The Non Smokers' Movement of Australia  
Protecting the rights of the Non-smoking majority from tobacco smoke
and from the tobacco industry's propaganda.

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Non Smokers' Update

Issue 48, May - July 2004

The case of courageous bar-worker, Steven Kane, came to a disgraceful ending in the NSW Chief Industrial Magistrate's Court in Sydney on 24 June 2004. Instead of WorkCover sticking to their guns and demanding that the Moama Bowling Club put an end to the cigarette smoke pollution constituting a "known health risk" they caved in to political direction and withdrew their order for the club to comply with the existing Occupational Health Laws in NSW. WorkCover bureaucrats quietly withdrew their "Order to provide a safe Workplace" and the club smugly agreed "not to appeal against the Order". This cosy little arrangement is clearly a shameful dereliction of duty by WorkCover staff as well as a monumental betrayal of the workers they are being paid to protect. Someone should be sacked over this and we will certainly be pursuing the matter. A writ of Mandamus should be taken out against WorkCover to force them to do their duty, which is simply to uphold the law, not turn a blind eye it.

Smokefree Coalition Protest
Smokefree Coalition Members Protest Outside Parliament House

Readers may remember that this club was smokefree for three years to the great satisfaction of the bar staff and other hospitality workers. However because of a perceived drop in revenue blamed on smokers not using their poker machines, rather than the alternate explanation of bad club management, they reintroduced smoking and told the workers to just put up with it or leave. Barman Steven Kane had the courage to stand up to them and insisted on wearing a gas mask during his work behind the bar (see Update No. 43 May 03) as the only way he could protect his health. Of course they sacked him for this and he started a very winnable action for wrongful dismissal. Because the pending court case would undoubtedly prove to the world at large that all these smoky clubs and pubs were in breach of Occupational Health Laws, the guilty club industry put a lot of money on the table for Steven to drop his case and enter into a secrecy agreement whereby he would not talk to anyone about how much he was paid to go away and stop embarrassing them by pointing to his unhealthy workplace.

Travesty of Industrial Justice
Can anyone recall a more blatant case of bribery to suppress a known breach of occupational health Laws? WorkCover are so hidebound that they would rather pretend they don't know why the complainant dropped his case than to do their statutory duty and proceed with a prosecution of the club. Of course, since Steven Kane is no longer complaining to them, WorkCover, took the soft option and dropped their order on the club to provide a safe and healthy workplace. This can only be described as a travesty of industrial justice where the government inspectors join forces with the guilty employers and together they betray the workers they are being paid to protect. The 24 June 2004 is a date that should go down in infamy in Trade Union history for its betrayal of all hospitality workers in NSW and in effect, the whole of Australia.

Sylvia Hale, NSW Green MLC
Green MLC Sylvia Hale supported by Mr Ciggy

The Minister John Della Bosca is all the more guilty of betraying the workers because he is a product of the union movement and came from the grass roots of the Labor movement. With traitors like that representing them in Parliament what hope have the workers got of ever receiving industrial justice?

Political Interference with WorkCover
There is little doubt that the instruction to withdraw the compliance order came all the way down from the top of government. Both Premier Bob Carr and the Minister for Industrial Relations, John Della Bosca, did not want this case to go to court because they would be shown up as having turned a blind eye to the plight of the hospitality workers for as long as they have been in power. Furthermore, it would have undercut their preferred option to "go slow" with the introduction of smokefree pubs and clubs because they are still in fear and trembling of the backlash from the liquor and gambling industry which is mounting a fierce anti-government campaign because of the new poker machine taxes.

No wonder John Della Bosca is spending time under observation in hospital these days because of the stress of maintaining the lie that the NSW Occupational Health Laws have not been breached in this particular case, let alone the thousands of others cases which should be in court. Maintaining such a lie while pretending to be the workers watchdog must be very harmful to anyone's health. This may seem a hash comment but why should we be the slightest bit concerned about the health of an incompetent Minister who does not give a damn about the health and welfare of thousands of hospitality workers whose fate are in his hands. He could give them safe workplaces tomorrow but he chooses not to do so for purely party political reasons.

Good luck to Steven Kane
Good luck to Steven Kane who deserves this sudden boost to his bank account because he put up a pretty good fight over a long period. He has earned all the compensation he can get. It is now up to the rest of us to do our bit and not let this matter rest until some heads roll in both WorkCover and Macquarie Street. We should ensure Steven's fight was not in vain by demanding the government speed up the introduction of smokefree pubs and clubs.

