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from tobacco smoke
and from the tobacco industry's propaganda.
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Issue 10, January 1996
Senate Report Calls for Smoke-Free Air, Vending Machine Ban
The Report of the Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee into the 'Tobacco Industry and the Cost of Tobacco-Related Illness' was released on 15th December. It is encouraging in the recommendations it makes, though a bit disappointing in view of some of the more progressive recommendations that it did not make.
Recommendations included:- Smoke-free indoor air legislation, but with areas provided for smokers, Nicotine patches be on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule, and nicotine classified as a Schedule 7 poison, if the Health Ministers' Advisory Council approves. The Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act should be strengthened, point of sale advertising further restricted and 'giveaways' be banned. A National Health Promotion Foundation should be established. Additives should be assessed and a list provided to the Federal Government. Excise should be increased, removed from the CPI and levied on a per-stick basis.
Furtehr, national school education be developed and special programmes for ethic and aboriginal groups. Proof of age over 18 would be needed to purchase cigarettes and sellers would be fined and lose their licenses for selling to minors, with compliance checks to enforce this. The number of retailers should be reduced and vending machines banned.
These are progressive recommendations, but it is worth noting that all of them are taxpayer funded and nothing in the report criticises or targets the Industry itself.
There are a number of errors in the report which weaken it. Often, this is where the committee has accepted elements of tobacco company submissions. For example, section 2.6 states that 'the effect of the [Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act 1992] is to prevent advertising in films and videos'. It cites the WD and HO Wills submission as its source for this. But product placement in films and videos where the product or its use is written into the script is acknowledged as a major form of current advertising which is proving very well targeted at children. (Effectively the Industry is using limited definitions of advertising and the limited understanding of advertising by the Committee to enshrine a basic falsehood in the report. It is the same tactic as was used to say the 'sponsorship is not advertising' or that it was 'accidental or incidental' to prevent action for 17 years against tobacco sponsorship advertising. Strong submissions are needed to correct the draft report).
The Committee also commented that it did not receive substantial evidence that there was abuse of accidental or incidental advertising provisions, although it noted that there was evidence that of the 1990 Australian Grand Prix tobacco advertising was visible for 17%.
What the committee has failed to grasp is that it takes a lot or resources to observe and document all the abuses of the legislation, and that resources must be provided for this. It is not expected that road rules would be self-policing- why is this assumption continually made for the tobacco industry, which has been shown to have lied about the effect of its products. The Committee however felt that the 'accidental and incidental' advertising provisions of the Act should not be strengthened as they were a 'complex' issue. This was apparently based on the wishy-washy submission of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) who offered no evidence on the breeches of the 'accidental or incidental' provisions but are now recommended to monitor and enforce the provisions. The report noted that all 16 applications for Ministerial exemption of the Act have been approved and also that sports sponsorship on TV acts as tobacco advertising to children (Sections 2.26 and 2.30).
The committee therefore has recommended that exemptions should be phased out by the year 2000. It does not however give a mechanism for the phasing, so it looks like just a recipe for more exemptions.
As far as nicotine was concerned ACOSH a scaling down of nicotine levels in Australian cigarettes to reduce their addictiveness, particularly in view of the known ability of the Industry to reduce such levels. ACOSH also recommended that nicotine be scheduled as a poison so that its marketing could be regulated. Yet again the pathetic efforts of DHHS undermined these ideas as they said Australian nicotine levels were relatively low by world standards, and that there was danger of a 'prohibition' situation if nicotine were reclassified and so there should be no intervention.
The Report recommended that the method of measurement be checked as ventilation holes created by the industry has undermined the tar and nicotine testing methods.
ACOSH and Wills Tobacco recommended that excise be changed to a 'per-stick' basis, but DHHS and the other two tobacco companies did not agree.
The section on recruitment of children to smoking was relatively conservative, being influence by the US Reports which emphasised the magical 'peer pressure' which apparently comes from nowhere rather than from Industry marketing as the NSMA submission stressed. Smoking rates in both boys and girls had risen in both the 12-15 and 16-17 year old age groups between 1990 and 1993 and more in the younger groups. Rates are now 30% for 17 year olds, which is higher than the adult rate. Peter Jackson, Winfield and Longbeach were the most popular brands with children. Peter Jackson and Longbeach are Philip Morris brands and have been associated with 'premiums' (i.e. give-aways, which have increased in the US from $10 million to $300 million from 1975 to 1990) (section 3.71-2).
