these people use in trying to sell a product. Obviously, the most important thing is to hook the young people as early as possible and then they are on cigarettes for life. For those who understand the dangers it is extraordinary to see people continuing to smoke cigarettes in spite of the dreadful story the Minister has put forward here. It simply illustrates, as he knows and I know, the difficulty of getting rid of the habit. These people should be helped, people who probably do appreciate the true situation and know that it is a dangerous and lethal habit in many cases. They should be helped, not provoked as they are by these mass advertisements one sees in the press —they are less obvious at present, I suppose because the debate is going on. As I reminded the Minister during the Second Stage debate the flood of colourful advertisements that came when he made his first assertion that he would do something about it were extremely persuasive, giving the general impression that this was a harmless habit and that in fact most of the film stars, sports heroes, thoughtful intelligent people, really strong, healthy people all smoked and got away with it. That was the implication of the message. This was an overpowering, countervailing force against the Minister's attempts and the attempts of all his predecessors to drive home the reality regarding the dangers of continuing to smoke cigarettes.
It always surprises me that we waste money on this. I have always found Department of Health advertising against smoking painfully obscure. I end up not being sure whether it was an advertisement by the tobacco company or the Department—they were too clever. Obviously, they were a waste of money because the amount of money the tobacco companies could spend was far in excess of anything the Minister was ever likely to be able to lay hands on. It seems clear to us then that what the Minister should do is not bother seeking money from the Minister for Finance for a counter advertising programme but just tell the companies simply that they may not continue to advertise at all. That seems so logical that it is very difficult to accept that there is any case against it.
I would not agree that it is logical.
The suggestion that it might be counter-productive, of course, we completely accept. Again, I think we are rather illogical in accepting it. I think it is practical reality that one should stop smoking and just say: "No more smoking". We know what happened to that in school; obviously nobody took any notice. The strange thing is that one can tell people to stop smoking opium and marijuana or various other drugs and we do not think there is anything odd about that but we think it is impossible to do that in regard to cigarette smoking.
We are not asking that at all. It is true that in socialist countries one does not have advertising and people continue to smoke. So it is not a simple question, not a simple cause and effect matter. It is the business of becoming addicted and then finding it difficult to give up. At the same time it seems to be reasonable that this provocation to continue smoking —which is what a clever advertisement is—should be discontinued. I do not see how that could be in the slightest counter-productive. You might as well say that we do not have cigarette smoking advertisements on television now and this has had no counter-productive effect as far as the smoker is concerned. He just has not noticed the advertisements, that is all. It has done him no harm; it has saved the poor devil, who has just had a meal or is worried and anxious and wants to take a cigarette, the experience of seeing an advertisement telling him that it is all right to smoke. To that extent it may help him through the crisis of trying to give up smoking permanently. I do not see any weight in the argument.
Just as we were talking about the changes in the approach of Government Ministers to pushing down living standards in the Social Welfare Bill yesterday, similarly, in matters of this kind people who were selling dangerous products have had to change their approach. Obviously, pressure is put on them here and elsewhere. There is quite a good lobby in the medical profession advocating change, advocating restriction on advertising and on the facility with which people were able to smoke everywhere they wanted to. The response to that has been particularly clever. In fact, one wonders whether they would greatly mind if advertising were completely banned as we suggest. Which of the two, sponsorship or advertising is the more harmful? Sponsorship, of course, has been their reply to the pressure against advertising and the fear that it may be inevitable that some Minister would be able to exercise the same pressure as the present Minister has exercised in relation to cinemas and posters and that one day newspaper advertising will cease. Sponsorship is a particularly interesting development over the years and particularly—sinister is probably too weighty a word to use, but it is fascinating——
We are not dealing with sponsorship under this section, and the Chair would also say that the Deputy is making a full-scale Second Reading speech on very specific amendments. I ask the Deputy to come down to the amendments before us.