We staged one more protest in Macquarie Street Sydney on 1 June 2004 just about the time we expected the State Parliament to be considering the report and recommendations from the Joint Working Party studying licensed venues. It is the fourth time we have done this in the last twelve months and so I think the MP's have got the message. With several speakers on the loud hailers we were able to educate many passers-by on the failures of our government to act to protect the health of workers and patrons alike. You would wonder how the politicians can keep listening to themselves being so correctly accused of giving themselves a smokefree workplace while denying it to those in the hospitality industry. The logic is so clear to all that there is no debate from the public. They just express amazement that it is taking so much time and effort to win clean healthy conditions for workers in our hotels and clubs. We are also keeping the pressure on by handing out leaflets to the bar workers in the hope of stirring more Steven Kanes into action.

This is the message in hundreds of leaflets which ASH and NSMA are now handing out to bar workers in hotels and clubs around Sydney. The leaflet informs them of their legal right to a safe, smokfree workplace under the provisions of the Occupational Health & Safety Act 2000. We urge them to stop "putting up with it" and to complain both to WorkCover and to us so that action can be taken against their employers. A LEAFLET IS ENCLOSED - MEMBERS ARE URGED TO HAND IT TO A WORKER IN YOUR LOCAL PUB OR CLUB.

The lazy cigarette litterers have only themselves to blame for the decisions by some Sydney Councils to impose bans on smoking on the beaches under their control. One would like to think it resulted from a desire to give other beach patrons the fresh air they are looking for, and which they are entitled to expect when they seek healthy outdoor exercise in these otherwise pristine environments. But no - it really resulted from the strong and widespread undercurrent of resentment at the physical degradation of these beautiful white sandy beaches by millions of cigarette butts discarded without a second thought by the self-indulgent nicotine addicts.

Alt Tag Goes here
Manly Councillor Natalie Stevens Quits in Support

Manly Council, under the strong leadership of ex-MP Dr Peter Macdonald, decided that it was time to make a stand on the issue and decreed that from June 2004 the world famous Manly Beach would become a smokefree zone. The decision was widely applauded by 90% of the public as they focused on the news that up to 2 million non-biodegradable butts polluted the sand and had little hope of being removed by conventional beach cleaning machinery. Some of the most telling comments came from young mothers who said they were tired of having to retrieve cigarette butts out of the mouths of toddlers who could not avoid picking them up as they played in the sand.

Manly Leads - Waverley & Pittwater Follow
The wide favourable support from the public encouraged Waverley Council to follow Manly's lead. Just one week later they banned smoking on three beaches in their area. Currently Pittwater Council has called for a report on the cost and other implications before they too ban it on other northern Sydney beaches. Our Secretary lives in the Pittwater area and has been corresponding with the Council over several years about their responsibility to protect the public from the hazards of passive smoking particularly around childrens playgrounds. This was no doubt a factor in their quick response. The speed at which the idea is spreading just proves how fed-up the public are with copping the dirt and degradation from this filthy habit, quite apart from the ETS argument.

Beach bans spread to Queensland and Victoria The strong justification for cleaning up our beaches has quickly spread from NSW to other states Noosa council, on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, is investigating the possibility of banning smoking on its beaches. Council's works and community services committee discussed the issue and decided to see what options are available. Mayor Bob Abbott says council will not be rushing into a ban, because there are a number of logistical issues to contend with, such as policing any ban. "Obviously there is some resistance because of the inability that we may find to police the issue and the effect it may or may not have as regards to health," he said. "So what we're going to do is have a close look at what options are available to us about education and culture changes and indeed what are the sorts of things we need to do to create those things in regard to smoking on beaches."

Dr Peter Macdonald
Congratulations to Manly Mayor Dr Peter Macdonald

Meanwhile the Mayor of Melbourne, has said they will look at making St Kilda Beach smokefree primarily to end the litter problem. Of course they are finding it easier to bring in bans once the idea is shown to have wide public support.

