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

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Clean Air Update

Issue 1, July 1994


Information on the Clarion

The Clean Air Clarion has been sadly in arrears of late-getting worse in fact, due to the lack of Peter in the office and I have left work, which makes production more difficult. It is simply too much work! My apologies.

On the other hand, information is needed in a more timely fashion than the Clarion was providing, (although many things change so slowly that they actually stay current for years).

The Clarion tried to be comprehensive and to educate people as to where history was going.. It resulted in a cadre of people who were far more aware than they had been, but now with professionals writing newsletters, and an activist voice needed more than ever, it would seem that it is better to make a virtue of necessity and produce an information leaflet that is more up to date and allows more input from members. After some discussion it was decided to get the bi-monthly ACOSH newsletter, and add an action and opinion sheet to it- hence this current format. The ACOSH publication, 'Smoking and Health' gives a broad overview of tobacco, and the same condensed news format the Clarion used.

So members will now get information more frequently, and hopefully more reliably, but in less detail. Each Update will ask for action and paint a more overtly opinionated picture.

I ask for a response and comments. We will have a letters section. Please let me know if this is acceptable. Please keep active- the war is nowhere near won.

Dr Arthur Chesterfield-Evans

ASH Reborn

Ann Jones, former assistant to the Independent MP for Manly, Dr Peter Macdonald is the new executive director of ASH, Action on Smoking and Health.

She had helped Dr Peter Macdonald draft his bill for smoke-free indoor air bill and lobbied for it, as yet unsuccessfully, with both the major parties in NSW. She is well respected around the NSW parliament.

Her background is as a researcher and in grass roots politics as she lobbied against beach pollution through Manly Council and was associated with Dr Peter Macdonald in this, helping him get into the Council, then helping him get into NSW parliament. When working on the tobacco issue for him, she was so impressed by the need for this legislation that she approached Elaine Henry of the Cancer Council herself to help get ASH reborn. Through interminable committees, this has at last happened, and she took up the post on 27th June.

ASH was abolished in July last year. Many of us could not understand this extraordinary decision. Stephen Woodward, its ex-director stated that its work was done and seemed to believe it. Its function had been scaled down from 3 people to one person part-time, so it often stopped functioning when Stephen Woodward, its executive director, was away.

One cannot help wondering if the tobacco companies thought that the fact that they had sued him was why he quit. They lost, but naturally he was inconvenienced, as was the NSW Cancer Council and National Heart Foundation who had funded ASH. Certainly the tobacco companies could not have believed their luck when, the health groups got rid of the only group whose stated function was to lobby. Fortunately NSMA members wrote in large numbers to the Australian Cancer Society and other groups and can take some credit for the change of heart.

But ASH is still poorly resourced. It is significant that while the NSW Cancer Council has given $2 million to a single cancer researcher over 5 years (i.e. $400,000 a year) the budget for ASH from them is $50,000 for one year. As tobacco causes 35% of all cancer and 25% of all heart disease it is only reasonable that the proportion of money spent on this is similar. Not to mention that prevention is more important than cureSimilarly, the Medical Colleges see their job as training doctors. . Is the problem simply that the medical establishment has control of the purse strings? Surely the implementation of health policies at a political level is just as important. Why is it always the activists who do the work?

Where Are We in the War?

There is still a huge amount to be done. From an advertising point of view, the continuation of exemptions to football, motor racing etc. is appalling, and will be worse when satellite TV from the USA or cable takes off. Tobacco taxes are low- still only 61% (a weighted average between states), whereas Britain is 77%, France 76% and Denmark 85%. The key reason why most people support the Non-Smokers' Movement. is the desire for Smoke-Free air in public places. This remains in the area of self regulation (i.e. Regulation of the self, by the self, for the self). Governments still have not grasped the nettle to give us smoke-free air legislation.

Unfortunately some health groups are smugly talking of huge progress. Progress has been concentrated in the upper socio-economic groups and has been far more in men than in women. Over the last 25 years Australia's rate of fall in tobacco consumption has been less than 1% a year, and less than half of New Zealand's. Things have speeded up a bit lately, but its really not good enough.

Action Point 1

Write to the NSW Cancer Council and congratulate them on restarting ASH, but point out that tobacco causes 35% of all cancer and the political fight needs appropriate resources. The address is: Elaine Henry, CEO NSW Cancer Council, PO Box 572, Kings Cross NSW 2011

Action in the A.C.T.

You may have missed it but in the ACT, the Parliament had a bill to make all restaurants Smoke-Free. The tobacco industry and the Australian Hotels Association fought it tooth and nail. The legislation was referred to a committee, which delivered what the tobacco industry has been fighting for lately, which is air made pure not by smoking bans but according to an Australian Standard relating to air conditioning- the 'Technofix'. Making air quality controlled by a Standard naturally means that it is a scientific nightmare to get evidence for a prosecution as the WA Health Dept found in the Burswood casino case, so effectively the law will be unenforceable. The bill was fought for by Health Minister, Wayne Berry, but he lost the portfolio, due to apparently unrelated problems, and the bill finished up in the Committee.

The new Health Minister, Terry Connolly has put out a public document, more or less rejecting the Committee's findings and saying that it is clear that a ban is better, and the Australian Standard was not designed to define tobacco smoke levels. But this is a public document and the AHA will be trying hard to knock it off. They have been very successful so far, so I ask you to write to Terry Connolly, ACT Health Minister, and urge him to help the whole of Australia by setting a strong precedent for smoke-free indoor air in entertainment venues.

