Non Smokers' Update
Issue 39, February - April 2002
Melbourne woman Rolah McCabe (51) made history on Friday 12 April 2002 when the Victorian Supreme Court awarded her $710,000 in compensation and damages for her lung cancer caused by a lifetime of smoking cigarettes. However, the really sensational victory for the anti-smoking lobby is that the court attacked the dishonesty and duplicity of Nick Greiner's British American Tobacco (Aust.) company in destroying vital evidence which would have proved the company's liability.
Justice Geoffrey Eames said British American Tobacco Australia Services (BATAS) and its lawyers, Clayton Utz, had deliberately subverted court processes to deny her a fair trial. The judge was so influenced by this dishonesty that he struck out the company's usual "we know nothing" type of defence and took the rare step of saying Rolah McCabe does not have to prove her case; the tobacco company automatically loses it because of their behaviour in destroying the evidence necessary to conduct a fair trial.
He instructed the jury to concern themselves only with "how much" she should be awarded and they came down with the figure of $710,000. Mrs McCabe, a mother of four children, had smoked this company's products from the age of 12 and she is now facing a death sentence from lung cancer with only months to live. We salute her courage in fighting back against the company which lured her into this deadly addictive habit without a word of warning although the world-wide evidence has now shown that they had the information and the relevant incriminating facts many years ago but chose to suppress it and hide it from their consumers.
The anti-smoking forces did a good job in supporting Rolah through her ordeal and helped her through the intensive media blitz that followed the case. Todd Harper, Executive Director of Quit Victoria said the documents were not just destroyed to deny Rolah a fair trial, it was a careful plan to deny a fair trial to any smoker who might sue one day for compensation.
Others could follow
Peter Gordon, senior partner of Slater & Gordon, which represented Rolah said the result cleared the way for others to take action against tobacco companies. Any smoker who sues British American Tobacco Australia may also have their case proceed straight to an assessment of damages without having to prove liability. Mrs McCabe's counsel, Jack Rush, QC, said the company has absolved itself from corporate memory and it is breathtaking in its audacity.
Document Retention Policy
The depth of their deceit is shown by the fact that they called this policy of shredding any damaging documents their "document retention policy"! A background story in the Sydney Morning herald on 12 April 2002 said that between November 1990 and March 1998 the company (then called WD & HO Wills) had in place "no shredding" orders because the previous case of Phyllis Cremona was before the courts. However due to her serious ill health Mrs Cremona discontinued her action in 1998. As soon as that happened and before another case got started the company started shredding the evidence in earnest. In fact while they were able to discover 11,600 relevant documents for the Cremona case; they were only able to find 844 documents for the McCabe case and 788 of these were merely ads for their brands of cigarettes. They knew there was some certainty about other cases coming up and one witness said that after the Cremona case there was a sense of urgency about implementing the company's document "retention" policy.
ASH Goes On Attack
The anti-smoking forces were well organised to feed the media frenzy which followed this momentous ruling. Anne Jones of ASH in NSW and Todd Harper of QUIT Victoria and others quickly called on the Government to re-open discussions with state and territory attorneys-general about initiating a public lawsuit against tobacco companies to offset public costs of treating smoking-related diseases. A similar initiative by the labor states 18 months ago failed when the liberal Federal Government declined to support it.
NSMA Joins In
Your organisation has written to the Federal Health Minister, Kay Patterson, pointing out once again, the disgraceful association between the liberal party and Australian tobacco companies including the fact that Philip Morris is still the major sponsor of the liberal party's annual conference. We have sought explanations as to why the liberal government is opposing the logical move to make tobacco companies pay for the damage they are doing to the health of Australians. We will also ask the Prime Minister if he still feels comfortable with his close association with these corporate criminals and how long he feels he can still get away with it now they have been so publicly exposed.
USA Seeks Australian Help
The wide publicity to this landmark case has resulted in the United States Government seeking access to Australian evidence of a worldwide program to destroy documents damaging to the tobacco industry. The US Justice Department has written to Slater & Gordon asking them to provide the evidence on which it based its case that documents with the potential to assist smokers suing tobacco companies had been destroyed. This fact has been widely claimed in America but the Australian ruling was the first by a court based on evidence of document destruction.
The Human Tragedy
While the anti-tobacco forces celebrate this milestone advance in the war against tobacco we do not lose site of the human tragedy that unfolded as Rolah McCabe told her story on 60 Minutes Channel Nine program on Sunday 21 April 2002. In spite of her obvious serious illness she braved the cameras to deliver that vital message to our young girls. She told them not to be deceived by the tobacco companies in their youth as she was in hers.
She admitted that she was dying and would not benefit from the money, which could never compensate for taking her life. However she felt some satisfaction in knowing that she had fought back and had achieved a result that may benefit many others in the future. Yes Rolah, it certainly will and we assure you that we, and many others, will continue the fight to ensure that your courage in persevering in spite of your illness is fully rewarded with maximum justice delivered to the tobacco industry in Australia.