I am trying to justify the very radical appeal we are making to the Minister to ban completely rather than defer the banning for a period of years, and I must substantiate the case I am making. That is what I am attempting to do.
Sorry, Deputy, sponsorship would come in under section 2 (1) but not in detail. We are dealing with specific amendments at present. I understand there are later amendments on sponsorship.
I was dealing with section 2 and that is part of it.
Yes, but it is not in the amendment as far as I am aware.
We are banning sponsorship.
Deputy Browne on the amendment.
The import of the amendment is to ban sponsorship as well as advertising.
I have to deal with sponsorship then. Sponsorship is quite a different question, because it was a very well thought out assault on the opinion formers in our society. It is a particularly interesting education to anybody interested in mind moulding techniques if one examines the permutations and the implications of the development of sponsorship over the years. The people that the sponsors are anxious to influence are the important people in any society. At the same time they want to get them to lower their defences against a practice which they would otherwise oppose.
It is important to look at the various organisations who have been systematically undermined and infiltrated over the years. The control by the enormous combines of the tobacco multi-nationals is of great interest to anybody concerned with changing people's minds. An organisation like the GAA has all sorts of connotations in our society. The obvious national one is that it was associated with the emergent nation in the 1920s and afterwards the establishment of a national ethos and association with national heroes like Pearse. This was a very important organisation to try to get on one's side not only for that reason but for the very important reason that its activities are concentrated on young adolescents. The whole picture of this organisation is one of carefree, youthful enthusiasm and healthy bodies untrammelled by any disability, but full of vigour and energy with no question whatever of coronary heart disease or bronchitis and, above all, the very painful death from lung cancer as well as the other painful illnesses associated with cigarette smoking.
It was very important to get the tacit approval of this organisation for the continuation of the practice of cigarette smoking. I criticised the GAA over the years for accepting sponsorship. It was essentially a betrayal of their responsibility to young people in a moral sense. Presumably, the Minister is serious about saying that sponsorship will go so the GAA must find other ways, which they should have done in the past, of raising money rather than being a party to a concerted assault on the credulity of young people leaving them to believe that cigarette smoking was not a dangerous habit and was not in some cases a lethal habit. I believe that the GAA were wrong to allow themselves to get involved in sponsorship by tobacco companies. Apparently they have voluntarily withdrawn. They should actually be compelled to withdraw.
There is the extension of sponsorship to various other games. I am not sure about the Football Association. They have the link with the beer barons, and they are equally wrong to become party to the extension of the very lamentable drink habits we have in the country. Golf is a middle-class sport to a great extent. Professional people, lawyers, doctors, politicians, businessmen and so on take part in it. Most of those people are influential in our society. They are then offered considerable sums of money to sponsor very elaborate international contests and their silence is bought.
The Chair must again remind the Deputy that he is making a full Second Stage speech, which is most unusual on a Committee Stage. The Deputy has been speaking on this subject now for almost half an hour. There is no time limit, but at least we must try and make some progress on the amendment.
I know the Minister for many years. I know he is a very difficult man to persuade and I am doing my best to do so.
I know, but it should not take a Second Stage speech again to persuade him. We are dealing with specific amendments. I am sorry, Deputy, but we must try to make some progress with the amendments.
A half an hour is nothing on the Committee Stage of a Bill. For goodness sake, the Leas-Cheann Comhairle is being very intolerant.
I am being terribly tolerant. I must point out again that there is no time limit and I am not trying to put a limit on the Deputy, but we want to get specific amendments dealt with.
On a point of information if the Leas-Cheann Comhairle said that to me and I decided to continue, what would happen?
Nothing. The Chair must try to get business through. If a Deputy is making a Second Reading speech it is up to the Chair to decide that. That is the duty of the Chair, not of any other Deputy. The Chair now believes that Deputy Browne is making a Second Stage speech. That is not in order on Committee Stage. Deputy Browne on the amendment please.