Clubs NSW led by David Costello are still fighting with their best delaying tactics by promoting the idea that clubs could provide separate sealed "smoking rooms" to avoid total bans in clubs and hotels. They previously promoted that wonderful innovation of red lines on the carpets at 1.5 metres out from the bar where the smoke would know not to cross the line. This latest proposal is just as ridiculous and impractical. It also shows that they are intent on not honouring the gentleman's agreement with the government that all hotels and clubs with more than one bar would go totally smokefree from 1 July 2004.

The Hillside Tavern Ultra-lounge in Castle Hill announced in June that their newly renovated bar would be totally smokefree. This is the first multi- bar hotel to make a PR announcement that it is honouring the agreement with the NSW Government to have one smokefree bar after 1 july 04.

Members should keep pressure on any clubs and hotels where there appears to be more than one bar area. Approach the management and ask why the second one is not smokefree as agreed with the government's negotiating task force last year. We are sure that such venues will be well patronised and hotel owners should not be apprehensive about future total bans on smoking. Member should send in any information gained about such venues.

World famous expert on passive smoking damage, Professor James Repace visited Sydney in June 2004. He appeared on many TV programs to warn that passive smoking was even more dangerous than early research had shown. ASH and the National Heart Foundation issued a joint media release pointing to this latest passive smoking study that includes exposure from public places including pubs and clubs.. Professor Repace said that applying the statistics of this newest research to our Australian conditions he estimated that 70 hospitality workers in our pubs and clubs will suffer serious health consequences every year including death.

Prof James Repace
Prof. James Repace warns about Passive Smoking

The study, published in the online version of the British Medical Journal, says non-smokers exposed to other people's smoke have a 50 to 60 % increased risk of heart disease, compared with those who live and work in a smokefree environment. Previous research had estimated this risk at only 25-30% higher. Most studies of passive smoking have examined the risks of living with someone who smokes. But these "partner studies" have failed to take account of the fact that, in addition to the time they spend at home, non- smokers are also exposed to secondhand smoke - particularly in pubs and clubs. The authors of the new study, from St George's Hospital Medical School in South London, say that measuring the levels of cotinine in the blood, a by-product of nicotine, is a more accurate way of assessing exposure to passive smoking from all these sources.

Large Study
Their study of 4,729 men from 18 British towns found higher cotinine levels were linked with at least a 50% increased heart disease risk over 20 years of measurement. The research also suggested that three out of four non-smokers had an increased risk of heart disease because of exposure to passive smoking from all sources. Maurice Swanson of the National Heart Foundation of Australia: said "This study ups the ante on the push for smokefree licensed premises in Australia. It confirms the recent research showing there are many more deaths and illnesses arising from smoky workplaces than we had thought.

We urge all governments to put worker and public health ahead of gaming revenue considerations and legislate quickly for immediate total indoor smoke bans in pubs, clubs and gaming venues. We also call on the Australian Hotels Association and other groups opposing immediate bans, to end their decade of opposition in the interests of the health of their employees and patrons."

Owen Graham and Treyza Putri
Vice President Owen Graham and student Treyza Putri keep the new office rolling smoothly.

Our man in Adelaide, Steve Patroni has welcomed the South Australian legislation introduced into Parliament on World No Tobacco Day, 31 May 2004. Steve advises the following time frame for the phasing in of total bans on smoking in public venus including even the high rollers room at the casino:-

Immediately the Bill is passed.
Bans in all enclosed workplaces and public areas including shopping centres. Toy cigarettes to be banned. Employers liable for any sales to children by employees.

By 31 October 2004
Bans within one metre of all bars in licensed venues. One bar in multi bar venues must be non- smoking. Single bars must have 50% of floor area non-smoking. 25% of gaming floor areas to be non- smoking. Current exemptions for smoke-free dining will end. Tougher restrictions on displays and advertising.

By March 2005.
Tobacco displays to be out of public view. Each tobacco outlet to have only one point of sale. Vending machines restricted to gaming rooms.

By October 2005
50% of gaming floor to be non-smoking.

By October 2007
Smoking will be banned in all enclosed public areas with no exceptions including a ban on the high rollers room at the Adelaide casino.

Keep up the pressure down there Steve. We hope some of the time frame can be shortened but at least it is good to see commitment to the end game of total bans even if we have to wait a little longer. These times also will have an impact on other states, hopefully they will outdo each other with bids for faster action. However we won't hold our breath on that one. As the Adelaide Advertiser editorial said, "Denying smokers the right to puff in a pub is better than forcing non-smokers to inhale passively while enjoying a drink". It is really so fair and logical - why has it taken forever for governments to hear our voice?