With regard to child access the Committee noted that there had been more prosecutions for sales to minors in WA than in all other states combined.
Generic packaging was advocated by a number of groups, but undermined by the conservative DHHS submission. The industry issued a veiled threat to sue for huge compensation if it were tried. The Committee again sat on the fence.
Aboriginal smoking was at 56% of the adult population, almost double the national average, as were deaths from tobacco caused illness. Much was made of the fact that aborigines chewed plants with nicotine in them, but these plants were seasonal and limited in distribution. Cancers of the mouth associated with prolonged chewing are not yet common, suggesting that heavy and prolonged tobacco use is a recent phenomenon created by the Industry and merely hyped with history to sentimentalise and legitimise it.
The report is very conservative in tone and mild in comparison to what it could have been, and seems to have been highly influenced by the conservative submission of the DHHS as well as the self-serving obfuscation of the Industry. It recommends lots of research on nicotine and tar levels, the basis of excise, duty-free allowances, the effect of additives and generic packaging which will keep researchers busy for years. It advocates many necessary measures for controlling the tobacco epidemic, but despite noting all the evidence that the tobacco industry knows how harmful its product is and the lies it has told about it, it makes no attempt to suggest any action against the industry directly, nor does it fund any action against it. In short all the action to be taken against tobacco is to be taxpayer funded, and the Industry has, as usual escaped either condemnation or censure.
Further, there is no evidence in the report that the NSMA submission has even been read. For a report on 'the tobacco industry' the omission is gross. If this were not enough, two Liberal Senators, Nick Minchin from SA and Sue Knowles from WA put in a dissenting report which recycles all the Industry arguments and would stop all significant progress.
The Committee also acted in limited way, receiving evidence, rather than conducting its own investigation. (Apparently, this is a fault of all Federal Senate committees, and State Committees of Inquiry vary in their degrees of ability and the percentage of resources they are able to deploy in actually finding out the facts for themselves).
The report is available from Australian Govt Bookshops. Contact Dr Pauline Moore 06 277-3515 fax 277-5829.
It is critical that it be implemented. The 1977 Senate Select Committee Report (Baume Report) on Drug Strategy had only 3 of its 18 Smoking recommendations accepted and acted on. The 1985 Better Health Commission report recommending smoke-free public places was also ignored.
Responses to the Senate Report
Richard Mulcahy, ex-executive director of the Tobacco Institute and now with the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) said that any attempt to prohibit smoking in pubs would be strongly opposed.
The Murdoch press, especially the Tele-Mirror in Sydney ran the usual 'poor old smokers' story. Rupert Murdoch is on the Board of Philip Morris.
Leader of the Opposition, John Howard was negative about the report saying he did not support a 'nanny state'. This is most unfortunate. Clearly he and the two dissenting senators will oppose progress as suggested by Senator John Herron of Queensland, surgeon and committee chairman, Dr Brendan Nelson and Dr Bob Woods, a Cancer specialist.
The SA Restaurant Association said that it would oppose moves to ban smoking in restaurants, and the Tobacco Institute launched a campaign on restaurant air-conditioning called 'Courtesy of Choice' which seems very worried about cooking odours as well as 'other sources of air pollution'.
Action Point 1.
Write a short comment on the Senate Report to Senator John Herron as soon as possible and/or write to Paul Keating or John Howard, Parliament House, Canberra 2600. Ask it be implemented.
Smokes in Films
Evelyn Tsitas has written a film review suggesting that films glamourising smoking are all the rage. 'Smoke' is set in a New York tobacconist where 'real' people are bonded by smoking. In 'Water world' there is an entire clan actually called 'Smokers' who have a rousing good time, while the non-smokers don't. And in 'The Net' a girl computer nerd/dork meets her exciting smoking stranger. [It is a bit much to believe that these scripts are an accident - they are merely a logical development in product placement marketing. Health groups will basically have to travel the long road of doing the same, while trying to discourage film studios from being so irresponsible]. Tsitas also points out that there is a film with hope - it is called 'Dead Again'- where the smokers get sick.
