NSMA Prepares for Action Against the SRA
NSMA has had enough of the State Rail Authority's (SRA) non-implementation of their theoretical 'bans' on smoking on railway platforms.
For 20 years we have been agitating for the simple right of commuters to breathe clean air while they are travelling on Sydney trains. Even 20 years ago there was a by-law banning smoking on all covered railway platforms but there was no way you could get SRA staff to even recognise it - let alone enforce it. In those bad old days we even got arrested for putting up our own no smoking signs which was then construed as defacing railway property!
Now 20 years later, and after fresh legislation in 1994 putting the legal issues beyond debate, we are still getting the same kind of bureaucratic brain dead responses that leave our members frustrated and exhausted. Hence we have resolved to co-ordinate all those disadvantaged commuters who daily put their health at risk to take a "Class Action" against the SRA. This will involve both employees of the SRA, who are doubly at risk due to prolonged exposure to passive smoking as well as those members of the public who are no longer prepared to put up with this forced exposure to a known health risk.
To kick this off we have run an advertisement in the Railway's Employees Trade Journal inviting workers to register their complaints with us and to be joined to the proposed legal action which is already taking shape based on a core group of employees whose complaints are already in hand with us. We have tried to get some justice for them but they have been ignored for years by SRA management. Even worse in some cases they have put pressure on employees making them appear to be trouble makers if they stand up for their rights.
The other equally important part of this action will depend on you our members and other concerned members of the public who will be involved through literature handouts on the railway stations to identify people wanting to join this Class Action.
All members should be very clear on the following facts:
- Transport Regulations 1994 state that a person must not smoke on any train or on any enclosed or otherwise covered SRA premises.
- Recent correspondence between solicitors and the SRA have confirmed that all the railway awning areas on all suburban and country stations are non-smoking areas. (We are pressing for a total ban within the ticket barriers and we expect to get it eventually.)
- It is still illegal to smoke in these areas even if there are no "No smoking " signs.
- Fines of $200 apply, but of course this is never enforced.
What You Should Do
Strong action by our members will greatly contribute to a speedier solution and we ask you all to take these steps whenever you see illegal smoking on your railway station.
1. Complain to attendants that you are being subjected to passive smoking (assaulted) against your will and that it is harming your health. (No proof of damage is required)
2. Ask that the smoking be stopped or that names be taken and $200 fines imposed.
3. Regardless of the outcome of your verbal complaints make sure you follow up and confirm your request in writing to the Stationmaster at that station. If possible deliver it personally and repeat your verbal complaint.
4. Copy the complaint to us with a request that you be included in the class action for damages against the SRA. This will not cost you anything more than a stamp at this stage. You are not committed by this action and there will be lots of advice and consultation before we proceed to the next stage.
5. Copy your complaint to Workcover NSW, Locked Bag 10, Clarence St., Sydney 2000, since they have responsibility for smoking-heath issues and do have authority to investigate on SRA property.
Remember we are an activist organisation trying to make things happen but we need active members to ensure success. So please play your part by taking a few more train trips, possibly with friends as witnesses, speak up about illegal smoking and get those written complaints in to us. You should also copy your complaint to your local state MP because political action will also be part of the solution.
Action Point 1
Take action against the SRA (refer above) - do it now ! - do it well and win tobacco smoke-free travel in 1998!
Standby For Action Please!
As the battle with SRA/City Rail unfolds we will need volunteers to help distribute literature and to gather signatures or to stage protests etc. Please be on standby for a call from our campaign organisers and do your best to help with the frontline activities.
Action Point 2
Write to us and register your willingness to distribute leaflets and/or to take part in rallies or demonstrations.
Many thanks to our regular volunteers who help out with the big chores like enveloping the renewal notices and enclosures which must be sent out with the regular issues of "UPDATE". The two Brians plus Murray together with Marguerite, Wendy, Kate and Carol made a very special effort to complete the last mailout in December in just one day whereas it usually falls to the faithful few like Margarita and Katherine to spread the work over several days. I'm sure I speak for all members when I say thanks a million to our volunteer workers - we could not do without them.