I will continue to try to persuade the Minister that I have been very abstemious indeed in taking only half an hour to discuss advertising, which is a very wide ranging subject. I could have brought in many other aspects, the underlying psychology of advertising and the whole process of changing people's minds, in a much more wide ranging way if I had chosen to do so.
It is important to illustrate the importance of the influence of sponsorship in society. There is no doubt that this has been a systematic development over the years in which all the components of the structure of society have been bought over by this device of sponsorship. An enormous number of influential people such as doctors, teachers, lawyers and so on will not take up a positive position against cigarette smoking. Sponsorship has also been extended to various musical and artistic parts of society, and this influential group of people feel that it is unreasonable of us to ask that they be deprived of their sponsorship. It is debateable whether the whole idea of sponsorship is more important than advertising. Another interesting point is that Benson and Hedges, who are cigarette manufacturers, sponsor a political correspondents' competition of some kind or another.
I did not think of that.
Do they not sponsor horse racing too?
Is not that a very interesting way of buying silence from terribly important people?
We will have to bring in an amendment.
We are getting into asides now. They may be friendly, but they are hardly relevant.
This is very difficult for us because of the importance and the pervasive influence of the tobacco barons. They are involved in almost any sponsorship enterprise one can think of. They do not go down to Summerhill and try to start enterprises there for the underprivileged deprived youngsters.
They prefer Portmarnock to Summerhill.
Not any longer, it is too near Kinsealy now.
The tobacco companies are completely cynical about sponsorship. The odd thing is that the elite in our society do not appear to understand how totally their silence is being bought. They are being blackmailed, or at least pressurised, into allowing this kind of thing to go on.
I have a certain sympathy with the Minister who has had to sponsor this Bill. There is certainly no political gain in it because so many people are sympathetic to cigarette smoking and they cannot see why we are behaving in this cranky way in asking that cigarette advertising be banned. Could the Minister give any sort of specific timetable that we could depend on, as to how soon he is likely to phase out this? The Minister will forgive my cynicism, but I have had undertakings so many times and nothing has happened as a result of them. Certainly this Minister has taken up a very positive position, he has made no bones about being in doubt or anything like that and has introduced a Bill. That is all very creditable, but can the Minister give any serious timetable of a period of years in which both sponsorship and advertising will be completely banned?
I have said most of what I have to say already on this subject, but a couple of points came up from Deputy Browne and Deputy O'Connell.
If a stranger from a European country or from America came into the Gallery and listened to this debate he would undoubtedly be somewhat puzzled. He would see what the legislation before the House was endeavouring to achieve, and if he was an intelligent and rational being he would imagine that the opposition to this measure would be coming from some vested interests who do not want any restriction or control on advertising and who have for some reason an interest in seeing that the tobacco companies were allowed to proceed uninhibited. He would imagine, so far as the Deputies talking in this House were speaking against the legislation, that was their motivation and outlook. I am sure it is difficult to understand Deputies who are firmly committed to a positive health programme and policy, and who have campaigned for something in this area, being critical of the legislation and being, to some extent, the only opposition that the legislation has. That must be confusing people.
I should like to make a suggestion to Opposition Deputies, and I hope I am not patronising in this respect. I suggest that they should be saying to me: "Minister, we do not think your Bill goes far enough but at least it is a step forward. You should now get on with implementing it and in 12 months' time when we see what you have done we will be in a position to ask you questions." In my view that would be a sensible attitude for those who are so sincere and committed in their opposition to smoking. Deputy Browne asked for some sort of timetable, but I should like him to view the situation in this way: television and radio advertising are gone; cinema and outdoor advertising are going, and the next step will be in relation to all the remaining body of omnibus advertising, but that is being controlled and regulated.
Omnibus advertising has gone.
I was using the word in its classical meaning and not in the corrupt sense. I am not surprised that Deputy Boland goes for the corrupt interpretation of the word rather than for the pure interpretation.
Talking about the pot calling the kettle black——
The distinction has been made between omnibus and buses.