Queensland Premier, Treasurer Reply
In November, both the Queensland Premier, Wayne Goss and the Treasurer, Keith de Lacy replied to our submissions to raise tobacco excise and eliminate tobacco promotions. Tobacco ads will be banned under Federal legislation from 31st December, except 'billboards promoting cricket matches' which will last until May 1996. A Tobacco Products Control Bill is to be introduced to restrict vending machines to licensed premises and raise the fines and age of purchase to 18.
However, they did not undertake to raise the excise from 75% to 100% which was our key request. They expressed concerns re child recruitment to smoking and said that they would have awareness campaigns and school education. They have appointed 'a project officer'. However, what will happen in view of the by-elections is still not clear.
The World Conference of Cancer Organisations organised by Dr David Hill of the Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria will be in Melbourne from 4-7th March 1996. Details: ACCV, 1 Rathdowne St., Carlton 3053, 03 9279-1181, fax 9279-1250
Report on Passive Smoking Released
The National Health and Medical Research Council released its 300 page report, 'Health Effects of Passive Smoking' on November 22nd. It stated that there was a 30% increase in heart attack risk, a 26% greater risk of lung cancer, a 50% increase in risk of asthma attack, and in children a 60% increase in the chance of lower respiratory tract infection (bronchitis or pneumonia) in non-smokers exposed to passive smoking. There were 10 lung cancer deaths and 100 heart attack deaths annually caused by passive smoking, as well as 51,620 asthma cases and 17,500 cases of lower respiratory tract infection.
The cost of passive smoking is $21 million annually and the report stated that 40% of indoor workers are still exposed to passive smoking. Chairman Prof. Alastair Woodward said "The time has come for a comprehensive regulatory response to this entirely avoidable and costly risk to public health". The Council recommended smoking restrictions in shops, hotels, restaurants, all indoor public places, outdoor entertainment venues and in cars carrying children. The full draft report is available from: Health Advancement Standing Committee Secretariat, N.H & M.R.C., Mail Drop Point 82, GPO Box 9848, Canberra 2601, ph Vanessa Howells 06 289-8394, fax 06 289-7169. Submissions are welcome up to 31 January.
Canadians, and NZ Ask for Help
The Non-Smokers Rights Movement of Canada has asked for support for their health minister, Hon. Diane Marleau who has suggested a comprehensive framework for legislative control over the manufacture, composition, packaging, labelling, distribution and marketing of tobacco products. The package is a response to the defeat of their advertising ban on the grounds of so-called 'freedom of speech', where the government was held not to have proved that the ad ban was the least drastic measure necessary to stop the harm of tobacco deaths. In the package are an ad ban, sponsorship very cleverly restricted, point of sale limited to a generic word and one pack per brand visible, a ban on mail order sales and expanded reporting requirements.
For a brief summary contact NSMA, more details Non-Smokers Rights Assoc. in Canada ph 0011-1-613-230-4211, fax 230-9454. e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Write to: Hon. Diane Marleau, Minister of Health, Brooke Claxton Bld, 6th fl, Tunney's Pasture, Ottawa, Ont. K1A 0K9 Canada, fax (613) 952-1154, or Rt. Hon. Jean Chretien, Prime Minister, Langevin Block, 80 Wellington St., Ottawa, Ont. K1A 9A2. fax (613) 995-0101.
From 1976-91 smoking prevalence in New Zealand declined from 36% to 26%, but it has been stable since 1991. Now the NZ government after 'discussions' with the Industry wants to bring in the Smoke-Free Environments Amendment Bill 1995 to water down the existing situation. It does not tighten smoke-free restrictions and, while the bill increases the age for purchase to 18, it does nothing to enforce it, and actually legalises point of sale advertising! It also does nothing about kiddies packs of 10 which are still legal in NZ. ASH (NZ) have asked for help.
Details from: Smoke-free Coalition, PO Box 17160, Green Lane, Auckland 5 NZ ph 64-9-524-6005, fax 524-7854, or get basic facts from NSMA. Submissions ASAP to Sarah Boyle, Social Services Committee, Parliament Buildings, Wellington NZ.
Now Philip Morris Documents Leak
A 15 page Philip Morris internal memorandum which stated that 'the primary reason [people smoke] is to deliver nicotine into their bodies'. The memo then went on to compare nicotine's action to other addictive drugs. The memo was released by the Wall St Journal, who also put it on the Internet. It was hailed by plaintiffs' lawyers as further evidence of the company's failure to warn. AFR 11/12/95.
