The Non Smokers' Movement of Australia

Clean Air Update

Issue 61, September 2012

Your Rights

  • Everybody has the right to breathe clean air, free from the poisons in tobacco smoke.

  • If you can smell tobacco smoke, then the poisons are going into your lungs and your family's lungs and DOING HARM.

  • There is no safe level of tobacco smoke.

  • Smokers' rights stop at their lips.

Calling for Smokefree Prisons, Nationwide

With NEW ZEALAND prisons advising good results after one year of smokefree prisons, we call on all Corrective Service authorities to declare all prisons totally smokefree indoors, with smoking limited to Designated Outdoor Spaces

There is as yet no resolution to the case for compensation for the widow and family of a non-smoking prison officer who died aged 45 from lung cancer. He never smoked.

Also, our member (a Corrective Services Officer who needs to protect himself from the poisons in secondhand tobacco smoke by wearing a full-face mask) also continues to demand his basic rights. And then there are the inmates who are forced to live with smoke from fellow inmates, who have the highest smoking rates in the country.

We have contacted Tasmania's Minister for Corrective Services, with no positive response.

non-smoker in a smoking workplace

We continue to call on NSW Corrective Services to include us in the six-month smokefree Lithgow-based trial.

We continue to remind Governments and Work Safety authorities of their obligations regarding inmates' and workers' rights to safe conditions in prisons.

There are ALTERNATIVE NICOTINE PRODUCTS available for inmates who may be addicted. The use of those products will not harm the user and will certainly be of no harm to innocent bystanders.


Thank you again, members and supporters, for your financial and moral support.

This last year has seen some exciting developments, especially with Plain Packaging (but wait, there's more) and with large smokefree events, and some disappointments at the glacial rate of change in some areas, usually due to interference from Big Tobacco and their power-alcohol-gambling-dependent cronies.

At the Annual General Meeting for ASH(Action on Smoking and Health) Canberra, we met Terri Henderson, who had a letter published recently in the media, celebrating the fact that her 18year old daughter had never been forced to suck in poisonous tobacco smoke in indoor public places during her lifetime. Much of the credit for that goes to groups like Canberra ASH and, around the country, to groups like ours, to people who fought together and individually for their basic right to work in smokefree places. The Guest Speaker for that meeting was the head of Public Housing in ACT. We all presented strong arguments for declaring Public Housing smokefree - not least that this is housing of last resort, that tenants have no other place to go - see article inside.

NSMA founder, Brian McBride, turned 80 in May, with a delightful celebration for family and friends. Dr Arthur Chesterfield-Evans (thoracic surgeon, and former Pres., NSMA) recounted Brian's story of guts and determination in fighting for everybody's basic right to breathe clean, smokefree air. Brian's family is justifiably very proud of both him and Angela.

There's still a long way to go - with over 3 million smokers in Australia - let's stay strong and safe and determined to reduce that number as quickly as possible, push to reduce smoking rates, as well as the impact of the poisons that tobacco smoke spread all over us and our families, over vulnerable children, disabled and frail-aged people, and newcomers to this country.

Not only that, let's encourage our Governments to make Big Tobacco pay for the damage already done. Don't just "keep the bastards honest" - sue the pants off them. Let's get on with a National Class Action (A message to Nicola Roxon and Tanya Plibersek, prompted by Senator John Hill South Australia.)

Margaret Hogge, Editor and President, NSMA Inc.

NSMA Committee 2012

NSMA Committee 2012

Cigarette Butt Return and Tobacco Purchase Scheme

Something to get up Big Tobacco's Nose

We are aware and aghast at the huge impact of cigarette butts tossed by smokers and support many schemes to reduce the environmental and aesthetic impact.