The scales of justice are quickly tipping in favour of smokefree workplace legislation. Seven entire states-California, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island, Delaware, Massachusetts - and hundreds of cities/towns have adopted comprehensive clean indoor laws entitling workers to a safe, healthy, smokefree workplace.

This week, Columbus (Ohio) and Lincoln (New England) joined the growing list. In a packed council chambers, the Columbus City Council voted 5-1 to eliminate tobacco smoke pollution from indoor public places and workplaces, including bars, restaurants, bowling alleys and bingo parlours. The Lincoln City Council voted 4-3 in favour of similar legislation. "Miracles do happen," said the Lincoln Mayor who has been a strong supporter of clean indoor air campaigns.

Some states like California, have been years ahead of Australia in banning smoking in places of public assembly, like bingo halls, bars and even beaches. Strangely, they have been behind Australia with regard to "workplaces" (with the notable exception of bars) but at last they are getting on with it. It is great to see more workers finally being protected from the poisons in tobacco smoke but there is a very long way to go in the rest of the world.

The Tweed Heads Hospital has become the first hospital in the NSW Northern Rivers Health region to become completely smokefree. From 30 June 2004 smokers have to go outside the hospital boundary and on to the council footpath to smoke. Of course they will probably join a long list of other hospitals like the major regional hospital at Westmead in Sydney where they have put up hundreds of signs banning smoking around entrances and walkways but smokers in their wheelchairs just puff away right in front of them. There is no real enforcement because the humanitarian instincts take over and staff feel incapable of making these human tragedies even more miserable. The whole thing should be a salutary message to the rest us never to give up on our quest to eliminate tobacco from the face of the earth.

The sad news that Jim Bacon died on 20 June 2004 from his inoperable lung cancer only four months after being diagnosed had a dramatic impact on Australian smokers as they witnessed a great outpouring of sympathy for his family during this widely publicised local tragedy.

Jim Bacon was considered by all to be a straight shooter who said what he believed regardless of the cost. He did a great service to his fellow Australian smokers by telling them on National television - "I have been an idiot by continuing to smoke for over thirty years even though I have been warned of the health risk". His blunt warning did not fall on deaf ears and there has been a big rise in phone calls from people wanting to quit smoking following his death. The Tasmanian Branch of the Australian Quit campaign has seen a 500% increase in calls, and the Victorian Quit Campaign has also seen a significant increase in calls on the mainland.

Jim Bacon
Tasmanian Premier Jim Bacon has died from Lung Cancer

Compare this to the mumbling half-hearted admissions by liberal Member of Parliament, John Fahey, after he had one lung removed due to lung cancer. It seems he did not want to upset his liberal mates like Nick Greiner, then local Chairman of British American Tobacco, by coming out with a full blooded denouncement of the industry and the Australian victims it was creating including himself.

TV Campaigns illustrated by real life stories seem to be effective for those who need that extra push to stop smoking. One is reminded of the dramatic TV appeal made by famous Hollywood actor, Yul Brunner, - "Whatever you do - don't smoke". He arranged for these "commercials" to be aired after his death as an appeal from the grave. It had a big effect for a short time also, but it caused only a minor blip in tobacco sales as the mighty cigarette marketers, spent many more millions than Yul did to convince the youth of the world to keep on smoking. Sadly, we know that Jim Bacon will largely have appealed in vain because all governments including the one he led are too slow to accept their responsibilities and to break their own addiction to the tobacco golden goose. Faced with reducing their budget deficits or reducing the tobacco death toll the governments of all persuasions go for the money every time.

Alcohol and tobacco kill nine times more Australians than illicit substances. In a major review of the scientific evidence for drug harm, the National Drug Research Institute found that tobacco is the biggest cause of death and disease, followed by alcohol, then illicit drugs including heroin and amphetamines. In direct contrast to these impacts they found that the Government is spending only $400 million to combat illicit drugs, even less at $70 million for cigarettes and just a pittance at $4 million fighting the alcohol problem. These figures show the failure of government policies because it is cigarettes and alcohol that are responsible for 96% of drug related deaths. Surely they should get 96% of the funding if the government was really serious about reducing the impact of these dangerous drugs. Unfortunately the cigarette and alcohol lobbies are very powerful and they donate a lot of money to political parties.