Clayton Utz Toughs it Out
Both the Sydney Morning Herald and the financial review carried follow-up stories about another Melbourne woman, Ruth Scanlon, who died of lung cancer. It was alleged that the same legal firm, Clayton Utz, had pressured her into giving up her 1986 action against Rothmans because of threats that her family would be informed of her sexual history if she persisted. Of course no one would really believe that a tobacco company and a law firm from the big end of town would ever be so unethical as to employ private investigators to dig the dirt on the plaintiffs in any action!
Well you can believe it because Rolah McCabe said they tracked down her first husband somewhere in Queensland as part of their digging into her past in the hope of finding something to damage her credibility, but found nothing.
Clayton Utz Attacked NSMA
That same wonderful legal firm attempted to intimidate the Non Smokers Movement way back in 1987 when we prosecuted Channel Ten for breach of the Broadcasting and Television Act by way of their blatant Winfield Rugby League telecasts. As soon as NSMA put out a press release to publicise the fact that the prosecution had been launched good old Clayton Utz slapped a contempt of court writ on President, Brian McBride, and forced him to attend the NSW Supreme Court for several days until the matter was thrown out as having no substance. It was a blatant attempt at intimidation and abuse of process by Clayton Utz. They were Rothman's lap dog then and they are now licking boots for Nick Greiner at British American Tobacco Aust.
Appeal will be lodged
A local BAT spokeswoman said "we don't agree with the findings of the court. We will be filing an appeal and we're confident our defence to the case will be restored". Over at Head Office in London the Board Chairman said it was not a major setback because, even if one subsidiary had done something amiss, it could not legally be extended to affect the worldwide group. They are so smug and bereft of consciences their behaviour is truly disgraceful.
4419 CASES PENDING - BUT NO WORRIES
FOR BRITISH AMERICAN TOBACCO!
BAT has 4,419 lawsuits pending against the company in the US but has made no financial provision against them. Brown & Williamson, the company's US subsidiary, is at the centre of most of these claims. However, at the end of 2001 active claims against other BAT subsidiaries existed in 17 countries, according to their latest annual report. Countries where there are more than five active claims include Argentina, Brazil, Canada, the Netherlands and the Irish Republic where there are 300.
What's up with the Poms?
BAT said that there were no claims in the UK. In a number of these cases, the amounts of compensatory and punitive damages sought are significant, the annual report says. However, BAT has made no provision for any pending litigation and maintains that the ultimate outcome of all the cases will not significantly impair the financial condition of the group.
THANK YOU ROLAH
Rolah McCabe's has announced that she will donate $70,000 to the Cancer Council in Victoria to be used to educate young people about the real truth about smoking and cigarette companies
SIMPLY BAN TOBACCO AND SMOKING
The public disgust at the dishonest behaviour of tobacco companies has put more radical proposals to ban tobacco, or place nicotine on a controlled drug list available only on prescription, back on the agenda. Even that old apologist for tobacco, Padriac McGuiness, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald on 23 April 2002 said; "Why don't we simply ban tobacco and smoking? That is the question which must be asked in the wake of this latest court decision. If, as is claimed, nicotine is really addictive, why isn't it prohibited along with cocaine, marijuana and other such drugs?". He went on to give the answer that we all know - the governments want the enormous revenue from tobacco excise. They know that to recoup this revenue by raising other taxes would provoke a strong public backlash.
Smokers Not a Financial Burden
Poor Padriac is having withdrawal symptoms himself as he tries to withdraw from a pro-tobacco stance to align with the mood of anti-tobacco sentiment that is sweeping the country as the truth about tobacco slowly but inevitably emerges. He could not help himself from throwing in a few of his old nonsensical views such as:
"Smokers are not a financial burden - they more than pay their way. - If tobacco was banned, smuggling and crime would increase and smoking marijuana would expand to fill the space - the case against passive smoking is still dubious - the unceasing barrage of hysterical propaganda from the opponents of smoking suggests that truth is not wholly on one side."
Oh well Padriac, keep taking your medication and I'm sure you will get it right eventually.
Smokers Should Be Licensed
We outlined the logic of this proposal as a fairly radical suggestion in our last edition (Update 38 January 2002). However, as indicated by Padriac's article it is time for more lateral thinking and for more radical proposals to be fully explored if it will lead to a more effective reduction in tobacco consumption, and a more equitable distribution of the cost penalties to the community. When important intellectual commentators, like McGuinnes, propose that the major impediment to a solution is the fact that non- smokers will not be prepared to bear the fiscal pain of taxes to replace lost revenue; we should take on that issue and debate it fully.
