LAW TO HELP FIGHT FOR SMOKE-FREE HOUSING
One tenant of the Canberra ACT Housing Authority is so fed up with the
government's refusal to acknowledge her rights to be allocated
accommodation where she will not be subjected to enforced tobacco smoke
pollution from her neighbours, that she has accused them of unlawful
discrimination against her.
To protect her privacy we will refer to her as Ms A. She is one NSMA
member who is determined to fight this issue to the bitter end although
her struggle so far over several years has been a bit like hitting your
head against a brick wall. Ms A. even went on Channel Nine's ACA with her
dispute against her neighbour, although her case was not well presented.
As often happens, the journalist decided it was more fun to send up the
non-smoking party as crazy to think you can complain about
what your neighbour does in their own home. What they ignore is that
smoking is never confined to their own air space and always invades their
neighbour's property. NSMA President, Brian McBride, has decided to give
Ms A. full support for the remainder of her battle and he represented her
in a call-over of her case in Canberra
2003. It is important that Non Smoker's Rights be upheld and NSMA will
continue to campaign vigorously to get public housing segregated into
smoking and non smoking blocks as a policy objective.
(See Update 42)
Problem Getting Worse
The logic of tenants complaining about the smell and pollution of tobacco
smoke drifting in from their neighbours smoking on adjacent balconies or
patios is indisputable. The problem has become worse as more progress has
been made on educating smokers to smoke outside so as not to inflict the
dangers of passive smoking on their own children. Hence they move out on
to the balcony and inflict it on their neighbour's family.
NSMA President, Brian McBride, discusses the case with Ms A. at
Canberra's Anti Discrimination Tribunal Hearing
appalled at the injustice of one case where a young mother brought her
first baby home from
hospital only to realise that she could never leave the bedroom window
open for fresh air because of the almost continuous pollution from chain
smokers next door.
Doctor's Request Ignored
Ms A.'s case commenced in November 2000 when she presented doctor's
reports stating that she was allergic to cigarette smoke and had strong
reactions to it. The doctors specifically asked that this be considered
when she was allocated accommodation.
course the bureaucrats in the Housing Authority said, we don't have any
policy about the hazards of cigarette smoke affecting our accommodation,
either as it affects you or any other applicant. They then proceeded to
allocate her a one bedroom Older Person's Unit (OPU) right next door to
an existing smoker's unit. They told her "Take it or leave it and, if you
leave it, you will go to the bottom of the list and wait four years for
another offer which probably won't be any different to this one."
Naturally Ms A. took the offer under protest and then immediately asked
for a transfer based on further medical evidence of health damage now
suffered as a result of her neighbour's night and day smoking. The
request for a transfer was refused and she then made a complaint to the
Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) about such a defective decision
making process which failed to consider all the relevant evidence
Attempt to Head Off Investigation
Because the Housing Authority did not want to have their administrative
processes reviewed in detail by the AAT they offered Ms A. a deal too
good to resist. They said, "you drop your case and we will
reinstate you for a priority transfer
to another unit". As soon as Ms A. dropped her case they offered her
another unit in a location where there were problems with lots of wood
burning fires causing similar allergic reactions. When she declined these
she was again told she would go to the bottom of the list.
Appeal to Anti Discrimination Tribunal
Ms A. considered that her severe allergies to smoke and certain other
irritants did constitute "an impairment" under the 1991 Discrimination
Legislation so she lodged a complaint of discrimination against the
housing authority. At the same time she wrote to various political
parties, including the Minister for Housing,. Bill Woods. She complained
that there was no policy of recognising the problems created by a refusal
to dedicate at least some on the many public housing complexes to be
Housing Authority Goes For Strikeout
The recent proceedings resulted in the ACT Housing Authority moving for
the case to be struck out on legal technicalities. This means they will
rely on parts of the Discrimination Act 1991 that gives additional
protection to government agencies to the effect that, if they observe all
their own regulations, they can't be found guilty of discrimination.
In effect, if you can show you did not breach a policy on a certain
matter because you don't have any policy on that matter you may have a
successful defence. The case continues at the end of August so stay
OTHER SUCCESSFUL DISCRIMINATION ACTIONS
There have been some very notable wins using the Anti discrimination Laws
on behalf of Non-smokers. One of the first cases fostered and supported
by NSMA was Roy Bishop vs The Department of Administrative Affairs back
in 1981. Roy was discriminated against because he objected to smoke
pollution in his workplace because of his highly sensitive allergic
response. The management refused to ban smoking and responded by moving
him out of the main office into a basement to work by himself. With the
steady support and encouragement of NSMA, Roy had the fortitude to fight
on through two battles in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal until he
was vindicated by a magnificent victory that effectively spelt the end of
smoking in all Commonwealth Public Service workplaces. A very notable
result that the NSMA is proud to be associated with.