As television and radio advertising is gone our next step is in relation to cinema and outdoor advertising. I disagree with Deputy Browne in relation to outdoor advertising because in my view such advertising is very invasive, it is very compelling. The ordinary man in the street cannot get away from it. It pervades our environment. Deputy O'Connell made an important point in relation to this question of outdoor advertising, because we have to support the person who is trying to give up cigarettes or the person who has already given them up and is trying to stay off them. That is where outdoor advertising is very relevant. Outdoor advertising, because of its pervasive presence, is important for the person who is trying to give up smoking or, having given it up, is trying to stay off it. I award a very high priority to getting rid of outdoor advertising, and my view one that was confirmed by the approach of the tobacco companies. They spent a lot of money on outdoor advertising which in some ways is just as persuasive, if not more so—it is more seductive and certainly more invasive—than newspaper advertising.
Mention was made of the Minister for Finance and his interest in this matter. In the Government we have collective responsibility and we do not, as a rule, give any indication of what any individual Minister thinks about a particular issue. We try to give a Government view, but I must say in this context that the Minister for Finance in regard to this legislation from the beginning adopted a most enlightened attitude. He did not adopt a departmental stance, as he might have done. As Deputy Browne said, he could have been forgiven had he done so. The Minister indicated to me and my colleagues that while there were certainly finance implications in this legislation as far as he was concerned he was not prepared to let any financial consideration interfere with a health matter. As far as this legislation is concerned there is no opposition to it from the Minister for Finance or his Department. I give the Minister credit for that. From his point of view it is only common sense, because in the long run the Minister for Finance would gain more out of this campaign against smoking than anybody else. I have already indicated that smoking, apart from the human hardship, distress and suffering it causes, is also a serious impediment to our economic progress, our economic wellbeing and development. It also contributes enormously to the cost of our health service. Looking to the long term, the Minister for Finance is wise in agreeing to and supporting this legislation.
This legislation, with the phraseology used in the different sections, particularly section 2, gives me all the power and the authority I need to do what I wish in regard to the regulation, control and prohibition of advertising and sponsorship. Deputies can as the months go on criticise me for the manner in which I avail of those powers and the speed or otherwise with which I implement the measures, but the Bill ensures that I am able to control and regulate and, in certain instances, to eliminate certain forms of promotion of the sale of tobacco products. On the question of timing I should like to state that the Bill will be passed this month, hopefully, and the regulations will be made immediately thereafter. Cinema and outdoor advertising will go and the budget spent by the tobacco companies will be limited. The volume and content and the type of general advertising will be regulated and controlled, as will sponsorship. That is the programme of implementation which I propose to follow. That programme will be followed diligently, and it will be open to any Member to ask me within a few months what progress has been made and to what extent are the powers in the legislation being used to see that the situation is brought under firm control. They will be in a position to see that the pressure of advertising on the individual is lessened until it disappears altogether. I ask Deputies to say to me: "Here is your legislation; we are giving it to you, but if we were bringing it in ourselves we would introduce it in a much more draconian form. However, such as it is it is welcome so you can take it away and get on with the job of implementing the terms of it. We will look at the situation again in six or 12 months time to see how you got on".
An American visitor to this House listening to this debate might be inclined to wonder what this was all about, but what might not be apparent to the American visitor to Dáil Éireann is that there was no consultation with the Opposition prior to the introduction of the Bill. We were presented with a fait accompli; we have no say in it. No attempt whatsoever is being made to oppose the Minister on this. After years of badgering Ministers for Health on this issue we are presented with a Bill but we are not consulted beforehand; rather a parliamentary draftsman sits down and prepares a Bill. It is then our job to do what we can because the opportunity will not arise again. We can put down parliamentary questions by the hundred. The sum total of the answers elicited is that, in a very rapid, fiery session the Minister says: we are doing all we can. It is not right for the Minister to say we are trying to oppose him. We are endeavouring to say to him: “Yes, you have something there”. A unique opportunity is afforded us now. Does the Minister honestly think there will be another Bill presented to the House in a year, or, say, two years?
