|Non Smokers' Update|
NSMA MEMBERS DEMONSTRATE AT SYDNEY RAILWAY STATION
On World No Tobacco Day, 31 May 2001, our long suffering members attacked the NSW State Rail Authority (SRA) for its continued refusal to put no smoking signs on platforms and start enforcing the laws which have been on the books for years but are just ignored. This has been the cause of many confrontations with smokers right throughout the greater metropolitan railway network. The photo shows President of NSMA, Brian McBride, leading a protest march along the platforms at Sydney's Central Railway Station. This is a typical above ground station with extensive covered areas that are non-smoking zones but do not have any signs. The Railway Offences Regulation states that a person must not smoke on any train, or any enclosed or otherwise covered area on SRA property. The penalty is a $100 fine. Our members handed out leaflets printed with $100 fine notices for anyone found smoking. This message was forcefully delivered from loud hailers to many surprised commuters.
"We are protesting that the station manager does not enforce the no smoking laws because he knows the Minister does not want any confrontation with his own smoking staff. Any day of the week you can see the staff smoking under covered areas where it is prohibited. What hope is there of stopping passengers from smoking when the staff are openly smoking?"
ATTACK ON PLATFORM SMOKERS
We had made it clear in our media releases that we planned to physically remove any smokers found on the platform areas as we inspected them. This caused the Station Manager to go into panic mode and he repeatedly played the recorded message over the public address system. "Passengers are reminded that smoking is not permitted on platforms at this station". As we moved off to tour the platforms they played the message constantly in the vain hope that we would not find any smokers. We would have found a lot more without that message which is rarely heard on Central railway although they do run it regularly on the underground stations. We noticed smokers up ahead rapidly putting out their cigarettes as we approached. However there was one determined smoker who stood his ground and provided what the media wanted, some confrontation. He said to them defiantly, "I pay my bloody taxes and I'm entitled to smoke and even though I have emphysema, you can't stop me". Our members surrounded him and said this is not about your health; it is ours we are trying to protect. As for your taxes, they won't even cover your Medicare costs! The media crowded around him with microphones to catch his every defiant word.
Call to Action
His smoking continued while the three security guards who had followed us every inch of the way just stood by and watched him smoking. Suddenly the loud hailer was turned in their direction with a question "Don't they pay you guys to stop smoking on these platforms, isn't that part of your job?" Looking startled, they galvanised into action and headed through the crowd to get to the smoker. He saw them coming and to his great good fortune a train pulled in right at that moment so he threw his cigarette down and jumped on board and was gone in a flash. The security staff made no attempt to chase him. They stayed behind with the real problem, which of course, was us.
No adequate signage
We continued our tour of six platforms and pounded out the message that it is disgraceful that after so many years of complaints we still can't get them to put up adequate signage to inform the public. The Station Manager blames other departments saying they can't agree on the design or placement of signs that will not spoil the ambience and environment. Of course smoking does not affect anything like that! We all know that as soon as you challenge a smoker he or she immediately tries to justify their smoking by saying "but where are the signs? Show me the signs!"
No Staff Authority
One of the really frustrating problems is that some staff tell us they often see the laws broken but are powerless to enforce them because the Revenue Protection Officers (RPAs) are the only staff empowered to issue the $100 fines. Of course these RPAs have a primary job to catch fare evaders and spend their time travelling to different locations. They are like gypsies and you can never find one when you want one. The ones we spoke to regarded smoking as very much a secondary duty. In any case they said their instructions were always to "warn" and never prosecute on the first offence. What a joke! How do you identify repeat offenders if you don't take details and look serious about enforcing the law? Regular smokers just keep accepting their warnings and they know full well they will never be fined.
The Minister is guilty of gross hypocrisy by replying to our written complaints with straight out window dressing. He points out that the laws are in place and he says all staff have been instructed to enforce them, but he knows they do not. It is the most blatant game of passive resistance ever played by a government Minister. He hopes that we will just get tired and go away, but we won't. This is the first real challenge in enforcing outdoor smoking bans. If it can't be achieved on railway stations we might as well all give up, put the lights out and close the doors.
Siege Of Station Master's Office
In order to get right down to the operational level of the problem we completed our loud-hailing tour of the platforms by assembling outside the office of Station Manager, Mr John Tsiros. We demanded that he come out and address this typical group of fare paying passengers about why he was not enforcing smoking bans. We used the loud hailer to tell the curious crowds that the Minister keeps telling us that staff like Mr Tsiros do their jobs properly but we have just proved that they don't do anything about enforcing smoking laws. Rather than deal with our allegations Mr Tsiros bolted his office doors and called for the police to remove us. He already had three burly Chubb security officers standing outside his door but these were apparently considered useless to help him. We lined up outside the office and announced to the world that we would not leave until he did speak to us. However, Mr Tsiros would not come out of his bunker. Finally two police officers arrived and tried to get us to come through the ticket barriers into their public domain. However we foiled them by refusing to leave the area inside the barriers and still on SRA territory. Mr Tsiros bravely came out at this point and went into a huddle with the police and the Chubb security officers.