Another very significant action was brought by the late Sue Meeuwissen
against the Hilton Hotel in Sydney.
Sue alleged that Hilton hotels discriminated against her by not
accommodating her basic need of clean air in their nightclub premises
because she suffered the debilitating and eventually fatal disease of
cystic fibrosis. In effect, their entertainment facilities was not made
accessible to people with such a disability. With the assistance of
Sydney barrister, Neil Francey, she went on to win a landmark victory in
this case and was awarded compensation. However the flow on effect which
should have meant the provision of totally smokefree nightclubs for
everyone did not happen overnight, but has been accelerated by the
success of her brave actions.
Ken Bishop Forced Smokefree Shopping Malls
Another great campaigner for the right to shop in smokefree conditions
without having to suffer the consequences of allergic reactions is Ken
Bishop (no relation to Roy), now of Queensland. The actions he has
started or threatened to start have resulted in smokefree shopping
centres everywhere he has travelled since he got serious about the
problem in 1994.
1. Nowra - smoke-free after intervention by NSW Workcover.
2. Gympie - smoke-free after negotiation.
3. Maryborough- smoke-free after
anti-discrimination claim and out of court settlement.
4.Darwin - smoke
free after anti-discrimination complaint and out of court settlement.
5. Maryborough - smoke free after complaint
to public health environmental health officer.
Queensland Health recently advised Ken that 'Section 26R of the Tobacco
and Other Smoking Products Act 1998 prohibits smoking in an enclosed
place. The Act defines "enclosed" as having a ceiling or roof and, except
for doors and passageways, is completely or substantially enclosed,
whether permanently or temporarily.' The act applies to enclosed car
parks in shopping centres.
United We Stand
NSMA is now contacting all people who have complained to us about the
problem of smoke invasion by neighbours. We will try to set up a meeting
to form an action group to lobby our politicians harder about the need to
change tenancy laws. One simple amendment, which should be achievable to
improve the private sector housing, is to allow corporate bodies to make
by-laws declaring their units to be totally smokefree both inside and
throughout the grounds. The position now is that all common areas have to
be smokefree because they represent a "workplace" for cleaners, tradesmen
etc. However it has been ruled by the NSW Dept. of Fair Trading that
Corporate bodies do not have power to regulate smoking by owners or
tenants within their own homes. While this may seem reasonable at first
sight, it has to be considered in the context that smoking within a unit
which allows the pollution to escape and impact upon a neighbour should
be a matter which can be regulated by the majority of owners in that
block in the same way that noise pollution, or nuisance pets, or other
unreasonable behaviour is controlled.
VOLUNTARY RESTRICTIONS IN NSW CLUBS & PUBS FROM JULY 2003
The last Update 43 gave a detailed account of NSMA's role in displaying
banners at NSW Parliament House demanding smoke-free Clubs & Pubs in
2003. Instead of real smokefree workplaces, we now have the pathetic
compromise agreed to by NSW Labor Government's Taskforce and the
pro-tobacco forces led by prosperous hotel owner, John Thorpe. This means
more red lines on more carpets and more "no smoking on the tiled area"
signs in more clubs and pubs. The media gave great prominence to the
announcement as if some great improvement had been achieved for the
hospitality workers. Admittedly, it is
moving in the right direction but it is far too slow. Their timetable
will be July 04 before the voluntary moves are supported by legislation
and probably 2006 before workers are close to being protected from the
hazards of passive smoking in their workplaces.
AHA Stirs Up Fear
John Thorpe, President of Australian Hotels Association (AHA), has been
on Sydney radio talking down the plan to ban smoking in pubs and clubs.
He says if you want to ban it overnight young people will rebel against
it. He says it needs to be introduced slowly, which is what they have
"voluntarily started" to do by banning smoking in certain areas. He says,
"you cannot impose your will on other people, we live in a democracy"! He
warns that there will be civil disobedience.