It will not be necessary.
There was a multiplicity of defects in the 1952 Social Welfare Act. I have endeavoured, in vain, over the years to have them rectified. One is constantly tabling parliamentary questions with the inevitable response: it is in the 1952 Act. This is a unique opportunity and we would be failing in our duty as legislators if we could not tease out a whole Bill. We cannot merely say to the Minister: "That is a good Bill". That would be wrong. If the Minister's sensitivities are disturbed by our saying: "it is window-dressing", so be it. Our job is to endeavour to get as much as possible from the Minister in the time at our disposal. That is the whole purpose of this legislative chamber. What we are saying is that giving the Minister carte blanche power means that this Bill could be passed as a window-dressing exercise. But then, when it comes to the regulations what happens?
I might mention to the Minister that there is something called proposition five, the result of which should be known today in California, the object of which is to prohibit smoking in all public places. Is the Minister aware that tobacco companies in California alone spent one million dollars in combating that? They are lobbying there on a fantastic scale in that respect.
Surely they spent more than that.
This was on a two-week campaign only—I think it was one or two million dollars. Anyway they spent a lot of money; I am not too sure of the exact amount. This proposition emanated from the people, not from the legislators; they are the people who will bring in this referendum.
So we are better than they are in California.
No, we are not really.
We legislators I mean.
I want to get that point about the US visitor across because he would ask why do we even have to spend this time trying to persuade the Minister; surely he knows it is wrong; surely in his heart and soul he knows what is in this Bill and why can he not produce the necessary amendment? Of course, we can criticise ad infinitum but we do not achieve anything.
Is the Minister aware that there is at present another kind of campaign being carried on by tobacco companies, that is, to engage people in large stores and supermarkets in the handing out of free samples to shoppers, saying: you might like to try these cigarettes. This is being done on a massive scale in Dublin at present. Obviously the Minister did not know it. Is that advertising; is it promoting; is it merely saying to people: "You can have that now"? We want to know because those tobacco companies, with all the funds at their disposal, will think up other measures to outwit us on this Bill. We must examine what we can do to stop these new, subtle promotional methods. We are up against these giants.
Radio and television advertising has gone; cinema advertising is going now; outdoor advertising is going. Could the Minister tell us what other form of advertising have the research section of his Department established must go? I presume it would be newspaper and magazine advertising only.
That is the major area for control, yes.
What of the minor area?
I see; those two.
There is also point of sale. The point the Deputy mentioned there about——
Free samples, yes, that is point of sale.
That would be point of sale promotion, yes.
This is being done on a very elaborate scale at present. Perhaps the Minister would let us know—with the power vested in him under this Bill—when he anticipates total advertising will cease. He may say that it will take longer than had been anticipated; perhaps the advertising industry itself must seek some other form of income or revenue. I realise the Minister's problems and that one cannot suddenly throw people on to the breadline. If we could have an assurance from the Minister that he will see to it that this will be done within a specified time then I would be more than happy.
I think the Minister said that he thought he could give us, on Committee Stage, the amount of money spent by the tobacco companies on advertising in the most recent year for which figures are available. What is the figure at present?
I will give the Deputy that. Off-hand I know that, on outdoor advertising only, it is about £1¼ million. But, before we conclude I will give the Deputy full information.
But the Minister told us already that outdoor was 25 per cent; that makes £6 million altogether; does it not?
I will have to check on whether it is 25 per cent of advertising or of the total budget.
