|The Non Smokers' Movement of Australia
Protecting the rights of the Non-smoking majority from
and from the tobacco industry's propaganda.
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Issue 41, November 2002 - January 2003
A very successful dinner was held at the Furama Central Hotel on 6 November 2002 to mark the great achievement of 25 years continuous campaigning against the ravages of the tobacco industry in Australia. Founding President, Brian McBride, gave a brief talk on the origins of the Movement, which started with his one-man war against smoking on the bus service between his home in Sydney and the local railway station in 1977.
The guest speaker was Dr Arthur Chesterfield-Evans MLC, and former President of NSMA from 1988 to 1998, when he entered Parliament as State Leader of the Australian Democrats. He spoke passionately about his frustrations with the establishment not doing enough about the tobacco problem during the days when he was a surgeon seeing the tobacco carnage on a daily basis. He saw the need for a more aggressive approach to cut through the conservatism of the medical and political establishments.
Legal Actions Best
took on their employers to demand their legal right to unpolluted workplaces. It was the crucial backing of NSMA that encouraged Roy Bishop to fight his public service department in Canberra through not one but two major cases in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Firstly he won compensation for health damage resulting from tobacco pollution of his workspace. When he returned to work they isolated him in a basement away from other employees rather than ban the smoking in the general office. He then took them on again and won a case for discrimination so the end result was that he provided the big ammunition to allow the then well-disposed head of the Public Service Board, Dr Peter Willenski, to ban smoking entirely throughout the entire Commonwealth service.
Scholem Case in State Public Service
Thanks to Team
Origins of Movement
Neither side backed off and eventually stories on the dispute appeared in the local papers and the Sydney Sun newspaper. Then the Sydney TV Channel Nine picked up the story and asked to travel on the bus to film Brian's attempts to force the drivers to observe the smoking bans. After the program went to air a lot of people made contact and urged that more should be done about the problem of people flouting existing smoking laws. Two of these were Gayle Russel and Bill Snow who then worked with Brian to call a public meeting at Parramatta in October 1977 where the Non Smokers' Rights Movement was formed.
Meanwhile one particular nice looking young (Maltese) driver named Carlos was very friendly with the equally nice looking office girls who made up half of the bus passengers every morning. He was determined to impress them with his displays of bravado designed to send-up Brian as an old wowser and killjoy who could not be allowed to succeed with his push for smoking bans. Carlos used to get on the bus as a passenger and sit near Brian for the purpose of blowing smoke over him and making jokes with the girls as Brian tried to protest about it. Matters finally came to a head when Brian charged him with assaulting him with cigarette smoke and took him to court. Brian won his case in Parramatta Court in April 1978. This verdict was featured on the front page of the Daily Telegraph as something sensational. This additional wide publicity attracted many new members to join the Non Smokers' Rights Movement, which was now up and running.
The first Committee comprised Brian McBride as President and Gayle Russel as a hardworking secretary, plus six other committee members. Plans were formulated to conduct campaigns against smoking in all public areas starting with all forms of transport, trains, buses, coaches, taxis, planes etc. With limited resources the strategy was to concentrate on the winnable areas first. Then we started on buildings such as lifts and work areas as well as the big one, smoking in restaurants. The twenty-five years of newsletter publications that started as "The Clean Air Clarion" contain a very good history of our community based fight against the tobacco industry in Australia.
Contributions from Members
NSMA THREATENS ACTION RE CLUBS
We threatened to set up picket lines outside clubs and hotels to draw public attention to the problem during the coming NSW state election in March 2003. We will also hand out leaflets encouraging hospitality staff to put pressure on by initiating more legal actions against their employers.
Of course the big hold up is the Australian Hotels Association acting as a front for the likes of Nick Greiner and British American Tobacco. Their influence behind the scenes lobbying the politicians is disgusting and disgraceful. How someone like Della Bosca, ex head of the NSW Labor Council and previous leader of the union movement could stand by and see the workers sold out to big business interests is beyond belief.
The other bad news is the Labor Party win in the recent Victorian State Election. Premier Steve Bracks has made it clear that following the beating-up he took from big business after he supported smoke-free areas in gaming casinos that he is going to back right away from doing anything about smoking bans in hotels and clubs. The health Ministers meeting mouthed all the usual platitudes but the end result was no real progress. This is big business and politics at its worst in Australia.