News In Brief
Independent MP, Dr Peter Macdonald has said that he will introduce a bill into the NSW Parliament early in 1996 to ban smoking in hotels, clubs and restaurants, and has called on the NSW Labor government to introduce its own bill.
Prof. Judith Mackay at the 4th Asian Conference o Smoking and Health in Thailand in November 1995 drew attention to the huge increase in Asian women smoking.
NSMA regrets to report the death of Professor Takeshi Hirayama of Japan, author of the most famous study on lung cancer in the wives of smokers published in the BMJ in 1981. He was a very modest man, yet one of the greats, and a strong supporter of activist groups.
A survey of quitters in November 1995 by Smokenders found that 38.4% of smokers would expect compensation fro the tobacco industry for the expense of quitting. They had spent an average of $719.16 per head on trying to quit. 34% had tried hypnosis, 41% gum, 29% patches and 26% other methods. Details Phil Feinstein 1800-021-000.
'Death' cigarettes have arrived in Australia. They warn bluntly of the health hazards but because of the excitement of having a black pack with Death on them they have developed a cult following in the UK. Presumably with even our Senate committee unwilling to bring in generic cigarette packs, we are condemned to having our children hooked too.
A newsletter that monitors TV news, the Tyndall Report has noted that the time that TV has devoted to covering the tobacco industry has fallen by 73% since Philip Morris sued the (US) ABC network. NY Times 9/12/95.
Jeffery Wigand, an ex-Brown and Williamson tobacco employee has been subpoenaed by the State of Mississippi to help in its case to recover health costs from tobacco companies. But he has been injuncted from appearing by the tobacco company who claim that he is prohibited from 'disclosing trade secrets and other proprietary information'. The tobacco company has been instructed by the court not to destroy its records. CBS canceled an interview with Wigand on '60 Minutes'. A columnist in the NY Times is asking 'why?' It was stated that CBS is merging with Westinghouse, and the Chairman of the Board of Westinghouse, Lawrence Tisch, is on the board of the 4th largest US tobacco company. A transcript of the interview was later leaked and stated that the company stopped work on a safer cigarette as it would increase the risk of being sued for existing ones, and deleted records referring to it.
The Nation 4/12/95, Wall St J. 6,7/12/95, NYT 6/12/95, SCARC 20/11/95, Economist 25/11/95.
With all the budget crisis in the US in the news, the tobacco price support subsidy program has remained untouched. It costs $US15 million annually to administer. CQ. 2/12/95.
Republican Ernest Istook proposed a law to limit donations to non-profit corporations that lobby for their causes, such as health groups and those for the poor and disadvantaged. NYT 2/11/95. (It passed as an amendment on a budget bill).
The state of Maryland will now be the 5th US state to sue the tobacco industry for the cost of tobacco-caused illnesses. US activists have asked that congratulations be sent to courageous Governor Parris Glendening, fax 0011-1-410-974-3901 as the Industry is powerful in Maryland.
Stories about the tobacco industry are being killed for fear of legal cases. Time Magazine killed one about the ABC settlement of their suit with Philip Morris, two stories re marketing to youth by NY Times reporter, Philip Hilts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation stopped a documentary on tobacco. Houston Chronicle 17/11/95.
An ad taken out by the group, Campaign for Smoke-Free Kids features a young girl smoking and says, 'Can you name the three most advertised brands? She can. 85% of children who smoke, smoke the 3 most advertised brands, Marlboro, Camel and Newport. The ad was sponsored by over 100 organisations. Roll Call 2/11/95.
A 5th Grade Class has taken out an ad in the newspaper USA Today asking 'President Clinton (and People around the world), Each year, what kills more people than AIDS, alcohol abuse, car accidents, murders, suicides, illegal drugs and fires combined?' Send responses to: Mr Clark's 5th Grade Class, Snowden Elementary School, PO Box 279 Aurora, North Carolina 27806, fax 0011-1-919-322-4372.
Independent WA politician Alex Marsden wants to make cigarettes available only on prescription. S.W. Times, Bunbury 21/11/95
Philip Morris is offering a sweepstake with the prize a trip across the Rocky Mountains in a train renamed the Marlboro Unlimited. Winners need to sign that are smokers. They have also given record donations to Black groups and Congressmen. NYT 19/12/95.