This is particularly interesting information. It leaves us then simply with the employment counter-productive element, doing it slowly, as the main argument against doing what we want to do. Would that be correct? Are we then just simply to look at this problem as one which would worry all of us—the employment content? What would that amount to? How many people would be out of work? Is there any means by which they could be deployed in any other way? Does that constitute the major difficulty now remaining? The other question—the speed with which it is done—is dismissed by the fact that the Minister has not taken any such attitude in relation to outdoor advertising which he says is particularly influential, that he has more or less stopped this; he says he is going to stop it immediately. He says he is not concerned with the employment content of that: is there one? He does not feel it will be counter-productive; will it be? and he is not worried about the speed with which he does it. Why do these factors operate in relation to newspaper advertising and sponsorship and not operate in relation to outdoor, poster advertising and in cinemas? What is so special about one, rendering it different from the other? Perhaps the Minister could tell us that.
On the question of revenue, this is particularly interesting information because, if it is true, it means that the Minister is being rather arbitrary in his refusal to act. He appeared irresponsible as Minister for Health in declining to act, if the Minister for Finance is giving him this authority. His attitude seems to be not to bother about the money, that the finance will be found elsewhere. All that is delaying the Minister now apparently is a few hundred jobs, and he has the idea that this is counter-productive—I do not know how the validity of that could be established—and he wants to do it slowly rather than quickly.
I deliberately ruled out the word "slowly". I said "wisely".
Let that be applied then to outdoor advertising. Do that wisely. I am not suggesting——
What is the Deputy suggesting?
If it is applicable to newspaper advertising why is it not applicable to cinemas and outdoor advertising? I suggest that it be banned in all of them, but the Minister is inconsistent in saying that he has this feeling that it would be a nice way to do it not too quickly. He has this curious idea about it being counter-productive. I do not know what that means. People see an advertisement in a paper on one day and they never see it again. Nobody has complained about the absence of television advertising and nobody will complain about the absence of outdoor or cinema advertising. The Minister cannot expect us to accept as a serious argument that there is any likelihood of a counter-productive reaction to the sudden stopping of newspaper advertising. "Wisely" obviously would apply in relation to the other two media as well. Therefore that does not stand up. We have the assurance that money is no object and finance will be found otherwise, therefore, the Minister for Finance is not to blame. So we are going to have these powerful influences of sponsorship and advertising which are effectively the same.
A record of happenings such as sickness and deaths has been created as a result of this concerted campaign to sell cigarettes. The Minister is now in the position where apparently, by simply substituting one word for another, he can get rid of this pernicious influence which is promoting the horrific, horrendous recitation of ills which he says cigarette smoking causes. The Minister for Health is making this personal decision as Minister for Health. It is contradictory, irrational and completely illogical that a Minister would sit there and do this. Either he is being completely irresponsible as a health Minister or he is not giving us the full facts. He is protecting somebody.
Whichever the Deputy likes. That is his own interpretation.
Yes, but it is a very serious situation. The Minister is not disclosing the full facts or else he is an extraordinary Minister for Health. He has told us that he knows that this advertising process, both in sponsorship and otherwise, is extremely powerful and that outdoor advertising is extremely provocative or influential. Therefore, he obviously must accept that any kind of advertising is influential. Newspaper advertising, in so far as it is there every day in the home, in my view is much more influential than outdoor poster advertising, otherwise tobacco companies would not spend the kind of money which I think the Minister is going to tell us about on newspaper advertising.
The Minister is going to permit this to go on even though he has produced no case. The case he could have produced—I would not accept it but it could make sense to many people—is that we cannot afford to drop up to £60 million; we cannot afford to drop that kind of revenue in one year, therefore we must phase it out over a period of two, three or four years. We cannot tolerate inroads on that kind of an income overnight. In his responsibility as a Minister he has persuaded the Minister for Finance to allow him to do this over a period of years. The Minister has very carefully not replied to the question that we asked him: what is the time scale projection for the phasing out of advertising and sponsorship? He gave a very brisk imitation of somebody who is going to do something about the problem by saying, "You pass the Bill and regulations will be made immediately". Then he linked that simply to posters and cinemas. He became very vague about all other forms of advertising, including sponsorship and newspaper advertising.