Too much Discretion by Police
The police then came through to our side of the ticket barrier and officiously demanded to see our tickets. We all produced tickets. Then our members told the police how useless they, the transit police, and the Chubb security staff are on the subject of no smoking laws. They all try to ignore them but we are here to demand real enforcement. They admitted they don't always fine smokers because they have discretion not to enforce some breaches and they said there are more important matters to deal with. We insisted smokers should be fined every single time just like they fine a speeding motorist every single time. The police even challenged that argument and said they still use their discretion such as if you were speeding while driving your pregnant wife to hospital. (OK we will make allowances for pregnant smokers on platforms- but what about the others?)
We Demand To Hear From Station Manager
We made it clear we would continue our peaceful protest until Mr Tsiros came out and gave us some answers. The police decided to take no action against us and they just stood by. Mr Tsiros then made another appearance to say that he would talk to one of us in his office. He said he could not come out to address us, as he was not authorised to make statements to the media. Since there were media present he was not able to talk to us outside his office. We then asked him to talk to each person one at a time since they were all entitled to answers. He refused to do this so Brian McBride and Jonathan Bevan were finally elected to end the stand-off by going into his office to put our complaints to him.
BS From The Station Master
When confronted with our basic complaint that he was not doing his job, Mr John Tsiros had the effrontery to say it was a "very difficult challenge for him" to enforce the no smoking laws because he did not control all the staff involved. He said he had no control over the crucial Revenue Protection Officers (RPAs). Brian and Jonathan did not let him get away with this rubbish and gave him facts and figures of previous complaints logged in the complaints book in his very office. He has had plenty of time to get the necessary control and what had he done about fixing those problems? What had he done about responding to the complaints under the SRA's guarantee of service, which they used to justify the latest fare increases? Also, we quoted the Minister's replies saying it is all under control and there really was "no problem". This proves the Minister did not support John Tsiros saying it was a "very difficult problem" and they were all struggling with it.
Put It In Writing
Finally fed up with evasive replies Brian and John sought an agreement that we would detail our complaints in writing directly to him and then he would reply in writing to state his position. He agreed to do this. There was much emphasis that this was now our agreement to get his written reply confirming all the difficulties he was struggling with. Subsequently he was given our letter of complaint on 6 June 2001. It is now 31 July and there has been no reply from him. So much for John Tsiros' promises!
WE MUST SACK THIS STATION MANAGER.
Our next demonstration will start from where the last one finished off. We will surround John Tsiros's office and demand that he resign for his incompetence or for lying to us that he would reply to our list of complaints. We just have to get down to this nasty personal level of getting staff sacked because we have used up every other form of approach. We have tried letters to Ministers (many over 24 years of writing), personal representations to our local MPs, demonstrations outside Parliament, demonstrations on railway stations, putting up our own signs and getting arrested. We are running out of options. The City Rail Administration is just determined to get away with not acting decisively against smokers as long as they possibly can. If we don't get a breakthrough on this we can go one step further next time. We will try lying on the tracks to stop peak hour trains and then perhaps Minister Carl Scully and his brain-dead administration will start to take us more seriously.
GOOD MEDIA COVERAGE
We succeeded in getting wide radio and some printed media coverage of our major point that existing bans were not being enforced and it is time things got serious. Media monitors showed at least 32 news or interview items reporting our intentions to physically remove smokers found in banned areas on platforms if the authorities refused to act. We received good accurate reporting on ABC radio where Brian McBride did several interviews on different programs over several days. Ninety percent of the radio coverage and talkback comments supported our actions. Unfortunately we did not get any TV coverage although Channel Seven had a camera at the event.
Commentators Should Declare Pecuniary Interests
There was a degree of negative reporting, notably from Terry Willessee on 2GB in Sydney. He accused us of going over the top and depriving people of the right to choose. In short, all the drivel we usually hear from demi- gods like John Laws and Allan Jones. Jones referred to us as "gestapo" and Miranda Divine called us "nicotine nazis". This reminds us that the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) have not actioned our complaint that there should be a register of pecuniary interests to prevent these people commenting on the tobacco issue unless they could show they did not have a couple of million dollars invested to tobacco shares or related interests. After the "cash for comments" fiasco they are now forced to reveal their sponsors. But what is the difference in motivation between having an active declared sponsor or having an undeclared passive $2 million dollar investment in the company's product? With ABA it is a bit like beating your head against a brick wall, but we will try to get back on to it again soon
Action Point 1. Write to the Hon Carl Scully, Minister for Transport, Parliament House, Macquarie St. Sydney 2000, and demand that all staff be empowered to enforce no smoking laws on all railway stations.