AHA Smoke-Free Policy a Fraud

The much trumpeted policy of the Australian Hotels Association to set up smoke-free areas in the restaurants of hotels, and to stop its employees smoking at work is really an attempt to lessen its smoking related legal liabilities, and to pretend to the willing politicians that there is 'self regulation' so legislation is not needed. Their actions in the recent ACT legislative battle speaks louder than this PR hype, yet the media was depressingly naive in reporting it, as if it was some great breakthrough. Keep writing to the papers and ringing up talk back radio!

Action Point 2

Write to ACT Health Minister, Terry Connolly, asking him to bring in strong smoke-free indoor air legislation based on smoking bans to stop the pollution at source, not merely to put owners to huge expense putting in expensive air conditioning for the benefit the tobacco industry, and detriment of our health. You might use the story below, and ask for a copy of his discussion paper, writing a short personal submission. Address:- GPO Box 1020 Canberra 2601

New US Indoor Air Standard?

NIOSH (the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) in the USA has put out a draft air quality standard. This suggests smoking bans in indoor air unless there is a separately ventilated area, which is to be at negative pressure relative to the rest of the building. So it assumes there is air conditioning and does not go for silly 'magic line' solutions. It is not accepted yet, and there will be a big fight, but at least the good suggestions are there. When you write letters asking for legislation, mention this standard.

Rothmans Foundation to Close

The Rothmans Foundation, donor to sports for many years is said to be going to close. Articles appeared in the press saying how terrible it was that this money will be lost to sport. But what did the Rothmans Sports Foundation do? And why was it there? The answer is contained in a memo found in a Rothmans garbage bin. It was the minutes of a management meeting held in November 1970. The second page of this says "Discussing smoking and health, Mr Watson advised that we can expect more severe attacks on the industry in the near future. In Canada and the U.S.A. advertising restrictions are pending and in the U.K. there is no cigarette advertising other than in the press. We can expect similar restrictions here within the next few years. This is the reason for the existence of the Rothmans National Sports Foundation and our sponsorships which are being developed in anticipation of restrictive advertising in Australia". So much for ideas of charity.

The Foundation also trained sportsmen to be TV commentators and PR men when their sporting careers were coming to an end. This meant that he industry helped sports people to capitalise on their day of fame for much longer. Naturally they were grateful, and helped to get exposure for the tobacco companies. Is there a world record for how often you can say a sponsors name in one sentence? The sponsorship must have been successful beyond their wildest dreams. Asked for in 1962, a cigarette ad ban on TV was delayed until 1976 Then it had a sponsorship loophole till 1992. And then it had exemptions till 1996. And now Mr Kennett and others want more exemptions.

The Western Australian ban on cigarette advertising was defeated because of the sports lobby in 1983, and only when the Victorian Tobacco Act managed to buy out sponsored sports in 1987 did progress start to be made. Now as sports sponsorship starts to be actually restricted in a meaningful way, Rothmans, with tame journalists bleating all the way, is getting out of sponsorship. But they must be pleased with how long they delayed government action. It is 24 years since that memo.

Action Point 3

Write to Federal Health Minister Carmen Lawrence and ask that she stop any exemptions for tobacco sponsorship.

Bishop Shows Ignorance of Public Health

The new Shadow Minister of Health, Bronwyn Bishop started her portfolio with a series of disastrous errors in statements about public health. The most prominent of these was her support for tobacco advertising, the old 'legal to sell, legal to advertise' nonsense that even the advertising industry itself gave up years ago. She was roundly criticised and retreated into saying that she supported Coalition policy. This seemed to get her off the hook, but probably should not have. The Coalition policy is against tobacco advertising, but still seems to think that sponsorship exemptions are OK. This is less than reassuring. It may be worth writing to Alexander Downer, the Opposition leader and urging him to clearly state that tobacco sponsorship is unacceptable.

Whether it is worth writing to Bishop is another question, but she claims that she had a lot of support for her stand, so it may be worth trying to counteract this no doubt orchestrated campaign. It is a worry that 'economic rationalism' seems to concentrate on short-term and easily countable things in its attempts to be 'rational'. Bishop's efforts to simply speak out as if the disciplines of epidemiology, public health and risk management did not exist is a worry that goes beyond tobacco.

Democrat Inquiry to be Welcomed

The Parliamentary Inquiry into the tobacco industry in Australia, which was proposed by Democrat Health spokesman, Senator Meg Lees, and endorsed by both the major parties is to be welcomed. Everyone has seen the effects that the US House of Representative inquiry has had on the public perception of the tobacco industry.. The spectacle of the Chairmen of the big corporations standing up like a liars chorus saying that they believed tobacco was not addictive was quite nauseating, but at least what we complain of got a good public airing. We must hope that the Australian inquiry gets similar evidence, as the Industry Commission Inquiry into the Tobacco Industry which is almost ready to report had such narrow terms of reference that it was willing to hear the health evidence but reluctant to make much use of it. Consider giving evidence yourself, when it is advertised!

Action Point 4

Have an input to the next Update! Our Address is: Box K860, Haymarket NSW 1240.


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