This is the nub of our difficulty with the Minister. He is being less than frank in this and he is leaving the impression now that he is concerned about the employment of a few hundred people. He might be good enough to tell us now how many people are employed in the tobacco industry. I do not know, but I am sure it is no more than a few hundred or perhaps a few thousand. Each year two thousand people are dying and thousands are finding their way into hospitals and into general practitioners' consulting rooms and are being disabled. Therefore, it is very difficult for anybody to put limited employment in the scales of priorities. I must dismiss the "counter-productive" and "wisely" arguments because they do not stand up, therefore we are left with employment, the one big argument which the Minister has removed. So it is a personal whim of this Minister who purports to be particularly conscientious in his wish to bring positive health attitudes and to reduce illness, disability and avoidable deaths. Through his various PROs and people who promote his image as that of a really aggressively radical Minister he has given us the idea that this is the kind of action he would take if given the power.
We want to give him the power and he will not take it. The Minister for Finance apparently has given him authority by implying "Do not bother about me. The money is there, take it". We are giving him the opportunity of banning the advertising and sponsorship at once and the Minister is the only really reactionary Member of the House.
Irresponsible and reactionary.
Irresponsible as Minister for Health and reactionary in his political attitude. It now appears that of the two Ministers, Deputy Colley is the enlightened one. It is a most interesting snippet to hear that the Minister for Finance has an enlightened and forward-looking attitude about this serious problem, but he cannot push the Minister for Health into taking action, even though he has given him permission.
The Deputy is rambling a bit.
I would ask the Minister to tell us about the amount of money which is spent by advertisers each year, or for the most recent year. Deputy Dr. O'Connell and I know that this Bill took over a year to prepare and a poor enough thing it is.
I am beginning to think that the Deputy does not want legislation at all.
All the Minister has to say is, "You can have this amendment", and I will sit down and not open my mouth again. Will the Minister give us some kind of a time scale? Has the Minister got one? I suspect he has not.
I will leave the Deputy to wallow in his suspicions.
The end product is that my assertions must stick as far as the Minister is concerned. He has the authority and the power and refuses to act. For that reason he must be considered a particularly irresponsible Minister for Health.
I move amendment No. 8:
In page 3, subsection (2) (e), line 13, to delete "may" and substitute "shall".
There is another amendment that could be taken with this one.
It is to put in the word "shall" instead of "may" in subsection (2) (e).
Amendment No. 8 is on its own, as far as the Chair is concerned.
The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that the regulations contain a notice concerning the injurious properties of a tobacco product. Subsection (2) sets out the types of regulations that can be made and paragraph (e) of that subsection suggests there could be a requirement that the advertisements carry a notice of the injurious properties of a tobacco product. The "may" contained in the preamble to subsection (2) and the "may" in subsection (2) (e) are a double discretion. In view of the discretionary power in the first sentence of subsection (2), the word "shall" should be used if paragraph (e) is to have real meaning.
I accept the amendment. I agree that the form in which the warning is to be stipulated should be specified in the regulation. It is my intention that the warning be firmed up considerably.
Amendments Nos. 8a, 9, 9a, and 10 are related.
I move amendment No. 8a:
In page 3, subsection (2) (e), lines 14 to 16, to delete "indicating that the tobacco product can be injurious to the health of a person using it," and substitute "indicating the risk to the health of persons associated with the use of the product,".
This amendment relates to the same point. Deputies will see that the wording of subsection (2) (e) is: "indicating that the tobacco product can be injurious to the health of a person using it". That is nothing more than a reiteration of the situation as it is at present. The present warning indicates that the smoking of cigarettes may be injurious to health. We want to be more positive, and we are changing the wording to "indicating the risk to the health of persons associated with the use of the product". That will enable us to specify precisely what smoking does as distinct from what it may do. Amendment No. 9a is cognate and substitutes the same words in subsection (2) (f). Amendments Nos. 8a and 9a would have the same effect.