New Smokers Should Meet Full costs
The proposal that NSMA puts forward is that the license fees for all smokers should be calculated to replace the lost excise on sales of tobacco. They must pay an annual licence fee, which is high initially but scales down if and when the cost to taxpayers can be shown to reduce. The general scale of fees should be calculated to progressively replace the tax excise on cigarettes that the government is projected to receive, say in the next ten years. Young smokers should pay more because they have more probability of being a drain on future health services and also as a policy dis-incentive to smoke. Older smokers would pay less in recognition of their earlier addiction and in order not to apply a retrospective penalty.
Break Government Addiction
Such a scheme would be revenue neutral to the government. In fact it would be cost neutral to the smoker over a lifetime because the money would be paid as annual fees instead of as a tax on each packet of cigarettes. More importantly, it would ensure that smokers meet the total cost of smoking damage and that it is not subsidised in any way by the rest of the community
A really important benefit of such a scheme is that it would remove smoker's taxes from consolidated revenue and thus give us some hope of breaking the government's addiction to these funds. When smoker's taxes and costs are quarantined into a separate statutory fund, which is self-funding in the long term and revenue neutral to government, we might finally get some real action against the tobacco industry by the government.
Fine Unlicensed Smokers
After every smoker is licensed the police or other agencies right down to council inspectors should be empowered to demand production of a licence by any person found smoking in public. Failure to produce a current licence should result in an immediate on-the- spot fine. This would be a nice little revenue earner for councils to cover their incidental costs of cleaning up litter etc.
GOOD NEWS ON TEEN SMOKING
The Centre for Behavioural Research released a new report in April 2002 giving the 1999 figures on teenage smokers. The survey has been taken every year since 1984 and this is the first time there has been a decline in the number of 12 to 15 year old smokers. The survey of 26,000 students at 399 schools across Australia provides a basis for estimating the total number of school age smokers. Dr David Hill is the principal author of the study and he estimated 269,000 students smoked in 1999. He said if they all kept smoking 134,000 would die prematurely from tobacco related diseases. Anyway the good news is that this figure means there are 2.5% fewer teenage smokers that in 1996 so lets hope the trend continues.
COMPLAINT ABOUT TV ADS
NSMA has lodged another strong complaint with the Australian Broadcasting Authority about continued snide advertising by tobacco companies. Ads such as the one shown here continue to appear on our screens in spite of the Broadcasting and Television Act bans dating back to 1984. Everyone can see that the Marlboro sign is placed on the tailfin of the racing car facing the camera mounted inside the car. The purpose of this "car-cam" camera is to give a view of the race from the racing car looking backwards.
Can't Avoid Sign Ad
The purpose of the sign is to ensure that no scene can be broadcast from that camera unless it includes the tobacco advertisement. Of course, this is not against the laws of the host country for many of these overseas Grand Prix events and is allowed if staged in Australia until 2006. Telecasts of signage are permitted if it is incidental to the news coverage of the event. However any fool can see that it is not incidental and unavoidable as in the case of having to show the sign on the bonnet of a car in the race or on the overalls of the winner being interviewed
Channels Seven and Nine Guilty
The complaint has been made against these two TV stations pointing out that other news footage is available without using the car-cam view of the race. The decision by these stations was a deliberate choice to use footage designed for the express purpose of cigarette advertising. The Authority was informed that the equivalent news coverage of the event by Channel Two did not use the car- cam footage thus proving that news coverage was possible and satisfactory without broadcasting a deliberate cigarette advertisement.
Complaint against 60 Minutes
One of our members, Billy McCall, lodged a similar complaint about snide advertising when Channel Nine broadcast a segment showing Russell Crowe holding and positioning his packet of Marlboro cigarettes in such a way as to be broadcast with his interview. Full marks to Billy for taking the time to complain because part of his complaint was upheld by the Australian Broadcasting Authority. They agreed that the TV station could have edited out this part of a pre-recorded interview and gave Channel nine a mild slap on the wrist. If enough of our members keep these complaints rolling in the Authority might actually proceed to a prosecution, which is what is needed.
Hollywood Actors Supplied with Free Cigarettes.
Another report released in March 2002 by the British Medical group, Tobacco Control, found that tobacco companies had worked diligently in the 1980's and early 90's to get as much screen time for their brands as possible. There is evidence that actors and directors were provided with free supplies of cigarettes to ensure there was plenty of lighting up when the cameras rolled. The study showed that smoking in movies was falling through 1970 and 1980's but increased significantly after 1990. We reported in the last Update that Australian actors Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett and Russell Crowe were in the vanguard of this practice of smoking both in movies and in promotions for their movies.
Virgin Against Smoking
We were pleased to note that at least one of the rich and famous has publicly knocked the tobacco industry. Sir Richard Branson, boss of Virgin Airlines, said he would consider most investment opportunities but he would never have anything to do with the tobacco industry because of the addictive nature of the product. He says he would rather his children smoked a joint than a cigarette. Not an ideal view but it does highlight proper awareness of the problem of addiction. Now if we could only get Dick Smith and Sir Richard to combine forces against the likes of Nick Greiner we might see a much earlier demise of the tobacco industry in Australia.