It is amazing that people like John Thorpe will talk glibly about the
democratic rights of smokers and yet seem oblivious to any argument that
non smokers and his own hotel employees have an even stronger democratic
right to clean healthy air.
What he is trying to do, of course, is to scare the Government from
proceeding even with the snails pace program they have outlined.
Simon Chapman, Professor of Public Health, University
of Sydney, has also been on radio giving the opposite message. He has
just returned from a trip to Ireland and he spoke about the recent
banning of smoking in Irish pubs. He says, unlike Australia, Irish
publicans seem to hold their employees in higher regard, which is what it
comes down to. Simon says the propaganda coming out of the Australian
Hotels Association is that this would be bad for business. On the
contrary, he says, all of the studies, which have been published from all
over the world, have found there is evidence that trade improves rather
than goes down when smoking is banned.
California and New York Bars Smokefree
California has had smokefree bars for years and from July 2003 New York
bars will follow suit. On July 24, New York State will join New York City
as a smokefree workplace jurisdiction. All workplaces, including
restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and pubs, must post highly visible NO
SMOKING signs and remove all ashtrays. Violations can be reported to the
local New York Department of Health, and penalties will be severe. If it
can be achieved in USA this year, why not in Australia? The answer is
greater respect for the health of all workers over there, and
the greater power of vested interests here.
WA Pushes For Faster Govt. Action
Two of Western Australia's leading health advocacy groups have criticised
the State Government delays in announcing the outcome of a review of the
regulations on smoking in pubs, bars, clubs and the Burswood Casino. The
Cancer Foundation of Western Australia and the National Heart Foundation
have begun a public campaign to force the government to act to make all
indoor venues smokefree. A review of the Health (Smoking in Enclosed
Public Places) Regulations 1999 has taken place and recommendations on
changes to the regulations were to be tabled in Parliament in January
this year, but now six months later there is still no report in sight.
"Tobacco smoke is the single largest preventable cause of cancer, and
with passive smoking a proven cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, there
can be no good reason why regulations to protect workers and patrons from
environmental tobacco smoke should be held up any longer" said Cancer
Foundation Council member and public health physician, Professor Charles
Watson. "We can't understand why the process has stalled. The review has
been done and yet we are still waiting for
Victorian Govt. Slow To Act
The Victorian Labor Government has shown itself to be bowing to alcohol
and gambling interests by announcing that it will not move to extend
existing smoking bans into hotels and clubs. This is in spite of new
research by the Cancer Council which shows about two thirds of Victorians
now support extending smoke-free legislation to include bars and
nightclubs. The Executive Director of Quit Victoria, Todd Harper, says
the research also shows about 80% of the population supports the current
bans on smoking in gambling venues. He says the community is ready to
embrace smoking bans in bars and nightclubs and it's now up to the
Government to impose tougher anti-smoking legislation.
Tasmania NT and Qld Bans in Doorways
Legislation recently proclaimed in Tasmania prohibits smoking within
three metres of an entrance or exit to a non-domestic building. It also
prohibits smoking within ten metres of air ventilation intakes. The
Northern Territory and Queensland governments have also banned smoking in
doorways to ensure safe access to buildings.
Qld Budget Allocates Less Than 1% On Tobacco
Leading community health groups have criticised the Queensland State
Government for failing to learn from this year's Dirty Ashtray Award.
Tobacco control funding in this year's budget again fell well short of
interstate and international benchmarks. Earlier this year, the
Commonwealth Grants Commission reported that Queensland received $673
million in tobacco revenue in 2001/02, which is 300 times greater than
its expenditure on anti-smoking measures. Of course all government
ministers will tell you, with a straight face, that they are very serious
about the problem of reducing the damage done by tobacco.
GREAT DECISION IN McCABE CASE
The Victorian State Government has finally come out with criticism of the
Court of Appeal's handling of the Rolah McCabe case and will join her
family in seeking leave to appeal to the High Court. Attorney-General Rob
Hulls said the Court of Appeal had examined whether lawyers had attempted
to pervert the course of justice in their advice on managing sensitive
tobacco company documents. But such a legal test set the bar "far too
high", he said. "We believe the high-jump bar should not be so high and
that a greater onus should be placed on lawyers in relation to
the retention of documents."