US Women's magazines are still not covering smoking hazards according to Beth Whelen of the American Council on Smoking and Health. (US magazines still carry tobacco ads). USA Today 14/12/95
The Tobacco Institute of Hong Kong commissioned a survey done by Glen Smith which showed that 96% of children aged 7-15 had never smoked. But the survey was attacked because it asked children at home and often in front of their parents. A survey by the Council on Smoking and Health in Hong Kong found that 61% of Boys and 48% of girls had smoked by age 16, and that they were very influenced by advertising. South China Morning Post 7/12/95
A 1994 Czech survey found that 39% of the population smoke 31.8% of doctors, and 48.7% of nurses.
NSMA's Brian McBride is a members of the Smoke-Free Olympic Committee. He was concerned at the composition of the Sydney Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (SOCOG) as Mal Hemmerling who is Chairman has been involved with the Grand Prix and Nick Greiner is on the board of Wills Tobacco. However, Dr Lawrence, Dr Refshauge and the N.H.& M.R.C. have written and urged rejection of any tobacco sponsorship and SOCOG has endorsed this.
The Victorian Health Promotion Foundation spent 10% of last year's budget on the Quit campaign.
Healthway, the WA Health Promotion Foundation claimed success in that smoking in 12-15 year olds fell from 18.6% in 1990 to 15.9% in 1993 whereas the national figures were an increase from 15.7% to 17.5% in the same period.
The ACT Govt has said that it will introduce legislation with increased penalties for sales to minors, and that it might follow NSW into using proof of age cards. Can. Times 14/12/95.
The American Thoracic Society has decided not to publish tobacco company sponsored research in its journals as they tend to give the industry legitimacy. New Scientist 2/12/95.
Greg Soulos has resigned from NSW Quit. With his departure leaves any credibility of this rump organisation.
The Tobacco Institute sweeps its offices for bugs monthly and after the companies meet there. It does not have the technology for the infinity telephone bug yet.
A ban on tobacco advertising in the European Union again failed to pass due to opposition from the UK, Germany, Greece and the Netherlands. All others supported it.
A Riverina survey of 533 year 7, 8 and 10 students showed that 37.7% were occasional or regular smokers. Details Trudy Stewart 069 386-432.
Book Review: Tobacco in Australia- Facts and Issues 1995, by Winstanley M., Woodward S., and Walker N. This much awaited 415 page book is written in a more academic form than its predecessor. It has an overview of smoking in Australia, and many tables and references. Its topics include trends in prevalence, consumption, health effects, workplace smoking, taxation and costs and benefits of smoking, smoking uptake, addiction, cessation, health campaigns, the Industry, advertising and women and smoking. There are appendices on the groups active in smoking in Australia, policies of the major health groups, major legislation and a guide to further reading.
This a is a major resource and is a vital reference for the average person interested in Tobacco, but uncertain where to start in the profusion of unstructured information available. It will shortly be available on the Internet, and on disc. $60 from Quit Victoria. PO Box 888 Carlton Sth VIC. 3053 ph 03 9663-7777, fax 9663-7761.
'Ammonia technology is critical to Marlboro character, taste and delivery'. Brown and Williamson memo 23/10/92 [Ammonia affects pH and nicotine uptake].
'Evidence in now available to indicate that the 14-18 year old group is an increasing segment of the smoking population. RJR-T must soon establish a successful new brand in this market if our position in the industry is to be maintained over the long term'. RJR document 15/3/76.
Winners of the Raffle
1st. Denise Mountford- a night for 2 at the Obervatory Hotel, The Rocks.
2nd. Lindsay Sommerville-Dinner for 2 at Bay Rd Bistro, Lane Cove.
3rd Kim Davis. Dinner for 2 at Bodhi Vegetarian Restaurant, Sydney
4th. Dr Susan Smythe- Dinner for 2 at Emelia's Restaurant, Curl Curl
5th. N. Budd, Dinner for 2 at Pizza Hut.
Book Buyers Prize. Paul Croxon Dinner for 2 at Doc's Restaurant, Willoughby
Thanks donors & sellers, over $800 raised!
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|The Non-Smokers' Movement of Australia Inc, Box K860, Haymarket NSW 1240.
|This page was last updated on 7th August, 2012.
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