HELP YOUR SMOKING FRIENDS TO QUIT
The SMOKENDERS organisation has supported us for many years. If you have friends or family in need of quitting help please ring them on:
QUIT PROGRAMMES -1800 02 1000 (Free call)
Recorded information - 1900 95 1000.
RESTAURANTS NOT OBSERVING SMOKING BANS
This is a major issue and we wish NSMA had more resources to follow up complaints. However we advise NSW members to register their complaints both by phone and in writing to:
Tobacco Control Unit
NSW Dept. Of Health
73 Miller Street
North Sydney 2060
Tel: 9391 9111 Or contact your nearest local Area Health Unit - see list on page 1333 of Sydney white pages.
Some of the offending restaurants reported to us should be
avoided because they favour smokers and ignore
Ceruti's Bistro - Sydney Rd Manly
Gebram Lebanese Cusine - Wattle St. Mount Lewis.
Many others have been reported to the authorities but these two were so bad they deserve a special boycott.
OUR PLATFORM WARS.
Our platform vigilantes are taking a well-earned rest while this battle turns into a paper war with politicians and bureaucrats. We have now sent three rounds of 122 letters to all members of NSW Parliament. These focussed initially on the issue of railway staff either neglecting or refusing their duties. No one seemed too interested in that. Then we challenged the Minister to say whether his adoption of the new Smokefree Environment Act in place of his own more onerous byelaws was a deliberate step backwards to allow smoking in non enclosed areas where it was previously banned or whether it was just a slip-up by his administration. We pointed out that the new signs being installed on railway stations are actually incorrect and therefore illegal There seems to be some real interest in this aspect but it has all accumulated in the Minister's "too hard" basket.
Another MP takes up "that" Question
Member Andrew Dickinson has urged his local state MP for Auburn, Ms Barbara Perry, to support his tireless campaigning to have the smoking bans on railways enforced. She has agreed it is not satisfactory and has given an undertaking to discuss the matter face to face with Minister Carl Scully.
So far, experienced liberal members, Wayne Merton and Barry O'Farrell, have failed to get a specific answer from him so it will be interesting to see if the newest (Sept.01) female Labor member can force him to answer the question. We simply want to know if his backsliding to apply the "enclosed premises" laws instead of the "any covered area" railway bylaws was a deliberate decision to allow smoking back on station platforms where it was previously banned or was it just sloppy administration by his department? It is a simple, but no-win question, and Minister Scully has dodged all attempts to get an answer out of him.
BILL TO PROTECT THE YOUNG
David Oldfield, MLC One Nation member in the NSW Upper House has prepared a private members Bill in an attempt to make it illegal for under 18 year olds to smoke cigarettes. Many people know that it is illegal to sell cigarettes to these young people but few realise that it is not actually against any existing law for them to smoke if they choose to do so. David consulted NSMA and other health lobby groups in preparing this Bill. We fully supported the move. We are disappointed that other groups do not support it using a lame argument that it will "criminalise" our youth, or the equally lame proposition "that if it's illegal - it will be more attractive to rebellious youth".
One suspects that others are playing politics and do not want to support any One Nation initiative. However our members understand that we are not bound to any political or religious philosophies. We are strictly against public smoking. We are free to support any move by any party that will decrease the number of young smokers and hurt the tobacco industry. When we see obvious under age smokers around schools and railway stations we are currently unable to call authorities or do anything effective because they are not breaking any law. Even attempting to find out who broke the law by selling cigarettes to such kids is a futile exercise. At least this will allow some action to be taken.
However the main benefit is that it will demonstrate that Parliament it is really taking the under- age smoking problem seriously and getting it out of the "naughty boys and girls always try to smoke - don't worry about it syndrome". It should also become an effective deterrent to stop young people succumbing to peer group pressures to "go on just try one" because it gives them a valid defence for their decision not to try one.
Survey Supports Move
Channel Seven did a survey that came out at 80% in favour and 20% against the proposal. This would make it illegal for an under 18 child to smoke the same as it is illegal for them to drink alcohol. Police could fine young people who were drinking or smoking. About 25% of adolescents smoke and 20% of adults smoke and most people who are life long smokers took up the habit between 12 and 18 years of age. David Oldfield said, if we cut back the numbers of children smoking we would reduce the number of adults smoking and hence reduce the 940,000 hospital day beds used for smokers each year. Smoking kills more Australians than HIV and road accidents put together. His Private Members Bill will be debated in Parliament around mid-May 2002.
VICTORIA BANS SMOKING IN POKER MACHINE VENUES
The Steve Brack Labor Government in Victoria is to be congratulated on being the first state to really stand up to the tobacco industry and their mouthpiece, the Australian Hotels Association by bringing in these bans from 1 September 2002.