Rolah McCabe's daughter Roxanne Cowell fights on
against BAT appeal win
The NSW Attorney-General, Robert Debus, has sought urgent advice from the
state Solicitor-General on whether it could also intervene. Lawyers for
the McCabe family welcomed Victoria's move, but the Cancer Council, Quit
Victoria, the VicHealth Centre for Tobacco Control and Liberty Victoria,
while pleased with the intervention, continued to press for a judicial
Gulson Blows Whistle On BAT
Tobacco whistleblower, Frederick Gulson, whose allegations sparked the
Victorian decision, said the move was just, proper and fair. "To my mind,
the Minister's announcement is an endorsement of the rule of law," he
said. Mr Hulls sought advice from Solicitor-General Pamela Tate after The
Age newspaper published details of an affidavit by Mr Gulson, a former
company secretary and legal counsel of W.D. & H.O. Wills, now British
American Tobacco Australia Services (BAT). Mr Gulson said the company's
strategy was to get rid of sensitive documents under the guise of an
innocent housekeeping arrangement.
Ex Company Secretary Fred Gulson tells how BAT (Aust) destroyed sensitive
It involved getting "rid of everything that was damaging in a way that
would not rebound on the company or the BAT group as a whole". Rejecting
the calls for a judicial inquiry, Mr Hulls said
it could cross over issues to be raised in the High Court and risked
being in contempt of those proceedings. It is rare for State Governments
to intervene before the High Court in civil cases; such interventions are
usually in cases involving constitutional issues. The application for
leave to intervene will be heard on October 3, 2003.
Background On McCabe Case
In March last year, Mrs McCabe, dying of lung cancer, won a damages case
before Justice Geoffrey Eames in the Victorian Supreme Court after he
found that BAT and its lawyers, Clayton Utz, had subverted the document
discovery process. A jury awarded Mrs McCabe $700,000 damages. She was
the first Australian to successfully sue a tobacco company. BAT appealed
and in December last year the Court of Appeal found that Justice Eames
had erred in deciding the case on the destruction of documents issue, and
that evidence of wrongdoing by Clayton Utz had not been proved.
BAT were not satisfied to be paid back their $700,000, which has already
been done by the McCabe family, they wanted the family to pay their
million dollar legal costs which were also awarded to them. Hence Mrs
McCabe's children face selling their homes and going bankrupt
in order to pay off the tobacco company whose cigarettes killed their
mother! Can you imagine a greater travesty of justice brought on by the
greed and unethical behaviour of tobacco companies and their legal
Finally some good news for the family as the state governments say they
will intervene in the case. The sight of expensive lawyers going on TV
and glibly saying it was simply good practice to get rid of documents
before the case and what is more, everybody is able to do it, is
disgusting to the average fair-minded person. Let us hope that the
government's intervention will put an end to such shoddy practices and
bring some justice for tobacco plaintiffs at long last.
History was made on 21 May 2003 when the World Health Organisation (WHO)
agreed to a world first anti-tobacco treaty after four years of intensive
negotiations. WHO gave preliminary approval to the treaty, with minister
after minister, including Australia, proclaiming that it would save
untold millions of lives. The treaty will ban or restrict advertising,
introduce more prominent health warnings and control use of terms like
low-tar on cigarette packs. It will no doubt be
implemented very slowly in some quarters but at least it is a significant
start to protect the vulnerable emerging nations, which have already been
savaged to some degree by the greed and unethical behaviour of world
SmokeFree '03 coalition
The NSMA has been very pleased to be invited to join this Coalition as
reported in the last Update and we have recently participated in a joint
submission to the ACT on a discussion paper about proposed reform of the
Smoke-free Areas (Enclosed Public Places) Act 1994, ACT.Smoke Free '03 is
a coalition of health and trade union organisations sharing the sole aim
of making all Australian workplaces free of tobacco smoke.
Action on Smoking and Health Australia - Australian Council of Trade
Unions - Australian Council on Smoking and Health - The Cancer Council
Australia - Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers' (LHMW) Union -
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance - Musicians' Union of Australia -
National Heart Foundation of Australia - Non-Smokers' Movement of
SF'03 strongly supports the implementation of effective bans on smoking
in all enclosed workplaces as well as crowded outdoor workplaces.
We believe governments have a statutory responsibility to protect their
citizens from exposure to tobacco smoke pollution which is a proven
public health hazard.
