30 June 2005

S2M-2985 Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill

Scottish Parliament

Thursday 30 June 2005

[THE DEPUTY PRESIDING OFFICER opened the meeting at 09:15]

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Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Murray Tosh): The next item of business is a debate on motion S2M-2985, in the name of Andy Kerr, that the Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill be passed.


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Stewart Stevenson (Banff and Buchan) (SNP): This is not the end and it is not the beginning of the end, but it might just be the end of the beginning in eliminating the evil trade of the tobacco barons.

People who are called Stewart obviously have a particular view on the subject of tobacco. My colleague Stewart Maxwell is, in comparison with me, a moderate on the issue. I commend him for bringing the issue into play through his previous member's bill and I congratulate the Executive on responding to it and bringing forward wider measures. All are to be praised to the skies for that.

As an extremist on the subject, I have of course studied it in some detail. The cigarette came to these islands during the Crimean war, when our soldiers saw the French and the Turks smoking this new device. War has proved to be a remarkably effective platform for the evil people in the tobacco companies to broaden the franchise for this pernicious addiction. During the second world war, the proud boast of the tobacco companies was that they provided two packs of cigarettes for every soldier, as a treat for our brave fighting men. That laid the foundations of the addiction that afflicts our society.

A wide range of health conditions are derived from the use of tobacco in a variety of delivery mechanisms and many famous people have died as a result of their addiction. Jackie Kennedy lost a child two days after that child was born, entirely because she had smoked during her pregnancy. She died of lung cancer, but she is far from alone. I have with me 13 pages of names of well known people: Gracie Allen, Louis Armstrong, Desi Arnaz, Lucille Ball, Tallulah Bankhead, Leonard Bernstein, Neville Brand, Humphrey Bogart, Paul Brinegar, Yul Brynner, Rory Calhoun, John Candy, Jack Cassidy, Rosemary Clooney, Nat King Cole—have members noticed that many of those people might have been smoking in public for entertainment purposes? I have a dozen more pages of names.

Of course, we are not here to protect the great and the good; we are here to protect the ordinary people of Scotland. By passing the bill we will take a great step forward and we will set an example for others, as our friends across the Irish sea did. Yesterday, Shaun Woodward, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Northern Ireland Office with responsibility for health, made an announcement that relates to our debate. People in Northern Ireland have responded in huge numbers—some 70,000—to a consultation on smoking. Of that huge number of respondents, 91 per cent said that Northern Ireland should follow the example that Ireland has set and which Scotland is following. They have said that because they could see what was happening across the border.

I will paraphrase Tom Nairn. Scotland's people will not be free of the health scourge that we have been debating until the last tobacco share certificate has been wrapped around the last ounce of tobacco and smoked by the last tobacco addict—given his current form, perhaps that will be Brian Monteith.


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