The Government has abandoned an earlier plan to introduce smoke free buffers areas extending 1.5 metres around poker machines. It will now ban smoking in all restricted gaming areas, such as the poker machine rooms. The legislation also provides that at least one bar must be smoke-free in hotels and clubs. Exemptions will allow smoking in some high roller areas of the casino catering to international clients. This legislation will give Victoria the toughest anti-smoking laws in Australia. Congratulations Premier Steve Brack and Health Minister John Thwaites.
CHESTERFIELD-EVANS TO ACT ON PUBS & CLUBS IN NSW
Ex President of NSMA, Dr Arthur Chesterfield-Evans is drafting a private members Bill to force the issue on smoking bans in pubs and clubs in NSW. He is observing progress in Tasmania and Victoria in particular and is discussing the issue with NSW Health Minister Craig Knowles. Perhaps the NSW Government may finally feel under so much pressure that they will bring in legislation themselves. Meanwhile it is good to see Arthur pushing the issue on behalf of the long neglected hospitality workers.
Professor David Hill, director Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria has also been on national radio talking about banning smoking in all venues, including bars in pubs and clubs. Further research has revealed support for banning smoking in these areas and it is logically necessary if we are to protect the occupational health of these workers.
Safe Smoking Rooms
All these moves make the NSMA proposal to ban all public smoking including streets and railway stations less radical by the minute. We stand for the total protection of non-smokers from unwanted ETS pollution whether you are sitting in a restaurant or standing at a bus stop. We therefore have some sympathy for the idea of "safe smoking rooms". If these became places like some dedicated bars, where non-smokers could choose never to go, it would satisfy our primary goal. We grant freedom of informed choice to adult smokers but we do not grant them any freedom to inflict their unhealthy pollution on us in any public situation. Our secondary goal is to support the health professionals in any move they make to reduce smoking to the lowest achievable level by whatever means are allowable in a democratic society.
VICTORIA BANS POINT OF SALE ADS
New laws banning tobacco advertising at point of sale came into effect in January 2002. Quit Victoria's Executive Director, Todd Harper, says the new laws are an important step forward for Victoria. Every day 13 Victorians die from smoking related illnesses, whilst new smokers begin the habit. Despite this enormous health problem, the tobacco industry has continued to heavily promote their products in retail outlets.
Research shows that 8 out of 10 new smokers are children or adolescents. Thanks to this reform, children will no longer be faced with a barrage of cigarette advertising when they go into their local shop. With other advertising avenues closed off to them, tobacco companies have been saturating retail outlets with cigarette advertising, exposing even very young children to their advertising messages when they purchase sweets, ice-creams and soft drinks.
The Government's ban on tobacco advertising at the point of sale is a very important reform for Victoria. However Todd Harper said the tobacco industry was already exploiting other avenues to market their products including sponsoring events such as dance parties. We must continue to be vigilant in closing down loopholes that allow the tobacco industry to promote their products, he said.
DEMOCRATS CRITICISE ACCC
Senator Lyn Allison has criticised the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for not being tough enough on tobacco companies. The ACCC is now investigating deceptive conduct following the court finding that British and American Tobacco deliberately destroyed documents in the McCabe case. They have also been criticised for not doing enough to support moves on product labelling and advertising.
LIBERALS LIE LOW
Prime Minister John Howard and other liberal leaders are maintaining a low key response to the McCabe case. After all, you would not expect them to come out with all guns blazing against the major sponsor of their liberal party conferences and major contributor to their party slush funds. They also have to be wary of friend and kingmaker, Nick Greiner, who has shown his pull in NSW with the recent manoeuvring to put John Brogden in as leader of the state opposition. The most we have heard from Canberra is a muted comment from Federal Health Minister, Kay Patterson. She says she is concerned at revelations that BAT Australia is at the centre of a landmark judgement on smoking, involving allegations of shredded documents which were relevant to the case.
It's all Happening in USA - Belmar Beach Now Smokefree
Belmar Beach in new Jersey USA has banned smoking on the beach and boardwalk except in designated areas. The impetus for the local ordinance was the problem of cigarette litter (just like Bondi). The New Jersey branch of GASP supplied the information and testified in favour of the ordinance. Their opponents were smoker's rights advocates who argued that ETS is not proven to be harmful and that smoking is not addictive. As GASP said, it was like arguing with someone from the Flat Earth Society.
GASP submitted a policy paper entitled "Will the Sky fall down if it's not held up by tobacco smoke?" They won the argument and hence achieved both clean air and clean sand for beachgoers.
SMOKE INVASION BY SMOKING NEIGHBOURS
This is proving to be a very vexed legal question but NSMA is sticking with the problem until some solution is found. We have submitted a case outline to a solicitor and barrister but have been disappointed with the initial negative advice not to proceed. We are re-grouping at present and hope to be able to report more progress by next edition.