WE SUPPORT PITTWATER COUNCIL SMOKING BANS
The council copied our letter of support to the Federated Municipal & Shire Council Employees" Union (FMSC) who were agitating against this new policy. Well, that started world war three and NSMA suddenly received an angry letter from Brian Harris, General Secretary of the FMSC union which read, in part as follows, quote: "Your letter appears to wander from the alleged views of your organisation to your own interests as a Pittwater ratepayer. It should be noted that Council is bandying your correspondence around in defence of its actions. The sentiments contained in your letter are out of step with the current public understanding and tolerance of smoking i.e., the right to indulge in their addiction, as it demands, just as people afflicted with religion have the right to break away from work to pray up to five times a day in a current case being pursued by the ASU. Everyone has rights and the Union would hope that your organisation or you personally would support Council offering an exit package to those poor souls addicted to the drug nicotine and convey this sentiment to the Council by way of correspondence." Unquote.
We advised both Pittwater Council and the Union in no uncertain terms that we did not support exit packages for those "poor souls addicted to nicotine". We said in reply, quote: "On the contrary, we believe that Council's offer to assist smokers to quit the habit is fair and reasonable and all that could be expected from ratepayers funds. This treats them like many other employees of corporations who have no legal obligation to pay for quit programs but do so as a gesture towards helping them beat their addiction and hence contribute to self-help occupational health measures. Both unions and employees should join forces with us in pursuing a total ban on public smoking to create a climate where the next generation of Australians will not be seduced into a lifetime of addiction resulting in the unnecessary problems now faced by both the Council and the Union. We wish both sides success in negotiations to secure a satisfactory solution to the present dispute." Unquote.
Action Point. Write to Mr Angus Gordon, General Manager, Pittwater Council, PO Box 882 Mona Vale NSW 1660, and show strong support for their total smoke-free policy. Also write to Mr Brian Harris, General Secretary, FMSC Union, 321 Pitt Street Sydney 2000, and state your objections to unions supporting smoking in the workplace.
CALIFORNIANS SHOW THE WAY
Dr Don Lyman, Chief of Californian Department of Health Services, showed the dramatic drop in lung cancer rates in California compared to other states because they were running really aggressive and hard hitting campaigns against public smoking. He said while there was a general 4% drop in lung cancer in other states across USA it was a 14.4% drop in California. This proves that you can get the results when you spend real money such as their $800 million on aggressive campaigns. To counter these inroads the tobacco industry stepped up its advertising and promotional expenditure to ten times this amount. However the people were not fooled and the health lobby is winning as these figures show. He showed a video of the latest anti tobacco TV ads such as the tobacco executives all swearing before the congressional inquiry "that they believe nicotine and cigarette smoking are not addictive". This is followed by a lady smoking through a hole in her neck and saying in a hoarse whisper, "how can they say that?" It was powerful stuff.
The great progress in California arose directly from what was called "Proposition 99" passed in 1988. This was a ballot initiative voted in by the majority of Californian voters requiring an additional 25 cents on each pack of cigarettes sold in that state to be collected and spent on anti tobacco campaigns. From the funds generated by this tax, 20% is earmarked for education in schools and the community. In recent years most of this has been channelled into a media campaign called the Tobacco Education Media Campaign (TEMC). This campaign has the main goal of reducing tobacco use by promoting the social norm of not accepting tobacco. This process of de-normalisation of the smoking habit has been extremely successful as measured by the number of households with children under 18 that do not allow smoking in the home. In California it is 49% compared to only 12.5% for the other states.
Dr Dileep Bal, Chief Cancer Control Branch Californian Department of Health, advised Australian politicians to stop fiddling around with the proposed bans in bars and, as the Nike ad says, "Just do it". He assures us that it was done in California with very little backlash and is now a non-issue. Everyone accepts it and it is regarded as very successful. Enforcement becomes self-regulating as smoking becomes more and more de-normalised. Over 80% of bar owners say they have no trouble with enforcement of the bans because smoking is seen as not the norm and the majority of non-smokers provide their own enforcement. Smokers have now become conditioned when they enter any premises to look around for signs of others smoking. If there are none they usually will not dare to light up because of the expected backlash from non-smokers. He estimates that California has spent $880 million to save $8.4 billion in health costs over the last eight years so the government is well satisfied that it is a cost effective program.
Australia Can Do It
Speaking of Politicians
Fortunately the Australian Democrats did not let it go unchallenged.