Labor & Liberal Equally Weak on Tobacco The Federal Labor party has now refused to accept donations from tobacco or alcohol sources. However the Federal Liberal party is still happy to accept sponsorship of its annual conferences by a tobacco company and John Howard will probably go into retirement mumbling his catch cry - "If it is a legal product I don't have any problems with accepting their money". This is no doubt due to the continuing influence of tobacco lobbyists like Nick Greiner (no longer chairman of BAT but still pro- tobacco) and his old boy network. In spite of the enlightened Federal Labor attitude NSW Labor Government is really dragging its feet now over smoking bans in pubs and clubs so neither of the major parties is a clear winner in the anti tobacco stakes.

Alcohol & tobacco Lobbies Intertwined
Dr Alex Wodak, Director of Australian Drug Law Reform, went to air on the John Laws national radio program to condemn the government's confusion over spending priorities. He said the industry retailers are very powerful and until recently the alcohol and tobacco industry were intertwined in their government lobbying efforts. It is also complicated by the fact the Commonwealth collects the revenue from these drugs but the States do the spending. This creates vertical fiscal imbalance. It is bad in principal for one tier of Government to raise the revenue while the other tier does the spending and provides the services. He said there is still no recognition of a role for the Health Department to have input into prevention factors such as setting the price of these drugs.

Margaret Hogge and husband Richard are enjoying a long-planned retirement 3 months holiday in England and Ireland. By postcard she reports her delight at being able to listen to the great music in Ireland's now smokefree pubs. She says the staff are still very cautious about talking it up but the smokers don't seem to be too concerned and are accepting the inevitable. Margaret will be back on the 19 August to give us more details

John Laws made the very valid point that it suits Prime Minister John Howard, and Treasurer Peter Costello to have a messy arrangement because it makes them less responsible and less accountable. The NT Government produced a modest tax on alcohol and this was put towards prevention and treatment and this resulted in reduction of alcohol problems by 30-40%. However the Federal Government soon scrapped this program and the problems came straight back again.

Dr Wodak said Federal Politicians are too far removed from the real lives of people affected by drug related issues. He referred to a recent report in the Sydney Morning Herald, where the High Court threw out a case from the lower court saying licensed premises were not responsible for patrons drinking to excess. On the very next page there was an article saying how our police resources are insufficient and are largely spent on alcohol related crimes.

In June 2004 the Federal Government announced its long awaited decision on tougher, more graphic health warnings on cigarette packets. It was a major disappointment to all sections of the health lobby and AMA President, Dr Bill Glasson, said the Australian Government should have gone for 'world's best', not just 'one of the world's best', with very graphic anti-smoking warnings. The Government has announced only a 30/90 warning configuration [30 per cent front of pack, 90 per cent back of pack] - against health industry advice for a 50/90, or at least a 50/50 configuration.

"The biggest impact for an anti-smoking message is on the front of the pack," Dr Glasson said. "You don't look at the back of a person's head when you ask them out for a date. "This is a huge missed opportunity by the Government to put Australia ahead of the world in the war against smoking. "To make things worse, they have given the tobacco companies another 18 months to stockpile cigarettes with less graphic warnings. "That is a cop-out. "It is also 18 months during which more kids can take up smoking because the warnings aren't strong enough."

Dr Glasson said the argument that tobacco companies would need 18 months to purchase dedicated new equipment is rubbish. "The tobacco companies can turn out Grand Prix and other special promotional packs at the drop of a hat. "There is no reason why they can't produce stronger graphic warning packs in the same time frame. "Smoking is killing too many Australians every year. It is making too many Australians chronically and terminally ill. It is still tempting young Australians to take up the killer habit. "As a community we must do everything we can to minimise the harm to human health from smoking and passive smoking. "The Government should have done more on this occasion. Instead, they have caved in to a compromise option put forward by the tobacco companies."

The NSMA congratulates Dr Glasson and the AMA for their very valid tough talking on this issue.

Last NSMA meeting in the Trades Hall
The last NSMA meeting in the historic Trades Hall building
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, NSMA PO Box K860, Haymarket NSW 1240.

    The Non-Smokers' Movement of Australia Inc, Box K860, Haymarket NSW 1240.  
This page was last updated on 18th August, 2004.
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