Paradoxically success with anti smoking pressures is causing some of the problem. Many spouses now make their partners smoke "outside" to protect themselves and their children. This means they go out on the balcony and inflict their toxic pollution on the parents and children next door to them. This is totally unjust and a legal/political solution must be found.
CELEBRITY APPEALS DO WORK
Lee Joo-il, one of South Korea's best loved comedians, has a mission that may well be his last. But he has already guaranteed an enduring legacy. The 62-year-old entertainment guru, who used to trigger laughter with slapstick routines, was diagnosed late last year with lung cancer caused by a lifetime of smoking. Lee, with rubber tubes stuck in his nose to help him breathe; now appears on South Korean television shows and in magazines to promote an anti-smoking campaign, dubbed the "Lee Joo- il Syndrome."
Shades of Yul Brynner's Appeal
The comedian's appeal is reminiscent of Hollywood actor Yul Brynner's own 1980s anti-smoking call before his death from lung cancer. It has touched many Koreans and prompted companies to start their own anti-smoking campaigns by offering incentives to quit. The important message for us is that the campaign is actually effective and national cigarette sales are falling. We believe that the special appeal by Rolah McCabe directed to young girls not to end up like her due to smoking will also hit the mark. It was an emotional appeal from a dying woman and it touched everyone who saw it on TV both here and overseas.
World Cup Appeal
The bad news from ASIA is that a new 'World Cup' Brand of cigarettes will be launched and heavily promoted during this major sporting event in Korea in May 2002.
ACTION ON SMOKING AND HEALTH
Members should see the latest edition of Smoke Signals which is a monthly summary of tobacco issues and news at www.ashaust.org.au/lv3/informationheatlh.htm Anne Jones is the spokesperson for ASH and we regularly see her doing a great PR job on television and radio. Anne provides the above web site to keep us all informed of the latest anti smoking initiatives.
ANOTHER IMPORTANT TEST CASE
An insurance company is suing tobacco company, BAT Aust., in a lung cancer test case. The insurer has already paid $200,000 compensation to Port Kembla worker, Alan Mowbray, who has cancer through exposure to asbestos. The claimants now say Mr Mowbray's illness was exacerbated by his smoking BAT products for over 50 years.
The case is being fought for Brambles who accepted that the man employed by them was exposed to asbestos, which contributed to his disease. However the company claims that the tobacco company also contributed to illness and death of a man who died of the asbestos disease. The tobacco industry could be exposed to thousands of other asbestos related cases where the victims were also smokers if the insurance company wins.
SUING FOR ADDICTION
Another key case is that of an Adelaide man who is suing the British American Tobacco Company (BAT) over his 40-year addiction to smoking. Pensioner, Anthony Harris, is seeking $20,000 in damages to pay for his eventual funeral, but lawyers for British America Tobacco want the claim struck out, saying BAT didn't exist when Mr Harris started smoking in 1960 (they were Rothmans & WD-HO Wills then - aren't lawyers wonderful !). This man has spent $75,000 on cigarettes since he was 14 years old. Good luck Anthony; we would like to see you win after we lost that other case by Dr Sarah Hodgson suing for the cost of treatment to cure the addiction. It is time someone won on this issue.
SMOKERS ABUSE COMPANY TIME
A new survey by recruitment giant, TMP Worldwide, shows on average smokers spend 50% more time away for the office than non smokers and make more errors than non smokers because of higher carbon monoxide levels in their systems. (One would also have to observe that modern smokers can't be too bright anyway!)
Over 70 per cent of Australian workers feel smokers abuse company time, by taking around an hour a day in smoke breaks. The Tasmanian Government has already taken a stand on smokers abusing public service work time by making them clock-off to smoke. Many employers have been working to stamp it out, but it is difficult to police and accusations of victimisation tend to apply. However the Tasmanian Government's stance is a great move because it leads other organisations and government departments to take the lead and investigate what they can do.
BONDI POLLUTED WITH BUTTS
Clean Up Australia organisers estimate 700,000 cigarette butts are buried on Bondi Beach. John Stanley (2UE) said he finds this sickening. We fully agree and we commend the Keep Australia Beautiful Campaign for commissioning a study to give governments and local councils some facts and figures on the extent of this blight on the community. Our members, particularly John Philpott of Randwick, have kept pressure on local councils to do more about this problem. John has obtained a copy of the 17-page report by consultants McGregor Marketing concludes that cigarette butts constitute 50% of all litter by number of item counts.
Local Councils spend an average of $80,000 per year cleaning up such litter and, even then, the job is only partly done. There are 9 million butts thrown away in NSW every year. Most of these finish up in drainage systems and finally, in the harbour. They take 5 years to break down so they are really a severe environmental hazard that must be addressed.