With some favourable reaction from the public towards a renewed drinks container deposit and recycling scheme, we think it is time to consider this concept with regard to tobacco products, with the exception that smokers would not get money back on returning butts but would only be allowed to make further purchases if they returned an equivalent number of butts, in special containers provided by the tobacco industry. Retailers/the tobacco industry would need to then provide appropriate disposal - they are part of the selling chain and should accept that disposal of hazardous waste from their sales is their responsibility.

One practical method would be that, with each packet sold, a small sealable container with say twenty small holes (rather like an egg-holder in the refrigerator) would be provided. That filled container inside the empty packet would need to be provided at point of next purchase.

Plain packaging of tobacco products is already addressing the problem of advertising and allure of branding - a butt return and disposal (of a hazardous product) scheme could help Australia reduce its hazardous environmental waste. A bonus could be that a percentage of smokers would simply quit, not caring to fit in with such an "outlandish" scheme. Yes, we are aware that there are "considerate smokers" who dispose of butts in bins provided but they need to understand that non-smokers (the majority of the population) should not have to pay for disposal of the waste from a poisonous product which continues to kill more Australians than any other single product.

This concept was divulged to us on World No Tobacco Day, 31 May 2012, by an enthusiastic member of the public. There are several other variations being discussed, and we realise that this may not be the ultimate Butts Return and Tobacco Purchase Scheme, but, to date, it has been greeted with delight by non-smokers, especially those who cannot tolerate "tossers".

NSMA Inc. has included this concept, under Environmental Issue, in its June 2012 Submission to the National Tobacco Strategy 2012-2018.

Tobacco Cartoon

Smokefree Multi-Unit Housing - protect families from Smoke Seepage and Smoke Drift assault from smoking neighbours.

We remind everybody that families in public housing have the right to safe shelter, including the right to breathe safe, clean air. Clean water, clean air.

They can expect clean water to come from their taps for drinking, cooking and cleaning. They also have every right to breathe clean air, free from the poisons in tobacco smoke. People who live in Public Housing are in the most difficult and needy circumstances and at the end of their housing options - they have NOWHERE ELSE TO GO.

Peter Lavac, the Sydney barrister, who helped launch ASH (Action on Smoking and Health)'s Smokefree Multi-Unit Housing Campaign last December, was in the fortunate position, when under assault from chain-smoking neighbours, of being able to move to another property - he was diagnosed with lung cancer and has been very fortunate to survive, but would possibly not have survived if he had been forced to stay on at public housing. Public Housing should be declared smokefree, with smokers being directed to move away from the property to smoke, or, in the case of physically disabled tenants, to a space where their smoke does not affect others. When told of a smoking homeless person whose request for housing can be granted, what should Public Housing authorities do? Offer the property, with the proviso that nobody smokes there, and assist the new tenant with quitting, meanwhile offering nicotine replacement products which cause no harm to the user nor to innocent neighbours.

NSMA Inc. was represented at the Oceania Tobacco Control Conference in October 2011, when Pres., Margaret Hogge gave a presentation about Smoke Seepage in Multi-Unit Housing. An abbreviated version is shown in Issue#87 of Around the House, the newsletter of SHELTER NSW.

These conferences are a great opportunity to learn and to contribute to discussion about reducing the impact of tobacco on everybody's lives, here in Australia and amongst our Pacific neighbours.

Thanks very much to the Team at Cancer Council and ASH for their production, Guide to Smokefree Multi-Unit Housing, launched in December 2011 by ASH Chairman A/Prof. Matthew Peters, CEO Anne Jones, and Media Officer Stafford Sanders, as well as by NSMA member Peter Lavac.

Peter Lavac

Peter Lavac

More support for smokefree multi-unit housing emerged in the results of the Online Open Forum about Strata Living, where smoking issues topped the list for discussion.

We continue to call for all new Strata to be declared totally smokefree, with only an opt-in clause to allow smoking if it can be proved that smoking would not affect anybody else in the property.

Why you shouldn't smoke while pregnant -you will subject your baby to all or some of the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal as soon as it is born.

Every cigarette is doing you and your baby harm.