Action For 1998
The list of things we could or should do in 1998 is, as usual, longer than all the Committee members arms stretched end to end. Some of the campaigns under active consideration in addition to the primary Class Action against SRA are as follows:
- Support for member Stephen Maher in his long running battle with the SRA.( Court case 27 February 1998)
- Support for member John Coyle in his equally long running fight for smoke-free Roadhouses used by Qld Rail.
- Attack and discredit our local tobacco company directors starting with that failed politician Mr "Nickoteen" Greiner. (Condemn them all regardless of political colour!)
- Support for Mrs X and others subjected to passive smoking in the common areas of flats and home units.
- Rally against the disgraceful Winfield sponsorship of the Melbourne Grand Prix.
- Contribute to the established health lobby push for a smoke-free Olympics.
- Accelerate the implementation of the NSW legislation banning smoking in Pubs and Clubs before 2004.
- Attack the inept handling of the proposed new air quality standard by the Standards Association.
- Establish regional activity cells amongst our members to promote more effective communication and more participation in rallies etc. when required.
There are many other suggestions but as in the past we must devote our resources to where we can get the best result for the outlay, including the many hundreds of hours put in by campaign volunteers.
Perhaps some of the above issues strike a chord with you or perhaps you feel strongly that something else should be added to the agenda. We would be very pleased to hear your views and suggestions. Please drop us a line or a fax particularly if you would like to participate in any of these campaigns.
Action Point 3
Write in to us with your suggestions for priority campaigns in 1998.
Smoke-Free Roadhouses In Queensland
We must commend our diligent campaigner, John Coyle, who has been constantly prodding the transport minister about the need to ban smoking in Roadhouses. These are the bus stop-over stations which are effectively an extension of the rail systems as country lines are closed down and replaced with bus services. As such they should be smoke-free the same as on the buses or trains. Members who have first hand problems with smokers in these areas should write complaints to the Health and Transport Ministers and send copies to us to assist John's efforts.
Fighting Back In Tuggerah NSW
Mr Don Cook, of The Central Coast Area Health Service, has advised of action to combat the promotion of smoking through product placement in movies which is a matter for increasing concern. During the school holidays for 4 weeks strong anti-smoking ads were screened at the Greater Union Cinemas to alert youngsters and parents to the promotion of smoking in the movies. Don says research has shown that the number of young adults smoking on camera more than doubled from 21% in the 1960s to 45% in the 1980s, compared to 26% in real life. Clearly there is a deliberate promotion going on and the movies cannot be said to be reflecting real life situations.
Your Money In Tobacco
Again Don Cook is also taking the initiative in asking anyone with superannuation money invested in Axiom, the fund manager for NSW State Super, to write to them and ask them to divest the $33 million they have in tobacco company shares. For more detail contact Don on 02 4320 4518.
Changes In The Office
You may be aware that Katherine McKernin succeeded in getting a full-time position and hence left our office in October "97. Good luck Katherine in your new career. Meanwhile Wendy Rice and Brian McBride have filled in to keep the wheels turning until more permanent arrangements are put in place.
Also in the interim the office phone is diverted to Brian's home whenever the office is unattended so we have full seven days coverage of any phoned requests. Brian can also receive faxes direct on his Tel/Fax No. 9894 6647.
20th Anniversary Dinner
The pressure of other news precluded any coverage of this event in the Nov-December issue. However a very successful and enjoyable function was held in the North Sydney Bowling Club on 8 October 1997 to mark the 20th year of NSMA's ongoing struggle to win tobacco smoke-free air in all public areas in Australia. The night was too short for a full review of progress made but after dinner there were several speakers:
- Brian McBride gave an outline of the events mainly "on the buses" which gave rise to the formation of The Non-Smokers' Movement of Australia in 1977.
- Brian Robson showed slides representing some of the visible milestones in our campaigning such as the march on to Wynyard and Town Hall Stations and the picket line at the airports etc.
- Peter Macdonald, MP gave an inside view on the legislation for future bans which was passed in May 97.
- Ann Jones of ASH, and Neil Francey, barrister, gave an update on the Sue Meeuwissen win against Hilton hotels which was topical news of the day.
A good night was had by all so, if you missed it, make sure you don't miss the next one. We will probably have a coming of age party when we turn 21 on the 14 October 1998 - so keep the date free.
Overseas News and Action
Tobacco Industry To Appear Anti-Tobacco.