Tobacco Manufacturers should bear Costs
The Sun-Herald reported (28/4/02) that the Environment Protection Authority is helping councils to issue smokers with portable bins, dubbed "butt-bins". Smokers can use the palm-size devices to store butts temporarily until they can dispose of them properly in garbage bins instead of dropping them on the street.
Now isn't this typical of government agencies to push the costs on to taxpayers instead of making the real culprits bear the cost of containing the problem? NSMA has long been asking authorities to force tobacco manufacturers to provide a "disposal compartment" as part of the cigarette packet. This would be a simple logical solution where the cost of "butt-bins" is borne by those responsible for selling and profiting from the offending product instead of putting back on to the taxpayers.
Action Point: Write to your local council and to your local MP and press for legislation to provide disposal compartments on cigarette packets. Express your opposition to councils and the EPA putting these costs on to tax and ratepayers.
COUNCIL BUTT BINS
Lucy Turnbull, Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney Council has been on radio talking up the need for the introduction of portable ashtrays in the Sydney CBD. Cr. Turnbull says that half of the rubbish on the streets in Sydney is smoking related. The Council did distribute some ashtrays during the clean up Australia campaign.
However this Council rejected NSMA suggestions last year that the most logical way to solve this litter problem and at the same time protect the health of citizens was to ban street smoking to designated smoking areas only. We will keep knocking on their door about this because it is what should apply in crowded city streets. If we can talk about banning cars in the CBD why not also ban smokers and clean up in a really big way?
SOUTH AUSTRALIA ACTS ON POKIES POLLUTION
Nick Xenophon, MP has long condemned playing poker machines but he is now campaigning against smoking in poker machine rooms. He says when Parliament resumes again in May 2002 there will be legislation going forward to ensure that poker machine rooms and the Casino will be smoke free.
Adelaide Railway Smoke-free
Lollypops were offered to rail commuters on 1 March 2002 as a healthier alternative to smoking, which is now totally banned inside the Adelaide Railway Station. It is some strange form of intimidation that authorities seem to feel they have to be apologetic and sympathetic to smokers on those rare occasions that they try to curtail their pollution. Perhaps that is what is holding up the long overdue decision in NSW - Minister Carl Scully can't afford the cost of the lollipops with an election looming.
NEW YOUTH GROUP AGAINST SMOKING
The Australian Network on Young People and Tobacco (ANYPAT) launched the first-ever National Youth Tobacco-Free Day on April 10, 2002. The theme for the day was "Tobacco companies . The truth will make you mad". Young spokesperson, Natalie Lippmann attacked movies that glamorise smoking and popular websites that sponsor rave teen parties, which are the latest weapons in the competitive hunt for tobacco profits from young people. In response to these pro-smoking messages in films, ANYPAT is calling for anti-smoking messages to be shown in cinemas all around Australia.
The aim of National Youth Tobacco-free Day is to educate young people about the tobacco industry and the dangers of smoking, says Anne Jones, Chief Executive Officer, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). The tobacco industry in Australia will sell more than $100 million worth of cigarettes to young people this year. She said you only have to think of popular films like 'My Best Friend's Wedding' and 'Titanic' to realise how smoking is glamorised for the young movie audiences.
BAN ON BUTTS
NSMA member, Andrew Dickinson, has taken a new initiative by organising other members with email capability to join in a campaign urging City Rail staff to revolt and refuse to sweep up cigarette butts thrown on railway stations by dirty irresponsible smokers. It is demeaning and unnecessary work when staff has been drastically cut and are generally over-worked.
Associate Professor Simon Chapman has continued the attack on tobacco sponsorship in Australia with the staging of the Melbourne Grand Prix. See his article published in the Sydney Morning Herald at www.smh.com.au/news/0203/01/text/opinion4.html.
TOBACCO TAXES STILL NOT HIGH ENOUGH IN ANY COUNTRY
Tobacco products in developing countries are cheaper now than they were a decade ago; sometimes even cheaper than bread or rice-says the World Health Organization (WHO). They say low tobacco product prices have grave consequences in countries that could soon see the greatest number of tobacco-related diseases and deaths. A new study by WHO, looking at tobacco price trends between 1990 and 2000 in over 80 countries indicates that, for the most part, cigarettes have become more expensive in most industrialised countries but are more affordable than ever in many developing countries.
Over 70% of the 8.4 million tobacco deaths that are projected to occur in 2020 will occur in developing countries. WHO warns that cheaper tobacco products will only fuel the tobacco epidemic leading to more consumption, disease and death in the future. Developing countries where tobacco control programmes are not yet comprehensive and where prices have decreased in the last decade can be found in every continent.
Recommendations made by WHO to counter these problems include: regional co-operation to harmonise tobacco prices, which cuts down the incentive to smuggle across borders. Also government action to adjust prices with increases in the Consumer Price Index so that they keep up with inflation. A strong push for price and tax measures should be part of ongoing negotiations for a Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. This new study can be found in the journal of Tobacco Control 2002 Volume 11 No.1, available at www.tobaccocontrol.com.