It seems unconscionable that some people would deliberately smoke in order to have an easier birth with a smaller baby, but such stories do exist.

It is possible for mothers to quit or vastly reduce their smoking during pregnancy so that their newborn babies will not have to suffer from a range of nicotine-withdrawal symptoms.

[Child abuse is any form of physical or emotional mistreatment or mismanagement of a child, by acts or omissions that cause actual or potential harm to the child's health, well-being or development, or expose the child to unnecessary risk or suffering.]

According to a quitting website, withdrawal symptoms for adult smokers begin "as soon as four hours after the last cigarette, generally peak in intensity at three to five days, and disappear after two weeks" Physical symptoms: Tingling in the hands and feet, sweating, intestinal disorders (cramps, nausea), headache, cold symptoms.

And then there are emotional and mental symptoms of anxiety, irritability and depression. Who would deliberately put a tiny newborn infant through such abuse in an effort to avoid some pain or discomfort for a few hours of one's life?

We urge all women to quit smoking well before pregnancy or to cut back dramatically, to give their baby a healthy start, and to avoid this awful form of child abuse.

Is Tobacco Advertising Really Banned ???

So our governments think they've banned tobacco advertising - well, think again - smokers themselves, sitting at outdoor dining venues, walking the streets, standing huddled in corners, partying - all are advertising for Big Tobacco - we continue to call for smokefree crowded events, smokefree CBD's (Central Business Districts) with a limited number of designated outdoor smoking spaces, and smokefree outdoor dining. And we insist that children prevented from entering any place where smoking is allowed.

Tobacco slogan outside a Chinese School

Slogan promoting tobacco in China

Child smoking in Indonesia

Child smoking in Indonesia

Tobacco display opposite a school in Sydney

Open tobacco display opposite a school in Sydney

Children are not allowed to witness gambling - WHY SHOULD THEY SEE AND SMELL SMOKING?

Let's de-normalise smoking in children's eyes - there's nothing normal about ingesting poisons and spreading those poisons amongst innocent bystanders.

Smoke Free Events Are Now The Norm

Congratulations to all organisers of large-scale events which are declared smokefree.

Perth Show, Adelaide Show, Adelaide Zoo, Taronga Zoo(NSW), Sydney Show, Luna Park Children's Area (Sydney), and many others. Some have Designated Smoking Zones - governments should encourage more by sponsor and/or discount schemes.

Smoking area at the Royal Easter Show

Smoking area at the Royal Easter Show

Luna Park

Luna Park

Smoke Free Home Units

More support for smokefree multi-unit housing emerged in the results of the Online Open Forum about Strata Living, where smoking issues topped the list for discussion.

We continue to call for all new Strata to be declared totally smokefree, with only an opt-in clause to allow smoking if it can be proved that smoking would not affect anybody else in the property.

Secondhand Tobacco Smoke now recognised as a Hazard, nationally.

Regarding our previous Newsletter discussion of Tobacco Smoke not being mentioned as a Hazard, the national Model Work Health and Safety Regulations and Codes of Practice has been amended, thanks to depositions from ASH and NSMA, to now include secondhand tobacco smoke.

Please consider making a bequest to NSMA Inc. in your will, so that we can continue the fight for clean air, free from the poisons in tobacco smoke.

WHAT DO WE WANT? Smokefree Outdoor/Alfresco Dining in NSW

We fought hard and long to bring forward Smokefree Outdoor Dining in NSW from its projected 2015 introduction. And the fight is still not lost, despite a valiant effort by Greens' Dr. John Kaye and others in the Upper House.

Our members had collected a huge percentage of the 11,200 signatures on Cancer Council's petition to Parliament, but the 2015 date had already been negotiated in a non-legally binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in October 2010 prior to the last elections (March2011). A donation from gambling-dependent ClubsNSW to the Libs/Nats political parties was made very soon after the MOU was signed, and the Minister for “Health” glibly declared when announcing the new law, that the delay was necessary for “educative purposes".