FIRST NATIONAL TOBACCO CONTROL
This conference was held in the Adelaide Hilton Hotel for three days from Tuesday 12 June to Thursday 14 June 2001. It was attended by over 180 delegates from most of the anti smoking organisations in Australia. President Brian McBride attended for NSMA and took the opportunity to meet up with many contacts that are normally just voices on the phone or contacts on the email network.
Minister Opens Conference.
The Hon. Dean Brown, Minister for Human Services, welcomed all the interstate visitors and indicated how pleased he was with the smooth introduction of smoking bans in restaurants that took effect in South Australia on 1 January 1999. He said that after two years there have been no significant problems. Patronage has not declined and everyone is very happy with the cleaner, healthier conditions for dining out. He indicated that South Australia would bring in further controls on smoking in hotels and clubs next year. He endorsed the purpose of the conference, which was to establish a vision for the future of tobacco control in Australia.
The first speaker was Dr David Hill from the Anti Cancer Council of Victoria (ACCV) who set the scene by reviewing developments starting with the first shots at the tobacco industry way back in 1938. He struck a chord on vested interests that still resonates to the present day as he described the media's strange reluctance to give any credibility to health warnings on smoking while they continued to make a fortune from tobacco advertising. The classic Doll report was published in 1958 and things started to stir in Australia with the 1960's reports from the National Health and Medical research Council (NHMRC).
Cigarette Ads Every Twelve Minutes On TV
In 1964 the monumental work by the US Surgeon General was released. It was conservative and cautious in many respects but even so it was totally damming of the industry and urged strong controls. In 1967 the ACCV did a study of cigarette advertising in Victoria where the most "in your Face" type of ads were saturating our TV screens with an ad every 12 minutes. Their fight against this advertising started with counter-commercials featuring Alf Garnett and other well known names of that era. These old anti smoking messages were shown at the conference and it brought a nostalgic and frustrating feeling to us old campaigners. To think we are still trying to get that same message across. Its like that old truism - you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink! We still give our young people the freedom to be stupid and many of them do it with relish!
Non Smokers' Movement Given Some Credit
NSMA was not invited to speak at the conference but we were very pleased to be acknowledged at the last plenary session on Thursday 14 June. The Federal Health Minister, Dr Michael Wooldridge, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) representative, Mr Douglass Bettcher, made a joint presentation of an award to Mr Stephen Woodward, former CEO of ASH Australia. Dr Wooldridge spoke with conviction about the damage the industry has done over the years. He referred to a real change in the political climate in recent times. He said that he would now receive majority support in cabinet for tougher action against tobacco but even five years ago that was not possible. He spoke of meeting Stephen many years ago and commended his dedication in keeping pressure on both sides of politics to do more about the tobacco problem. The award was the "WHO commemorative Medal for contribution to tobacco control". The Medal was presented to Stephen by Mr. Bettcher, with thanks on behalf of the World Health Organisation for his outstanding advocacy and contribution to reducing the ravages of the tobacco industry in Australia.
Good Work By The Amateurs!
In his acceptance speech, Stephen reminded the audience that some of the really great work in tobacco control in Australia had been done by the amateurs rather than by the health professionals. He thanked Brian McBride, Arthur Chesterfield-Evans, Marge White, the late Sue Meeuwissen and others for their early pioneering work against the inroads of the tobacco industry. He went on to talk about the great support he received from the Heart Foundations and Cancer Councils and the many individuals who had helped him, firstly in Melbourne and then in Sydney. He particularly mentioned the great work by barrister Neil Francey on the landmark AFCO passive smoking case. He thanked Neil for going beyond the call of duty on many occasions to help ASH reach their objectives.
Conference Web Site
The full details and resolutions from this National Conference can be seen for a limited time on www.conference.cancersa.org.au. One important resolution reads: "Australia should be moving towards an end game in which companies no longer profit from tobacco. The continued existence of a profit making industry is entirely inconsistent with the achievement of public health goals and respect for the law".
OUTDOOR SMOKING BANS
Since the last UPDATE 35 there have been some heated email exchanges between colleagues in the field about the wisdom of pursuing outdoor smoking bans. These issues are very important in terms of what the Non Smokers' Movement future objectives should be, so I will give readers an outline of the debate but without naming names. We don't want to establish a 'them and us' divide, but we must decide the merits of arguments to point the way ahead.
Activist A made statements to the media that we must pursue bans on smoking at all outdoor sporting venues such as tennis courts, Council owned football fields, streets and even parks and beaches. He said we should go all out for bans on street smoking in the same way that we demand bans on open air railway stations. It is a policy of "zero tolerance" to any level of exposure to passive smoking in public areas. Smoking is a private vice and should be restricted to private property such as the smoker's own homes. He said such a policy is justified both on the scientific grounds that there is no safe level of exposure to ETS, and also on the nuisance argument that it is personally offensive and deprives non smokers of their fundamental rights to clean air. There is also the strong argument of removing bad example from the eyes of children.