FINE PARTICLE DAMAGE
A new study by Dr Arden Pope, Brigham Young University, Utah has confirmed that people living in polluted cities face greater risk of lung cancer and heart disease. Dr Pope says fine particles penetrate deeply into the lungs while coarse particles are filtered. He compares the process with people being exposed to second-hand smoke from a spouse who smokes. Passive smokers are exposed to more fine particle pollution. Dr Pope says mortality is not associated with coarse particle air pollution. He says public policy efforts to clean up air have resulted in real health benefits.
PARENT NOT TO SMOKE
A judge in the US has ordered a smoking mother to stop lighting up in the car or in the home if she continues to want visitation rights to her 13-year-old son. The son had complained about his mother's a pack a day cigarette habit. The mother has lost custody of her son because she smokes. This is the first time nicotine addiction has played a role in a custody battle, but perhaps it won't be the last.
ETS REVIEW OF EXPOSURE IN AUSTRALIA
The Environmental Tobacco Smoke in Australia literature review, prepared by the Vic Health Centre for Tobacco Control, for the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, has been released on the Department's website. The review identifies the attitudes, knowledge and behaviour of communities regarding ETS. It also draws on data to describe the various forms of exposure to ETS and provides information on the economic impact of non- smoking policies on business. The review provides a description of current policy and legislative initiatives at the time of writing. The review is only available electronically and can be found at: www.health.gov.au/pubhlth/strateg/drugs/tobacco/resources.htm
Our member, Steve Patroni, has been active in complaining about infringements to South Australia's ban on smoking in restaurants and has forced the local authorities to discipline some offenders. His complaints have gone right to the top and he has personally received replies form the Deputy Premier, The Hon. Dean Brown promising action particularly on poor signage in some exempted premises. Steve can also claim some credit for the big breakthrough of a total ban on smoking anywhere on Adelaide's main railway station. Advertisements have been published in newspapers throughout the city and they do intend to enforce it. If only we could achieve a similar breakthrough in poor backward Sydney.
HELP FOR INDIGENOUS IN QLD
The Queensland Health Department has released a new video to help indigenous youth from their communities to avoid alcohol, cigarettes and drugs. The Department says that the video should be able to assist young people on their transition from their communities to the towns. We are all concerned about the obvious exploitation of young smokers in developing countries so it is only right that we do something about the same major problem in our own indigenous communities.
Letters To Editor
I would like to remind members that all Kraft Products are owned by the American tobacco company Philip Morris, including our beloved vegemite and Eta peanut butter. Our fellow Australian, Dick Smith, provides Australian made alternatives including "Ozmite". .Members should think about the future of our children when they decide what to buy. Don't support drug-pushers - boycott them!
We are in Canada at present and delighted with their anti- smoking actions. Just today a court has upheld the right of the City of Ottawa to ban smoking in all public places including restaurants and bars.
Bridget Grounds & Charlie Brady.
LEAVE A BEQUEST TO NSMA IN YOUR WILL.
Please think about this to keep the good work going into the future
All Hospital Grounds To Be Smokefree
Dr Greg Stuart from the NSW Dept of Health has stated on Sydney radio that there is now a push to ban smoking from all areas surrounding hospitals which would extend the current bans which only apply inside the buildings. This would ban smoking in the grounds and the car parks. He says that if smoking had been totally banned (years ago) then we would have millions more to spend on Medicare.
FURTHER NOTICE OF 25TH ANNIVERSARY
DINNER CELEBRATION - 6 NOVEMBER 2002
October 2002 will mark the 25th anniversary of the formation of the Non Smokers' Movement of Australia. The date is tentatively set for the dinner on 6 November but will be confirmed in the next Update at the end of July. If you know anyone who was a member in the early years but has lost contact with us please let us know. In particular if anyone knows the current contact details for Roy Bishop and Joy Hart please let us know. Of course you should make a diary note now and plan to make up a table of friends (non members welcome). Come along to make this our biggest celebration dinner yet.
Ex Servicemen Could Sue Federal Government
The Federal Government and Australian Defence Forces (ADF) handed out free cigarettes during World War Two. Ron Edwards of ACOSH and Anne Jones of ASH are campaigning for the ADF to cease providing them tax- free. One widow, Betty Raynor, says her husband was a non-smoker and did not drink alcohol before he joined the Army in WW2, but returned from the war a smoker and a drinker. Mrs Raynor says her husband died as a result of smoking and this is the fault of the ADF. She says the Dept of Veterans Affairs refused her a pension because as far as they were concerned her husband died from smoking related illness.
BE READY FOR 31 MAY 2002
NSMA will be planning some activities on WORLD NO TOBACCO DAY. Please consider getting involved if we ring you for assistance.