NIGEL Evans has called on the Government to abandon plans to prohibit tobacco and cigarette advertising, despite the fact his father died from smoking aged only 59.

The lone East Lancashire Tory MP revealed the tragic history during a debate in the House of Commons.

Declaring an interest as the owner of a retail tobacconist and newsagent in Swansea, Mr Evans said that his grandfather started the business in the 1920s and his father Albert took it over.

The Ribble Valley MP's father died in 1979 of bowel cancer caused, or made worse, by smoking, according to the doctors.

Mr Evans told the debate on the tobacco advertising and promotion Bill: "My father died of cancer at the age of 59. He was a 40-60 a day man and as a child I remember him smoking good old Woodbines, Capstan, Players and Senior Service.

"I do not think he could have smoked stronger cigarettes. Only when he was dying did he switch brands to Silk Cut and, eventually, gave up smoking altogether. Sadly however, it was all too late.

"I therefore come to this argument as someone who now owns a business and retails a legal product. Even so, I would like to see an enormous reduction in the consumption of tobacco, but, even if the Government ban tobacco, we would not attain zero consumption in this country."

He said he believed the ban, which was overwhelmingly supported by MPs was "mere political correctness." He said that he believed the warning displayed on tobacco products and advertisements for them was far more persuasive than the advertisements themselves.

He said rather than ban advertising the Government should concentrate on tackling tobacco smuggling and improving education to dissuade youngsters from taking up the habit.

Without it, more and more tobacco would be smuggled in without health warnings and he suspected the ban was the chosen option of the Government because it was a cheap gesture rather than investing in proper education.

Mr Evans, who enjoys the occasional cigar, said his mother, Betty, his two brothers and one of his sisters had all given up smoking.

Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle called on the Government to rethink its exemption on the advertising ban for Formula One motor racing.

He said it was enormously influential in persuading the young to smoke and that young children had toy grand prix racing cars covered in tobacco advertisements.

The proposal will now go to another committee of MPs to be studied in more detail.