Activist B criticised the zero tolerance policy and said he would not support it because it made the whole anti-smoking lobby look too extreme and unreasonable. He attacked the scientific basis as not really defensible as there is more carcinogenic risk from burnt toast, overcooked meat, car emissions, mobile phones or power lines etc., compared to a single whiff of cigarette smoke walking down the street. He attacked the personal nuisance argument as reflecting a level of intolerance that he would not want to be associated with. He said this is an extreme position untethered to evidence or reasonable standards of curtailing liberty that would attract the charge of prohibitionism. That is, stopping people from doing what they want to do, even when there is no demonstrable harm to others.
Encourage All Public Benefits
Activist C came in to strongly defend A's position and said that the image of social acceptability of smoking is just what the industry wants to promote. If activists can gain ground pushing a zero tolerance argument, in spite of the initial public odium it will probably attract, then they should be encouraged not discouraged. Activist D then joined in with an opinion that if outdoor bans can be pursued on the basis of "nuisance", because smoking causes irritation to many people (eyes sinus etc.) and not on the basis of potentially lethal consequences, then it should be encouraged. Also there are other important public benefits such as reducing litter, reducing social acceptability, increasing incentives for smokers to quit etc.
The above is not a full treatment of these complex issues and does not represent the full arguments of the parties concerned. We would welcome members writing in with their views to help guide future policies.
Overseas Attacks on Outdoor Smoking
A local Council in Maryland USA has won a milestone legal battle to prove it does have the authority to make smoke free laws for parks, sidewalks and any other common property area. It now joins at least 75 governmental agencies that have instituted smoke free outdoor sites under their authority. If you can make people clean up after their pets foul up public areas what is so extreme about regulating smokers?
MARLENE SHARP SAYS THANK YOU
All letters of congratulations on that great passive smoking court victory, which were sent in by our members have been forwarded on to Marlene Sharp. After that other great news on 12 June that WorkCover were not going to appeal the verdict, Marlene went on a well-earned holiday to recover her strength after the stress of it all, including the media attention. She has now returned and on 14 July she sent NSMA a thank you for our support. We were one of the first agencies that Marlene's solicitors contacted for supporting evidence and information over three years ago. We also attended the closing stages of her seven weeks case to give her some moral support.
No One Should Have To Lose Their Health
While we are pleased that this has been a great step forward for non-smokers' rights, we are equally saddened that any individual had to lose their health in order to prove the iniquity of enforced passive smoking. The question still is: why do people have to prove health damage to get any attention to the problem? The answer, as always, is that our political masters are afraid to lead on politically sensitive issues. They only want to follow when the courts point to the bodies and say, you really must do something to stop this! Even now John Della Bosca and Bob Carr are seeking ways to justify not banning smoking totally in clubs and pubs. They put commercial interests first and non-smokers' health and rights to clean air last.
THREE CLUBS GO SMOKE FREE TOGETHER
We were delighted to hear that the Moama Bowling Club, the Rich River Golf Club and the local RSL Club have co- operated to go totally smoke free from 1 October 2001. These clubs are located on the NSW - Victorian border and it is a great example of progressive managements planning to meet the inevitable bans to come at some future time. By acting now they show they have genuine concern for eliminating health risks to their loyal employees who have suffered less than ideal working environments for many years. NSMA has sent congratulations to them and commended the sensible approach of all going together, rather than one local club holding out to gain a commercial advantage over the other during the initial period. Of course, many clubs are now looking carefully at their membership profiles and they realise that the majority of people are non-smokers and they would patronise clubs more often if it were not for the disincentive of cigarette smoke pollution.
Other Clubs Go Smoke-free
There was great publicity when the first NSW club went smoke-free in June 2001. This was the Mosman Rowing Club. One of our members in the area immediately congratulated the club and asked for a joining form because the smoke pollution was the thing which kept her out of all clubs until now. Other clubs announcing intentions to go smoke-free include Nambour golf club, and Maroochydore Bowling Club. There will soon be many more I'm sure.
PASSIVE SMOKERS ARE IN DANGER
Another damming report on the dangers of passive smoking has been issued by Japanese researchers at Osaka University. They have used ultrasound to study the coronary flow velocity reserve (CFVR) in the cells which line the heart's cavities and blood vessels. They compared the effects of passive smoking on otherwise healthy young smokers with non-smokers. They found that 30 minutes of passive smoking abruptly reduced the flow or CFVR in non-smokers but did not affect the already lower CFVR in smokers. In fact, passive smoking brought the CFVR levels in non-smokers down to those in smokers. A review in the July 2001 Journal of the American Medical Association says the study provides direct evidence of the harmful effect of passive smoking on the coronary circulation in non-smokers.
Comment: We should not have to prove it is going to kill us before we are entitled to breathe clean air in public places. However this kind of evidence means we should step up from a level of reasonable requests for clean air to unashamedly demanding clean air in all public places. We must leave our politicians in no doubt about our determination to get it even if it means voting them out of office.