SUBMISSION TO NEW ACT INQUIRY
Thanks to our hard working Secretary, Margaret Hogge the NSMA also put in
its own "no nonsense" submission direct to this Inquiry in addition to
being a signatory to the very detailed submission by the Coalition. These
submissions were in response to requests for comments on the proposed
review of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Anti Smoking
Margaret commenced by saying, "We begin our submission with the comment
that we deplore that so much time, money and effort has been expended on
this matter which is in fact about basic human rights. Everyone has a
basic right to clean, unpolluted air. The community and governments of
Australia have been aware of the dangers of environmental tobacco smoke
for decades and are still debating whether smoking should be banned in
The submission continued:
It is not the responsibility of community groups of volunteers to protect
the public's health. The ACT Government and other governments
have that responsibility. The government
is aware of the dangers of second-hand smoke and currently fails to
protect a large proportion of the public from those dangers. The
Non-Smokers' Movement of Australia assures them that there will be
further litigation unless environmental tobacco smoke is eliminated in
the very near future. The ACT government can lead the way in Australia by
imposing complete public indoor smoking bans by the end of 2003. For
every day of delay in legislation for universal bans, thousands of
workers and customers suffer the short and long-term effects of
environmental tobacco smoke.
A ban in ACT will almost certainly flow on very quickly to other states
and territories this government could potentially save thousands of lives
around Australia by setting an earlier rather than later date for
compliance. The public already considers these bans to be inevitable they
have already been informed and educated over the past decade about the
dangers of second-hand smoke they simply need to know that their elected
representatives are prepared to accept their responsibility to safeguard
the public's health both in protecting them from second-hand smoke and in
cutting smoking rates. We recommend that the ACT
Government moves to end all exemptions to smoking bans in all indoor
areas at the earliest opportunity.
We now await the outcome of the inquiry with great interest.
Fires Caused By Cigarettes
On 29 May 2003 the SBS program "Insight" screened a hard hitting
documentary showing that one third of all fire-deaths were in fires
caused by cigarettes. We all know the tragedy of people smoking in bed
who never get to wake up again. It is bad enough when it is inflicted on
the smokers themselves but it is appalling when innocent children die as
well. The program interviewed the mother of the little boy shown here and
joined the chorus of experts who say the Government must legislate to
force the tobacco industry to make only "Fire safe Cigarettes".
They interviewed Ross Hodge, CEO of The Australian Fire Safety
Association, who with others, said the industry knew how to make
self-extinguishing cigarettes for at least the last thirty years but
refused to act. The general opinion is that the industry feels it would
not be popular with smokers and they would lose some customers by
quitting. The industry would rather lose a few in fatal fires rather than
lose a lot by offering fire safe cigarettes!
9 Year Old Chris Saker who died in a fire caused by cigarettes
Well, that's about what we expect from tobacco industry executives.
Extra $1.6 B Pokie Tax to Cure Hospital Woes.
If $1.6 B pokie tax will solve all hospital ills what will $8.0 B dollars
in tobacco tax do for them? NSW Premier Bob Carr is playing predictable
political games with the Club & Pub industry to sell his increased
machine taxes policy to them via blackmail from the public. Treasurer
Michael Egan says the entire $1.6B tax take will be removed from
consolidated treasury control and channelled directly into the hospitals
system to cure their well known shortfall in funding. Of course the
public will support this very desirable objective just the same as they
support motherhood and apple pie. This shows the govt to be the good guys
while the clubs and pubs will be the bad guys if they oppose such a
What NSMA finds objectionable is that all governments, both state and
federal, have refused over many years to consider treating the 8.0
Billion dollars of tobacco revenue in the same dedicated fashion. It
should be directly applied to the health consequences of smoking and also
to giving a gigantic boost to anti tobacco
campaign funding which would finally
put an end to the tobacco menace in Australia.
Of course such removal of the lovely tobacco revenue from the
consolidated treasury political pork barrel has always been too much for
the power holders to contemplate, so it is declared impossible. The
governments then continue on their merry ways every bit as addicted to
tobacco taxes as the smokers are to nicotine. History will be a very
harsh judge of the cynical and unethical politicians who pursue such
self-serving short-term policies over altruistic ones every time.
Challenge Answered re Health effects of passive smoking
In May 2003 a number of Australia's leading health groups have warned
that the results of a new study regarding the link between passive
smoking, heart disease and lung cancer should be received cautiously.