State leader, Dr Arthur Chesterfield-Evans, put out a hard-hitting press
"The Carr Government has an undischarged obligation to introduce smoke
free workplaces and prohibit smoking in poker machine venues. Star City
Casino will be affected by those two decisions, and British American
Tobacco has been lobbying the government to keep it a smoking venue. Bob
Carr is looking after Casino and BAT profits
before the health and finances of addicted
gamblers and employees in pubs and clubs.
Philip Morris Fined
Health authorities have observed that aggressive marketing by all three tobacco companies is on the rise in NSW at fashion events, rock concerts and in clubs. Let's hope this verdict might slow then down a bit. However you can be sure they will develop some other means to continue their deadly work. NSW Health Minister, Craig Knowles said penalties for tobacco companies that flaunt the law are to be reviewed as a result of this case.
Smokefree Fashion Maybe?
Landslide Victory for Smokefree Restaurants in Florida
Cancer Council Wants $13.5 Million
The NSW Health Minister, Craig Knowles, declined to say if the Government would adopt the proposals, but said: "There are some very engaging points for us to consider." The publicity campaign would aim to reduce the proportion of smokers by 1 per cent a year for 10 years, until only about 10 per cent of the population smoked. "It would transform the picture of smoking in this state," said Dr Penman, CEO of the Cancer Council.
FLATS AND UNITS CAMPAIGN
Well it is no wonder when you realise that the head of the ACT HREOC is Rosemary Follett who is a chain smoker and so addicted that she had a balcony added to her office so that she could still smoke in her public service office. It is time we drew more attention to the real "conflict-of-interest" which occurs when high-ranking smokers have to make decisions about the issue of smoking as it affects other people. Surely they should disqualify themselves from participating particularly when all their decisions seem to favour the smokers. We must do more about this.
We have received another strong complaint from a housing commission tenant in Sydney and we are keeping alive the idea of a class action on behalf of all such tenants against their common landlord, the Minister for Housing. Please send in any information you may have about people experiencing problems with smoking neighbours.
Smokefree in 03
Federal, state and territory ministers met on 8 November 2002 to consider the proposed changes to workplace conditions and prohibit smoking in all clubs, pubs and taverns. Federal Workplace Relations Minister, Tony Abbott, says it is the aim of the govt to ban smoking in all work areas. Up to 30,000 hospitality workers could benefit from this new campaign to ban smoking in pubs, clubs and casinos by 2003.
Business groups are urging state exclusions and exemptions on smoking, rather than a complete ban in the workplace. Unions and occupational health and safety groups will be calling for a complete ban because it would also bring hospitality industry workplaces into line with decade-old legislation requiring employers to provide a safe environment for employees. Peter Hendy from the Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry says the issue should be looked at "very rationally". A State Govt appointed task force is now looking at the issue so we will watch with great interest.
Casino Loses Revenue
Will They Never Learn?
Philip Morris To Go Smokefree!
Philip Morris has also offered staff a one off payment of almost $8000 in place of their entitlement to four cartons of cigarettes per month.: Todd Harper, Executive Director, QUIT Victoria says that if Philip Morris have gone Smoke-free that it should be good enough for all employees including pubs and clubs. There is no specific workplace smoke-free legislation but it follows automatically from occupational health laws.
LEAVE A BEQUEST TO NSMA IN YOUR WILL.
Juvenile Anti Smoking Bill Passed
We have all seen the disgraceful sights of school age kids smoking with impunity around railway stations and other areas. Cigarette companies market to this age group, because that is when lifelong smokers start, at around age 15. If you have not had a cigarette before you turn 18, you are unlikely to smoke. David has done a good job with this initiative and he continues to remind everyone that 140,000 Australians are hospitalised every year due to smoking-related illness.
James Bond now Smokes Cigars
Healthy buildings International (HBI)
We suspected that these people were just a front for the tobacco lobby, which is always active worldwide. Sure enough, it is now clear from documents downloaded from Philip Morris files that all our submissions to SAA were obtained by HBI and forwarded direct to Philip Morris in USA. Their manipulation delayed progress for a long time but thank goodness the Government finally decided to accept its proper responsibilities and went ahead with the Smoke-free Environment Act 2000 without waiting for SAA to give them an excuse to do it.
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.
|The Non-Smokers' Movement of Australia Inc, Box K860, Haymarket NSW 1240.
|This page was last updated on 4th January, 2003.
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