Amendments Nos. 9 and 10 are being taken with amendments Nos. 8a and 9a. If amendment No. 8a is agreed, No. 9 cannot be moved later, but we are taking them at this stage. Amendment No. 9 is in the names of Deputies O'Connell and Browne and so is amendment No. 10.
Will the Minister clarify the phrase "persons associated with the use of the product"?
What we are changing is that the tobacco product can be injurious to the health of the person using it to "indicating the risk to the health of persons associated with the use of the product".
I understand the first part of the change, but the second part changes from "to the health of a person using it" to "the health of persons associated with the use of the product".
That is just the draftsman refining it.
It could be argued that that will extend to persons selling tobacco or somebody working for a tobacco firm. I am surprised at the choice of words. I thought there was some other reason for the change.
It is not necessarily confined to cigarettes. This is the form of words the draftsman has suggested to give the widest possible scope to the import of the warning which will be on the packet and in the advertisements.
This is a rather depressing amendment because it seems to me to give some indication of the type of regulations we are likely to get from the Minister. It continues to be equivocal. It is a mild advance on what is there but the obvious circumlocution within the phrase makes it quite clear that the Minister is afraid to go further. Why can we not take the decision to state that cigarette smoking is a danger?
Will the Deputy give me credit for something? The simple explanation is that this will apply to all tobacco products. I can state firmly without fear of being challenged that medically it has been established that cigarette smoking is a danger to health, but in the case of other tobacco products to which we may also be applying these regulations it has not yet been firmly established that they are a danger to health. The Bill gives us that flexibility. It is my intention that the warning on the cigarette packet will be quite specific.
Can the Minister give us any idea of what he has in mind as a warning?
I am examining a number of different alternatives and I am consulting with the medical profession. My own idea is that it will be something along the lines that "Cigarette smoking damages your health and can bring about a disease that will be fatal".
Because the Minister is so anxious to keep the record of the House correct regarding the correct form of usage of words, may I point out that there is no such thing as different types of alternatives?
Amendment No. 9 may not be moved. Before we come to that, the Minister has given an indication to the Chair that he proposes to move across the Floor of the House an amendment which we will call A9.
In page 3, subsection (2) (f), line 20, to delete "may" and substitute "shall".
It is the same as my amendment No. 8.
It is an amendment the Minister has asked permission to move across the Floor of the House—it is not listed officially. It is a technical amendment, the Chair understands, and the Chair has given permission to the Minister to move it.
The Minister is accepting the use of the word "shall" and is suggesting that a similar change be made in paragraph (f).
I move amendment No. 9a:
In page 3, subsection (2) (f), to delete lines 21 and 22 and substitute "indicating the risk to the health of persons associated with the use of the product,".
I move amendment No. 11:
In page 3, subsection (2) (g), line 26, to delete "considers necessary" and substitute "may reasonably require".
I referred to his matter on Second Stage. The Minister outlined the reason why he wanted to get this type of information and I suggested that this paragraph gave him wider powers to examine the affairs of companies than might reasonably be warranted for a Minister for Health in pursuance of the objectives of this legislation. I pointed out that in the Restrictive Practices Act, 1972, section 15, there is power for the examiner to enter premises to seek information in his investigation of possible restrictive practices. The wording used on that occasion was that the officer should be given such information as he may reasonably require. I thought it would be fairer and better in this legislation if the provision was that the information sought would be that which the Minister might reasonably require in order to ensure that the intent of this legislation would be implemented. I said on Second Stage that, in regard to many aspects of this legislation, the Minister will have to be careful to ensure that he will not give an opportunity to any bodies affected by the legislation to have recourse to the courts in order to have their points of view vindicated. Therefore I felt it would be better if this type of wording were used rather than the phrase in the Bill as published.
I suggest that if we bring in words like "reasonably" we will open up a whole area or possibility of dispute. The commercial interests could take issue on whether what I might be looking for was reasonable and could impede the whole process.