Action Point 2. Write to your local MPs (Federal & state) and ask whether they support our calls for a complete ban on smoking in public areas starting with sporting fields and extending to streets, parks and beaches. Press them to define their positions clearly. Send copies of replies to our office.
NSMA REPRESENTATIVE IN SA
This conference in Adelaide provided a chance to talk over issues with local supporters. The photo shows Brian McBride meeting with Steve Patroni who has done great work with lobbying over the years. He has been particularly dedicated and very successful in getting letters to the press published on anti smoking issues.
HEALTHY CLUB DINING BY 6 SEPTEMBER 2001
This is the great day in NSW when the twelve months "exemption" period for smoke free dining in clubs and pubs comes to an end. All dining rooms must be fully segregated and ventilated separately from any smoking areas by that date. The NSW Smoke Free Environment Bill came into force on 6 September 2000 but it gave clubs and pubs a special exemption for their dining areas for twelve months. We suspect that many clubs and pubs will rely on a slack bureaucracy not enforcing the new rules with any great efficiency so they will be slow to comply. We urge members to ask their club directors or hotel managers in advance, what they are doing to comply. If there is no sign of building modifications in place they should let it be known that they will force inspection and closure or fines as soon as that great day arrives. Have no mercy on these people. They have been given plenty of time and plenty of warning. If they still don't care about your health you should not hesitate to report them to the NSW Department of Health on 02 9391 9111 . When you make such complaints you should ask to be notified of the outcome or if necessary, follow up yourself a few weeks later. There is no use winning these progressive new laws if we do not insist on rigid enforcement. No more excuses, we have had enough already.
Action Point 3. Inspect your local clubs and hotels for signs that they will comply with segregated smoke free dining areas by 6 September 2001. If in doubt, complain to the NSW Tobacco Control unit within the NSW Dept. of health on 02 9391 9111.
VENTILATION IS NOT THE ANSWER
The tobacco lobby are still trying to convince hotel owners that bigger and better ventilation systems can obviate the need to ban smoking. They are doing this both in USA and Australia. However former USA Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientist, James Repace, has done all the technical studies and confirmed his conclusions in a report published in June 2000. He says; It is clear that dilution ventilation, air cleaning, or displacement ventilation technology cannot reduce ETS risk to de minimis levels for workers or patrons in hospitality venues without massively impractical increases in ventilation. Smoking bans remain the only viable control measure to ensure that workers and patrons are protected from the toxic wastes of tobacco combustion.
SMOKE DRIFT FROM ALFRESCO CAFE DINING
This problem has been reported in previous UPDATES but the good news is that it is also supposed to be fixed by the same 6 September deadline. Section 10 of the above legislation had the same twelve months delay clause by which time restaurant and cafe owners are to be held responsible to ensure that no smoke drifts from smoking to non-smoking areas where food is consumed. This means you can ring the same numbers (above) and report alfresco dining arrangements that don't effectively keep the smoke out of the indoor areas.
DISGRACEFUL LEVEL OF FUNDING
Never let a day go by without telling your family and friends two of the most disgusting facts that condemns all of us for our failure to change them more rapidly.
ONE. The appalling fact that 250 million children alive today will die of cigarette smoking caused disease. (WHO Report)
TWO. Our Federal Government spends less than 1% of the vast $8.2 BILLION revenue it receives from tobacco excise on anti smoking campaigns. That shows a total cynicism about the public health of succeeding generations.
Action Point 4. Write to Santa Claus and ask him to give John Howard a heart for Christmas. Ask him to advise you how many of these children are Australians and whether he cares about doing something for them
Radio 2SM Sydney compare, Howard Sattler, was absolutely correct when he said that the Government leeches off smokers like a pimp off prostitutes earnings. He said that the Government should put more resources into helping people quit smoking.
P.S. We know NSMA will never see a dollar of Government funding but at least a well-funded network of public health agencies could double their results if their funding was doubled.
SYMPATHY FOR JOHN FAHEY?
There is a certain irony in ex State Premier & Federal Finance Minister, John Fahey, losing a lung to cancer caused by his years of heavy smoking. This is a man who had the power to apply real money to the anti smoking fight but chose not to do so. While we must sympathise with all victims of tobacco we should have more concern for the future children that John Fahey could have saved from the same fate. There will be many of our children and grandchildren who will suffer lung cancer because John Fahey and his myopic mates in Canberra did not do the right thing. They not only had the opportunity, but actually had the responsibility to properly fund anti smoking campaigns but failed to do so. I hope John writes on the Census form that he would like his family record preserved in the 100-year time capsule that is proposed. His government's role and his personal fate will be a subject for significant analysis and head shaking when the history of the tobacco scourge is reviewed in the year 2101.
