Scientist attacks 'failure' to cut teenage smoking: Colin Brown and Liz Hunt report on moves in the campaign to ban tobacco advertising

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The Independent Online
THE GOVERNMENT'S attempts to cut teenage smoking were condemned as a 'complete failure' yesterday by Sir Richard Doll, a world-renowned epidemiologist, who established the link between cigarettes and cancer.

Supporting a backbench Bill to ban advertising, Sir Richard said there was strong evidence that the Government's opposition to a ban was a factor. 'Tobacco consumption will fall if tobacco advertising is banned in the United Kingdom,' he said.

His criticism will be an embarrassment for the Department of Health, a day after Britain played a leading role in blocking progress in Brussels on a European directive supporting a ban.

Virginia Bottomley, Secretary of State for Health, committed the Government to reducing cigarette smoking in the White Paper, The Health of the Nation, but is determined to resist pressure for a statutory ban on advertising.

She is keen to promote the voluntary restrictions adopted by the industry. Her department supported the Budget duty increase of 11p on a packet of 20 cigarettes, and is privately pressing the National Heritage department to crack down on sports sponsorship by tobacco companies on television, which breaks the spirit of the voluntary agreement.

The Government's voluntary approach will be tested by the Bill to be introduced by Kevin Barron, a Labour backbench MP, who came third in the ballot of MPs for the right to introduce private members' legislation. He will be guaranteed a full day of debate in the new year but, without Government support, it is unlikely his Bill to impose a statutory ban on tobacco advertising would reach the Statute Book.

Alan Beith, a leading Liberal Democrat, who came second in the ballot, announced he would be introducing a Bill requiring local authorities to conduct an energy audit of the housing in its area, both public and private, with an energy conservation plan.