Professor of Medicine at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), Stan Glantz, has presented a new case study of the California Uniform Tobacco Control Act, Proposition 188 ballot held in 1994.
This research not shows that the Proposition 188 was in fact a tobacco industry sponsored initiative but was promoted as an anti-tobacco or tobacco control measure to fool the voters. The tobacco industry stayed in the background and funded the campaign to the tune of US$18 million through a front organisation of small business and restaurant owners.
Happily the combined efforts of the anti-smoking groups succeeded in alerting voters to the deception by exposing the funding source so the Proposition was defeated and stronger anti-smoking measures have now come into effect. However the research teams warns that similar strategies of deception are now being promoted with the tobacco industry trying to convince congress to pass a so-called "global settlement" of tobacco litigation. This is being presented as anti-smoking legislation but actually would be a bailout for the tobacco industry.
1 January 1998 California Sets The Pace
On the first day of '98 Californians have shown the world where we should be going on banning public smoking. They have now added public bars to the already impressive list of places where you cannot smoke. Of course there has been the usual slow compliance problem aided and abetted by pro-tobacco groups like the National Smoker's Alliance who are calling for repeal of these laws. As far as bar worker's health is concerned they promote the enlightened view that if they don't like smoke they can get a job elsewhere! The California Department of Health says they will not rush into applying fines on the owners who could be up for $100 first time and $7,000 for repeated offences. They say they will concentrate on "education" as the first priority. SMH 3/1/98
Not All Good News
Although the United States is cracking down on the sale and marketing of cigarettes at home, its government still officially helps the tobacco industry expand in other countries.
One reason that the tobacco companies have been able to withstand the pressures in the USA so easily is the extraordinary growth of smoking outside USA borders. SMH 25/6/97
The government rationale is that there cannot be any unfair discrimination against legal American products - and that includes tobacco.
Lets hope the US Trade Dept. can develop more enlightened policies in 1998.
Jim Proctor In USA
Our recent treasurer has sent us several E-mails and postcards to keep us informed on his motorcycle tour of USA and Canada. He sends best wishes to all for the New Year.
8 March 1998 - Australia's Day of Shame
On this day the world will again see Australia as one of the backward nations allowing tobacco advertising on their television screens.
The event will be one of Jeff Kennet's little ego-trips as he allows Melbourne to be turned inside out with chaotic noise and pollution to stage the Formula One Grand Prix.
Many years of hard work by the combined anti-smoking and health forces in Australia finally succeeded in getting "Winfield" cigarettes off our TV screens through Rugby League sponsorship. Now due to the weakness of our political leaders we see them sneaking in the back door to get Winfield on the box again in all its gory red and white livery complete with the Aussie kangaroo logo to show the world that we really do know how to market cigarettes to the youth of this country.
Our pathetic Federal Health Minister, Dr Wooldridge, had his usual 50 cents each way by declaring that he is "disappointed over the decision to link Australia's attractiveness as a tourist destination with the promotion of cigarettes". On the other hand he has the power to not give the necessary exemption to allow it to be televised but he fails to do so, citing concern for lost jobs etc, if the Grand Prix went elsewhere. It appears that a few jobs now is a fair trade for a few lives later.
It only remains for us to wish the Williams team of Jacques Villeneuve and Heinz-Harad Frentzen and their fellow drug-pushers all the best of bad luck. If any of them end up in hospital lets hope they have time to visit the cancer wards and begin to contemplate their role in this vicious cycle of addictive drugs promotion and early death.
Tobacco Industry Accused
The US Justice Department filed criminal charges against California biotech firm
DNA Plant Technology Corp. for conspiring with a tobacco company to manipulate
levels of nicotine in tobacco.
The firm pleaded guilty to a charge of exporting tobacco seeds without a permit and hiding information
about the seed shipments from Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigators.
In addition, the firm agreed to assist the Justice Department in its probe into tobacco companies.
The Justice Department did not name the tobacco company, though in its statement of complaint it asserted that Brown & Williamson's goal in working with DNA Plant was to "develop a reliable source of supply of high nicotine tobacco that [Brown & Williamson] could then use to control and manipulate the nicotine levels in its cigarettes." Three years ago, Brown & Williamson acknowledged developing genetically altered seeds, code named Y-1, to be grown outside of the US, but argued they were developed to maintain standard levels in their blending process.