BUTT LITTER EVERYWHERE
We will continue our attack on Sydney City Council for failing to get serious with littering fines for those ignorant smokers who throw their butts down without a second though. Some might go as far as stubbing it out on the top of the street rubbish bins thus turning them into a disgusting and repulsive sight for other users. Members have reported some moves in eastern Sydney suburbs to provide special astray bins near bus stops. Also the photo shows the new type of ashtrays being mounted outside city buildings in Adelaide. Our representative in Adelaide, Steve Patroni, tells us that he frequently finds little fires smouldering away because people put paper into them as well. These moves are not the answer. We must campaign to get cigarette manufacturers to provide a suitable disposal compartment as part of the packet. There should then be fines of $500 for any smoker disposing of the butt any way except in the correct container, which must also be put into land-fill and not allowed to enter the waterways.
EXPENSIVE BUT WRONG ADVICE FROM WORKCOVER
The NSW Government spends $189 million each year to maintain a large network of offices throughout the state. Depending on which local office you ring you may get different advice on the same complaint. (Shades of the Tax Office!). We complained to the Minister that workers were being fobbed off with complaints about workplace smoking due to ill-informed or inexperienced officers. They were being told "there is no specific legislation to ban workplace smoking, it is covered by different parts of several Acts, - it is a difficult problem etc. etc.," They gave workers the feeling it was all too hard to do and they did not proceed with action. Mr Ian Macdonald, MLC, Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister for Industrial Relations, has now replied on behalf of the Minister the Hon. John Della Bosca. He denies there is any problem and states:
"WorkCover NSW has developed an unequivocal policy regarding passive smoking in the workplace. When a complaint is received a letter is sent to the employer which outlines their responsibility under the Occupational Health & Safety Act 1983. It requests them to supply WorkCover with evidence of how they meet these responsibilities and a copy of the guidelines on passive smoking in the workplace is provided. Where the documentation received is unsatisfactory an Inspector will then visit the workplace and provide additional information to enable them to meet their obligations. Where the employer is not prepared to co-operate the Inspector will issue an Improvement Notice which formally directs them to comply with the legislation. Where they do not comply the Inspector may then issue an Infringement Notice (On the spot fine). WorkCover has received 77 complaints about workplace smoking since June 2000. All of these have been actioned in accordance with these procedures."
GAOLS ALL LOCKED UP TOO !
We also complained about exposure to ETS on behalf of a Warder who is constantly exposed but is afraid to openly fight the issue because of smoking superiors etc. A detailed statement of complaint was put to WorkCover but received a one paragraph reply from Mr. Macdonald:
"In respect to your enquiry about passive smoking in gaols, I can advise that these facilities are subject to the provisions of the OHS Act. WorkCover NSW will respond to complaints about ETS exposure in NSW gaols by taking action in accordance with the policy I have described."
So have no fears, whatever side of the wall you are on WorkCover will protect you from tobacco smoke. It's all under control; there is really no great problem. Yes Minister!
THERE IS NO RIGHT TO SMOKE
Last Update No. 35 we reproduced part of this article from ASH USA Review Feb. 2001, and now continued in this edition of Update No. 36. It said only a handful of activities have been held to be "fundamental rights" that are constitutionally protected and which the government is therefore limited in regulating. These are not activities like smoking but rather very private things like contraception, procreation, child rearing etc. Any other activity can be regulated provided the government has a "rational basis" for such action. Such rational basis is any logical reason, whether or not a court agrees with a policy or the evidence behind it. For banning smoking, even outdoors, these reasons include:
* Protecting the public from exposure to a known
cancer-causing chemical, especially since science
does not believe there is any safe lower level
below which ETS does not cause cancer.
* Protecting the health of those sensitive to tobacco smoke, even in small amounts on public sidewalks, etc.
* Because breathing even small amounts of smoke is irritating and annoying.
* To reduce a major form of sidewalk litter: cigarette butts.
* To avoid influencing young children; the same reason used to prohibit public drinking of alcoholic beverages.
The USA courts have consistently held that the act of smoking a cigarette does not rise to the level of a fundamental right. This principle has been applied to an ever-increasing list of state and local laws banning smoking in a great variety of places ranging from restaurants to sidewalks, parks and beaches. The laws are by no means confined to indoor situations.
GOOD ON YOU TERRI
The last Update reported a "good on you Elaine" story where she threw a cigarette butt back into the car when the driver threw it out while stopped at traffic lights. Now our Canberra member Terri, name withheld to protect from police retaliation, has gone one better. She writes to tell us that she threw a butt into a police car when the officer discarded it onto the roadway. He threw it out again and she threw it back in a second time, and it stayed there. You definitely get our award of the month for that one Terri. We need more members like you and I do hope you will come up to Sydney for our next round with the City Rail Mafia.
We could do with more of your kind of dedication.