Professor Alan Coates, CEO of The Cancer Council Australia, said the
health risks of passive smoking had been well established by a
significant body of medical evidence. "There is a vast body of medical
evidence that has found that passive smoking is, without doubt, harmful
to health," Professor Coates said. "The only debate on this issue is the
extent to which passive smoking is harmful. "This study may cause
some people to doubt the relationship between passive smoking and lung
cancer and heart disease."
Footnote Says It All
This study was published in the British Medical Journal with a footnote
disclosing that it was funded by the "Centre for Indoor Air Research", an
organisation that received funding primarily from US tobacco companies.
The journal also carries an editorial that identifies a number of
problems in the study design, and highlights tobacco-specific carcinogens
that are readily identified in the urine sample of non-smokers married to
smokers. "We need to view the findings of this study with some
scepticism, given that it was refused funding through the normal peer
review process and subsequently funded by tobacco interests," Professor
Coates said. "Concerns about the study have also been raised by a number
of highly regarded experts in the US, where the study was conducted -
they include Julius Richmond, a former US Surgeon General". The American
Cancer Society has also criticised the study, saying it suffers from
flawed methodology and is neither reliable nor independent.
Another Big USA Payout
Elite Model Management, home to several
world super models, was ordered to
pay $5.27 million to Victoria Gallegos, 32, after a jury found that Elite
fired her for complaining about tobacco smoke in her workplace. Before
accepting a $100,000 a year job as Elite's sales director, Ms Gallegos
told Elite owners that should could not work around smoke due to her
asthma. They assured her that smoking would not be permitted. She
repeatedly complained about the smoke, but nothing was done. Some of her
co-workers teased her by leaving matches and lighters on her desk. She
was demoted, and then fired.
Gallegos, an asthmatic, testified that the smoke at work caused her
"frequent bouts of nausea," which left her "coughing up blood" and gave
her "difficulties sleeping at night." The $5.2 million award includes $2
million for pain and suffering and $2.6 million in punitive damages. The
sum was $600,000 more than Gallegos' lawyer had asked for, indicating
just how reprehensible the jury found Elite's behaviour.
Women's Magazines Still Promote Smoking
ASH Australia does a good job exposing the snide way that the industry
uses "product placement" by glamorous models to promote smoking. The
example shown on this page and others are on
Ashaust website shows blatant cigarette promotions on magazine
This is so disgraceful at a time when lung cancer in women
is overtaking breast
cancer as the biggest killer. It shows that some new approach like
licensing susceptible and ill informed youth is necessary to counter the
never ending selling to them by sex-appeal.
Proof Of Effect On Teens
Teenagers who watch movies with frequent smoking scenes are almost three
times more likely to take up the habit as those who don't, according to a
new study. The research, published online by The Lancet, also found that
the effect of exposure to smoking in movies was stronger among teenagers
with non-smoking parents. Previous studies have found a link between
teenage smoking and films, but this is the first study to track children
over time to determine whether they take up the habit. Researchers from
Dartmouth Medical School in the US surveyed more than 3500 adolescents
who had never smoked, and assessed their exposure to smoking in movies.
In a follow-up survey between one and two years later, 10 per cent of the
adolescents had started smoking.
2.71 Times More Likely
Among those who were the most exposed to movies depicting smoking, 17 per
cent took up the habit, compared with only 3 per cent of those who
viewed only a small number of movies with smoking scenes. After removing
those who attributed smoking to influences such as their parents and
advertising, those who watched the hard-smoking movies were 2.71 times
more likely to take up the habit. More than 52 per cent of the 10 to
14-year-olds started smoking after seeing it in movies, compared with 34
per cent of new smokers who started because of cigarette advertising.
How Do You Stop Them?
Another program on Channel Two in Sydney on 29 July raised that same old
question; "How do you stop teenagers taking it up"? George Negus conveyed
a pretty good anti smoking message on Channel Two's New Dimensions
program, but left this key question in the too-hard basket. He
interviewed a lot of young smokers about the age they started smoking and
it was so disgusting to hear the answers, 10, 14, 15 etc.,
Young Smokers tell George Negus on TV how they started smoking at 14 and
now find it hard to quit.
It is all too
easy and uncomplicated for them to experiment with a bit of a puff until
they finally get hooked. It's all a bit of harmless, youthful fun with no
effort required. So let's make it a big expensive effort with so many
complications and costs that the average teenager won't even go to the
Why Not Licence New Smokers?