Beachside Club, NSW

A smoking area with the best ocean view

The most galling aspect of this sorry affair is that the Libs/Nats would have won Government anyway - they certainly didn't need the thirty pieces of silver, but that paltry amount paid to the political parties (not to the government) will mean that NSW families and hospitality workers will continue to be subjected to the poisons in tobacco smoke at outdoor dining venues for another three years.

Smokers demanding rights

Smokers demanding their rights to make other people sick

Children will continue, for another three years to regard smoking as a normal part of recreational life. (Queensland has had smokefree dining both indoors and outdoors since 2006). And Big Tobacco, through its cronies in the gambling industry, will continue to kill.

Our next step: NSMA will inform all restaurants, cafes, pubs and clubs and Local Councils that, according to NSW law, they are not obliged to wait until 2015 to go completely smokefree, that a huge majority of people doesn't smoke and hates being subjected to the poisons and smell of smoke when dining, that there is:



HOWEVER all businesses do have an obligation to protect their workers and patrons from the well-known poisons in secondhand smoke, indoors or outdoors.

Just because something is allowed does NOT MEAN THAT IT IS SAFE.

AT LAST - A Tobacco-Free Generation. Rock On, Tassie

Congratulations to Tasmania's Government for being the first Australian State to consider strong protection from tobacco for the next generation, by introducing legislation prohibiting sales of tobacco to anybody born in the year 2000.

Prohibition or Protection?

Our Governments have known for 60 years that tobacco-smoking kills. They've known for more than 20 years that second-hand tobacco smoke kills. Tobacco kills more Australians than any other single product. And costs us billions more than any tax revenue.

And yet our governments/political parties continue to accept donations from Big Tobacco and its mafia (the risibly named hospitality industry) and do their bidding.

As the former Australia Hotels Association boss once said, following a query about a particularly smelly monetary exchange regarding the definition of smoke-free areas, “Democracy isn't cheap”.

Tobacco is an unsafe product, not only to its users but also to everybody in the vicinity of users. If you can smell tobacco smoke it's going into your lungs and doing harm. The nicotine in tobacco is highly addictive, to such an extent that many smokers find it difficult to quit even when they know it will possibly, no probably, cause them a slow and painful illness and death.

Here's the rub - on any supermarket shelf or at any pharmacy and even free through some programs, a smoker can find an alternative source of nicotine (patches, gums etc.) which will neither kill them nor cause harm to everyone in their vicinity.

We need to do everything possible (seatbelts, helmets, tobacco bans) to PROTECT our children from known harm, as well as getting rid of harmful, unsafe products.

Awkward Moments

The Smoking Problem - Some advice from an Aussie book of "etiquette" from long ago.

Remember: if you are seated with other people in a restaurant do not smoke while they are eating.

It is permissible to smoke between courses, but wait until they have finished.

Always ask permission before lighting up.

Even if you don't smoke but your date does, have a packet of cigarettes and a lighter or matches, so that you can offer her a cigarette. In my experience, this rarely happens but it is appreciated when it does.

A man should always light a woman's cigarette first. If he is using matches, he should hold the lighted match long enough for the fumes to disappear.

Your wife or girlfriend has priority when it comes to cigarette lighting. If a man is the host he lights either the guest of honour's or an older woman's cigarette first.

When smoking at the table, be careful not to blow smoke all over the table, food and your companions.

When you are a guest at dinner, wait for your hostess to suggest smoking. Never ask if you may do so.

There is no smoking at official functions until after the toast to the Queen.

Always use an ashtray for your cigarette. Do not use potted palms, saucers, plates, glasses or your hostess's carpets.

Do not go about with a cigarette dangling from you lips. If you don't have a free hand, don't light up!

Girls: Never smoke on the street or in public transport.

Now aren't you glad to know how to smoke in polite society!