DEAD SMOKERS DRAW NO PENSIONS
Philip Morris has carried out a study and told the Czech Government that it is good economics to encourage more people to smoke and die earlier to save on pensions. They calculated that the early death of smokers saved the government about $60 million in health care, pensions and housing during 1999. The report has generated outrage around the world and Philip Morris has gone into overdrive in damage control. They said, so convincingly, that they regret any impression that the premature death of smokers represents a benefit to society. As someone said, the interesting thing about the tobacco industry is that its reputation is already so bloody; it takes a lot for people to be shocked. I wonder if we could get Nick Greiner to carry out a similar study on the statistics in Australia so John Howard could use it as part of his economic platform for the next election.
Do It For Your Country
Following the above news item one radio station ran a comedy message from the government to smokers which said: "If you still smoke after all we have told you. you are obviously an idiot and we would be better off without you. Please take it up again - do it for your country - because we are stopping all Quit programs immediately".
SMOKING BREAKS TOO COSTLY
"Those cigarette breaks are expensive" says Dr Andrew Penman, CEO of The Cancer Council NSW. Cumulatively they add up to about a half-day every week per smoker. Over a year that equates to four weeks - the same as the annual leave entitlement. As an example Australia's largest employer is Coles Myer. With close to 170,000 employees they can expect that 83 workers will die in the coming year; they can anticipate 28 medical retirements and there will be $34.5 million off the bottom line that the shareholders won't see. Millions of dollars are literally going up in smoke.
Editor's Note: As reported previously our members are trying to get a motion debated at their AGM that Coles Myer discontinue being a willing agent for death and disease by selling cigarettes knowingly and recklessly leading to expensive future litigation against them. If you are a shareholder please contact us.
NO MORAL SCRUPLES WITH CHOP CHOP
The head of the Victorian Tobacco Retailers Association was found guilty of selling "chop chop" and fined $12,000 plus costs. This was the guy who said "everyone was doing it" and sold chop chop by mail order to 2 Tassie kids, and was unwittingly photographed by a newspaper in his shop with his feet on a bag of the stuff.
LATEST STATISTICS ON DRUG USE
In June 2001 the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW - Canberra) released a report titled "Statistics on Drug Use in Australia". It is a comprehensive report but here are just a few items of interest. Australians are consuming less alcohol and smoking fewer cigarettes than they were 10 years ago, but there has been an increase in the use of marijuana. Marijuana use in the past 12 months was considerably higher in Australia (18%) than in England and the USA (9%), Spain (8%), Canada (7%) and the Netherlands (5%). Nearly half of all Australians aged 14 years and over have used illicit substances at least once in their lives, while 23% report having used an illicit drug in the last year.
$8.2 Billion Blood Money
On average each adult Australian spent $559 on tobacco in 1998-99, with total government revenue being in excess of $8.2 billion. Per capita expenditure on alcohol on 1998-99 was $1,062. According to co-author of the report, Megan Miller, most Australians do not approve of either the regular use or the legalisation of illicit drugs, although approximately one-quarter think regular use of marijuana is acceptable. Other findings include: The number of hospital admissions attributable to drug use increased from 179,000 in 1995-96 to 200,000 in 1997-98. Smoking was the leading cause of drug-related hospital admissions (142,525). More than 19,000 deaths in 1998-99 were attributable to tobacco and just over 1,000 deaths were related to illicit drug use. One-third of Australian smokers unsuccessfully tried to quit smoking in 1998.
Editor's Note: The alarming rise and approval rating of Marijuana shows that we must not give up until we have won the right to totally clean "drug-free air" in all public venues regardless of the merits or otherwise of the drug's effects on the users.
ADELAIDE MEN GET SERIOUS
On world No Tobacco day a radio caller, Doug, says his daughter was a heavy smoker and her husband said he wouldn't have sex with her if she didn't quit. He says this helped her quit. I suppose this is a new twist on that old slogan, "Kissing a smoker is like licking an ashtray". We need more of these campaigns telling women how disgustingly unfeminine they are with a fag in their mouth, not to mention the way they stink.
HELP FOR HOSPITALITY WORKERS
Brian Daley from the Liquor and Hospitality Union has been on radio confirming that they are applying more pressure on pubs and clubs to go smoke free. The Union has set up a passive smoking register for hospitality workers and is encouraging them to keep a note of health problems they have because of passive smoking at work. These employers will be fools to continue to line themselves up for other successful damages cases like Port Kembla RSL Club worker, Marlene Sharp. The club directors are obliged to act in the best interests of members and if they don't they should be voted out at the next AGM.
HEALTH MINISTER CONFIRMS $13 BILLION
On 1 June 2001 Ray Hadley on radio 2UE asked Michael Wooldridge about figures that it costs $13 billion a year to treat smoking related illnesses. Hadley says some listeners queried the numbers yesterday. The Minister says the figures are absolutely true and that the country would be better off without tax from tobacco ($8.2 billion). The Minister defends the new series of graphic TV ads showing diseased organs does have an impact in reducing smoking.
WHO CALLS FOR TOTAL BANS ON PUBLIC SMOKING
The United Nations has marked World No Tobacco Day by calling for a global ban on all smoking in public places. There were some anti-tobacco protests across India to mark the day.