These charges are part of the Justice Department's continuing probe into tobacco companies. "This is just the tip of the iceberg," said Rep. Marty Meehan (D-MA), who also noted, "Congress should have serious reservations about providing protections to tobacco companies that have either been indicted or plead guilty to criminal charges."
Washington Post 8/1/98.
Study Finds Smoke Hastens Hardening of Arteries
A study reported in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports that smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke hastens hardening of the arteries, a condition known as artherosclerosis. The study, led by George Howard of Winston-Salem, NC, shows that damage to the arteries is considered permanent even among former smokers, who were previously believed to be able to recover from smoking damage. The American Heart Association noted that the study was the first to link passive smoking with narrowing of the carotid arteries, which carry blood to the brain. Washington Post 14/1/98.
Tobacco Companies Did Target Kids
An article has been published in the Washington Post showing that RJReynolds Tobacco company targeted children. Part of this states:
"Our attached recommendation . . . To ensure increased and longer-term growth for Camel Filter, the brand must increase its share penetration among the 14-24 age group, which have a new set of more liberal values and which represent tomorrow's cigarette business. . . .
Presently, almost two-thirds of the Camel Filter business is among smokers over 35 years of age, more than twice that for Marlboro." RJR official J.W. Hind Memo: January 23, 1975
A 1986 memo noted how the US Joe Camel campaign would utilise "peer acceptance/influence" to "motivate the target audience to take up cigarettes."
The documents were released by Henry Waxman, an anti-tobacco parliamentarian. He handed over 81 documents to the Justice Department which is conducting a criminal investigation against the tobacco industry. Waxman noted that the documents "show that our worst fears about the tobacco companies were true: They were surveying the kids, targeting them and implementing a successful strategy to get them to smoke." Washington Post, 15/1/98
To view this article, see
Texas Poised To Settle With Tobacco Industry
The state of Texas and the tobacco industry have tentatively reached an agreement in which tobacco companies will pay $14.5 billion to settle the state's lawsuit over smoking- related Medicaid costs. An expected $1 billion will be paid up front, with the remainder being paid out over the next 25 years. In addition, the industry will fund a multi-million- dollar campaign to prevent underage smoking. Other provisions governing the agreement include a ban on tobacco billboards and vending machines in youth-accessible areas; the elimination of tobacco advertising in sporting arenas, and on buses and trains; and public health provisions similar to those included in the tobacco settlements negotiated by Florida and Mississippi.
Private lawyers representing the state in its lawsuit could stand to receive almost $2.2 billion, representing the 15 percent in costs the lawyers had negotiated when taking on the case. Texas Attorney General Dan Morales is expected to announce the settlement today. Washington Post, 1/16/98
Tobacco Settlement Tipped To Pass Congress
A survey of 100 top congressional aides conducted by the Frederick Schneiders Research firm found that 58 percent found it very likely or somewhat likely that "a global tobacco settlement will pass Congress in 1998," while only 11% considered the prospect "very unlikely." Nearly 70% of the aides surveyed said it was very likely or somewhat likely that plaintiff lawyers' share of settlement funds will be cut significantly in any tobacco legislation. Almost 85% of top congressional aides said it was "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that if Congress passes comprehensive tobacco legislation, higher taxes will be imposed at the state and federal level. Wall Street Journal, 16/1/98.
Clinton Urges Republicans To Pass Comprehensive Tobacco Legislation
President Bill Clinton responded yesterday to the release of new internal RJR documents by calling on Congress to act on tobacco legislation. "[The documents] show more than ever why it is absolutely imperative that Congress take action now to get tobacco companies out of the business of marketing cigarettes to children . . . . I am confident that every member of Congress without regard to party who reviews these documents will resolve to make 1998 the year that we actually pass comprehensive legislation to protect our children and the public health."
Congressional Republicans, in turn, criticised Clinton for not proposing specific legislation of his own. "Calling for action is not enough," said Rep. Thomas Bliley (R-VA). Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) complained that Clinton was not providing enough initiative on tobacco legislation, yet is already accounting for funds emerging from tobacco-related legislation in his 1999 budget plan. "He's got to put his fingerprints on it, and he's got to lead. Now he's spending the money," Lott said. Wall Street Journal, 16/1/98.