The NSMA have posed this new approach to the problem
by requiring all new smokers
to be licensed. As we said in Update 38, in January 02, this could
operate just like the process for getting a driver's licence. The young
person is issued with a handbook of all relevant information on the
dangers and responsibilities which must be understood before they are let
loose on the rest of society.
They must be thoroughly tested on their knowledge and fitness to
undertake this new and dangerous venture. If examination shows they are
still ignorant of the facts or immature or physically unsuitable for the
endeavour the licence should be denied until such time as they do
The Greater Good
Any argument about civil liberties must be met with the argument that to
take on a lifetime of addiction to a known killer which will also cost
the rest of society dearly is justified by the greater common good. The
same logic applies to licensing drivers because their decisions and
actions will not just affect them, they will affect the rest of society.
They must pay an annual licence fee, which should be high initially but
scale 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. Such a scheme would be then be revenue neutral to the
government. In fact it would be cost neutral to the smoker because the
money would be paid as an annual fee instead of as a tax on each packet
of cigarettes. More importantly, it would ensure that smokers would
eventually meet the total cost of smoking damage and that it is not
subsidised in any way by the rest of the community.
Remove From Consolidated Revenue
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. If society is ready for radical experiments like "safe
injecting rooms" for hard drugs it must surely be ready for a really
common sense scheme of licensing new smokers.
LEAVE A BEQUEST TO NSMA IN YOUR WILL.
Please think about this to keep the good work going into the future.
Tax Money Goes Begging
ASH, and other members of the health lobby have strongly criticised the
last Federal Budget for missing a golden opportunity to use a $225m
tobacco tax windfall to increase funding on anti-smoking programs. Once
again, prevention missed out and the last budget offered little towards
stemming tobacco's annual $21B drain on the national economy. See details
New Campaign In Aust. Capital Territory
The ACT Cancer Council has just been awarded $300 000 to fund a new
prevention program to try and stop young people smoking. Joan Bartlett,
Executive Officer, ACT Cancer Council, says the project will be based on
a successful mass media campaign in Western Australia that directly
targeted Australian youths with a variety of mediums. Bartlett says the
campaign will hopefully be underway by the middle of 2004 and will be a
multi-pronged attack on both males and females.
Radio Kings Speak Up
Sydney radio seems to have been converted to a strong anti-smoking
position, which is a nice change from the bad old days when every
non-smoker was dismissed as a wowser and killjoy.
2GB's Philip Clark, says the story of young girls
smoking "is one of the great health tragedies of our time". Clark says it
took him three tries to give up smoking, but he never tried patches. He
says you have to vow never to smoke again.
2UE's Steve Price has been attacking the smokers who throw their
cigarette butts onto city pavements. He says cigarette litter is becoming a
huge issue on the streets in New York,
and it is also a major problem here.
He attacked Sydney City Council's inaction and complained that no
one was available to speak to him about the issue, which he says is
ridiculous. He asked listeners to nominate the worst spots in Sydney for
Finally, John Laws (2UE again) gave a sympathetic interview to a caller
who said he was dying with lung disease after many years smoking and he
urged young people to quit smoking. He said he had no trouble quitting
after he was diagnosed but he wishes he had never taken it up. The caller
went on to say - it is not much of a life,
living all day with an oxygen tank to keep him breathing.
Laws said this conversation should be played to anyone who thinks smoking
50 Years of Needless Death
Western Australia's Cancer Foundation has marked the 50-year anniversary
of the first major study to link smoking and lung cancer by calling on
Philip Morris, BATA and Imperial Tobacco to act responsibly towards their
customers. Over 820,000 Australians have died from smoking related causes
since Sir Richard Doll's landmark study was published in 1950, and since
then, hundreds of research papers have confirmed the dangers of smoking.
BRIAN McBRIDE TO RETIRE FROM NSMA IN NOVEMBER 2003.
After 26 years of continuous campaigning for the rights of non-smokers,
Brian has notified the Committee it is time for him to step down and take
a more relaxed view of the world. At age 71, his decision is largely
influenced by the loss of reading sight in one eye due to macular
fibrosis that makes a lot of computer work more of
a challenge for him. Retirement will also allow him to spend more time
with his wife, Angela and family of four children, and seven
grandchildren aged from 3 to 12. The Committee have decided to give him a
FAREWELL DINNER COMBINED WITH THE AGM ON WEDNESDAY 26 NOVEMBER. Details
are in the booking slip enclosed with this newsletter or ring/fax the
Rydalmere office on 02 9638-1171.
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.