There has been a $800M blow out in the cost of the pharmaceutical benefits scheme, following the introduction of new drugs to treat arthritis and smoking addictions.
AGM AND CELEBRATION DINNER
The tentative date for our Annual General meeting will be Wednesday 28 November 2001. We will invite Marlene Sharp to be our honoured guest so we can thank her personally for her great contribution to the cause. The venue will be a restaurant in central Sydney with costs about $50 per person. Full details will be included with the next Update due out at end October 2001. So mark it in your diary now and make a special effort to attend. Your attendance is one way to show the Committee your appreciation of their efforts during the year.
AUSTRALIAN CIGARETTES WITH WATERED DOWN WARNINGS
Cigarettes being manufactured in Australia are being exported overseas with much smaller health warnings than are required under Australian law. WHO scientist in Australia, Mr Harley Stanton, says while tobacco companies are not breaking international laws on health warnings, he believes they are behaving irresponsibly, as they have a duty of care to provide the most comprehensive warnings possible. Harley gave a very enlightening address to the National tobacco Conference in Adelaide on this subject.
SMOKING IN IDLE BUSES
Dr Arthur Chesterfield-Evans MLC has confirmed that he has taken up the issue of amending the regulations to close this loophole. Let us hope he has more luck with the Minister than we have had.
GET WELL SOON JANET
We are sad to report that Janet Hudson, one of our regular helpers, has been in and out of hospital over the last few months and is not at all well. Janet is one of our most reliable helpers with mailing out this Newsletter so we hope she makes a full recovery very soon.
SHOP SHOULD BE PROSECUTED
NSMA investigated reports from a parent about a shop in Mowbray Road, Lane Cove which puts a very subtle portable sign out on the roadway as shown in the photograph. The mother said her child going to the public school directly opposite the shop was subjected to this cigarette advertising every day and she objected to it. We assured her it was illegal and we have complained to the authorities with photos and first hand evidence. We have offered to be witnesses so that prosecution could proceed. We are annoyed that they are trying to fob us off by suggesting that issuing a warning is sufficient. NSMA will not accept this and we won't rest until the owner is prosecuted.
DONATIONS - THANK YOU
Please accept this as a general thank you to all those members who included some level of donation in addition to their renewal of subscriptions during the last twelve months. To acknowledge them individually would add to the administrative load that we are already struggling to cope with. We are sure you know that your generosity is a great help in keeping the organisation afloat. The recent successes with smokefree restaurants will cause some members to think they have done enough. However it is vitally important to keep the momentum going
PLEASE KEEP THOSE DONATIONS COMING IN AND WE WILL KEEP DOING THE JOB THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE.
NIGHTCLUBS ARE BASTIONS OF SMOKING
Apart from the fact that these venues encourage young people to smoke they are now co-operating with tobacco companies by putting in VIP rooms. These are special promotions rooms used for getting young people to attend functions where cigarette girls do their bit introducing them to cigarettes. The tobacco companies pay the nightclubs to set up these rooms, which feature walls and ceilings painted in the same colour as Benson & Hedges packets that amounts to a form of subliminal advertising. The tobacco companies pay the clubs to install cigarette vending machines and then they pay something like $3000 for the clubs to put on entertainment that will attract a young audience.
SMOKING IN FLATS AND UNITS
To those new members having this problem please be patient with our lack of progress. We fully intend to get on with this project in the near future. Meanwhile we ask all members who know of anyone suffering this problem of smoke invasion from neighbours to get in contact with us.
The new bans on smoking in restaurants came into force in Victoria on 1 July 2001. Early reports show there have been no problems and all is going smoothly. Further action is due later this year in Queensland and Northern Territory. Over the sea in New Zealand things are just moving very slowly. The Smokefree Environments Bill has gone to another committee for refinement. At present it proposes that all new licensed premises must comply with smoking bans from 2002. However all existing premises will have until 2007 to comply unless the Bill is further amended.
The Non-Smokers' Update is the quarterly newsletter published for members of the Non-Smokers' Movement of Australia Inc.. Contributions or comments should be forwarded to the editor, Brian McBride, at the address shown on the front cover.
LEAVE A BEQUEST TO NSMA IN YOUR WILL. MANY PEOPLE LEAVE MONEY TO AGENCIES WHICH ALREADY RECEIVE GOVERNMENT PLUS SUBSTANTIAL CHARITY FUNDS. OUR ACTIVE ANTI SMOKING WORK HAS NEVER RECEIVED ONE DOLLAR OF GOVERNMENT SUPPORT AND WE RELY ENTIRELY ON THE GENEROSITY OF MEMBERS. YOU CAN ENSURE THAT THE GOOD FRONTLINE WORK WILL CONTINUE BY REMEMBERING NSMA IN YOUR WILL.
Please contact us if you need assistance with bequest procedures.