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from tobacco smoke
and from the tobacco industry's propaganda.
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Issue 11, March 1996
Change of Government a Challenge for Non-Smokers
The election of the Howard government at the Federal election on the 3rd of March represents a challenge to the Non-Smoking groups. The question is whether progress against tobacco can be maintained, or as in the USA, will the more conservative government simply go backward. There is cause for hope and cause for concern. The Chairman of the Senate Committee which produced the report on 'the Tobacco Industry and the Cost of Tobacco-Related Illness' was Senator John Herron, who is a surgeon, and in the outer cabinet with the Aboriginal Affairs portfolio. Dr Michael Woolridge, an ex-GP and regarded as a 'wet' is Health Minister, and Senator Bob Woods a cancer specialist is his parliamentary secretary. Dr Brendan Nelson the ex-President of the AMA and a staunch foe of the tobacco industry is on the backbench.
Against these hopeful signs, John Howard himself spontaneously criticised the Senate Report's recommendations as being for a 'Nanny State'. (Looking after people is a vice?). Right wing Senator Nick Minchin of SA is Howard's Parliamentary Secretary. He and Sue Knowles of WA were on the Senate Committee and wrote a dissenting report. Respected commentator, Mike Secombe has noted that Mr Howard has put in right wing parliamentary secretaries for ministers of 'small -l' Liberal persuasion. But Howard is a decent man, and needs to be lobbied so that he is not made a captor of right wing ideologues who so influenced ex-NSW Premier Nick Greiner, who had ex-tobacco lobbyists on his staff.
At a parliamentary level, the Democrats, who have always been anti-tobacco, increased their vote and the Liberals will have to deal with them more. Labor, being free of government, may be more willing to do what they should have in government. The question is whether recent gains can be maintained. Dr Carmen Lawrence talked well and created 'Health Australia' to act against tobacco, funded by $20 million over 3 years. The question is whether this will be maintained in the face of the 'razor gangs that will come, looking to health and education for much of their 'savings'.
Probably the best thing to do is to strike early in asking for action from Health Minster Mike Woolridge. Further suggestions below!
Action Point 1
Write to Prime Minster John Howard or Health Minister Mike Woolridge at Parliament House, Canberra 2600 and ask that the recommendations of the Senate Committe on 'The Tobacco Industry and the Cost of Tobacco- Related Illness' be implemented.
Kelly Retires, Welcome Katherine
Kelly Betts has left NSMA after 8 months to work at Amnesty International, and will be replaced by Katherine McKernan, a final year Arts student with experience in student newspapers and womns health issues. Katherine will be in the office every Wednesday, though it is hoped that this will increase later in the year. Unfortunately it has proved impossible to fund the office for 3 days a week.
Editorial Note -
This issue of Update was held over till after the Federal Election in order to help readers in to action on the new government. Please make the most of it and make our voice heard early in the life of the government while it is still setting its priorities!
ACT Laws Start to Bite
The second phase of the Smoke-Free Areas (Enclosed Public Places Act ) 1994 came into force on the 6th December and restaurants are required to go smoke-free unless they have a certificate of exemption which allows them to have up to 25% smoking. The 25% is a maximum.
The A.C.T. also gazetted the Health Promotion Act on 7/11/95. It gives 5% of tobacco tax to health promotion. The law is basically enforced by public pressure but the first prosecution for non-compliance is about to be launched.
Major Victory in US Tobacco Case
The Liggett group who make Chesterfield and are the smallest US tobacco company (with 2.5% of the market) have 'rolled over' and settled with the plaintiff's lawyers who are suing the tobacco industry for millions of dollars. Up to 50 million smokers and ex-smokers in the case are claiming that the tobacco companies and their lobbying arm, the Tobacco Institute, concealed research showing that nicotine was addictive, and that the companies manipulated nicotine levels to keep smokers addicted. The plaintiffs are asking for damages. Chairman of Liggett's parent company, Bennett LeBow said that the tobacco makers assets will 'no longer be held hostage by the tobacco litigation', and commented that 'The tobacco industry has lived for too long with the possibility of financial catastrophe from product liability suits that could destroy the industry.
This settlement is a fresh and prudent approach and positively addresses concerns about underage smoking'. As part of the settlement the company will pay up to 5% of its pretax income up to $US10 million a year for 25 years- a total of $US1.25 billion to help smokers quit, and will comply with the Clinton proposals on tobacco marketing. The company is negotiating with the five states that are also suing tobacco companies to recover the health costs that they have spent on tobacco-caused illness. The Wall Street Journal said that Liggett would pay Florida, Massachusetts, Mississippi, and West Virginia $US4 million over 10 years without admitting liability. The 5th state suing is Minnesota. Louisiana is about to launch a suit also.
Results from the settlement are widespread. There is no legal precedent as there has not been a verdict. But this is the first time that the a tobacco company has given in and paid- so the political precedent is important. It will now be difficult for US States Attorneys General not to sue, as the taxpayers will ask- 'if the money is there for the taking- why aren't you going for it?' The other tobacco companies in the US are putting on a brave face and claiming that they will fight on, but clearly Liggett's lawyers are of the opinion that they cannot hold out forever, and by going first they have got more favourable terms than will be offered later.
The companies Australian subsidiaries are also toughing it out saying that it has nothing to do with them. They may take comfort from the fact that the Senate committee of inquiry into the tobacco industry did not even recommend action in the legal area, despite being asked to do. If the Howard government wants to fund health care without raising taxes, Australians have the right to be asking why our governments are not also suing.
Cancer Council Holds Litigation Seminar
On the very day that the Liggett settlement was announced, 14th March, the NSW Cancer Council was hosting a seminar on tobacco litigation for lawyers. Professor Nick Wald gave information on the epidemiology of tobacco-caused cancer. Professor Richard Daynard of the Tobacco Products Liability Project in Boston was speaking on the progress of litigation in the US, and Neil Francey an Australian litigation lawyers told assembled lawyers that this was a growth area and that cases like this would be winners in the medium term. Francey was the barrister in the case for the Australian Federation of Consumers Organisations when they sued the Tobacco Institute for a misleading ad.
Tobacco Victims Sue Companies
Phyllis Cremona started smoking at 18 and after 20 years of smoking had chronic bronchitis and emphysema and needed a lung transplant. She has quit but is still in poor health at age 45. She has sued Philip Morris, Rothmans, Wills and the Tobacco Institute, alleging failure to adequately warn of the dangers of tobacco. Herald-Sun 23/2/96.
Stuart Miller, a non-smoker who developed cancer of the larynx has sued Rothmans where he worked for 25 years. Canberra Times 9/12/95.
In Florida 23 flight attendants have been allowed to proceed with a class action suit on passive smoking called Broin v. Philip Morris. Int. Herald Tribune 6/1/96.
Action Point 2
Write to Federal Treasurer Attorney -General, Amanda Vanstone and ask her to sue the tobacco companies to recover the cost of tobacco-caused disease, as they have in the USA.
NSW Point of Sales Ads Prosecution
Rosewing, a tobacco retailer at Castle Hill was fined $1,500 with $1,546 in costs for advertising cigarettes with a large illuminated display case and sign. The maximum fine is $5,000. The Magistrate, J. Dive sad that the company had apparently preferred the tobacco company's advice to that of the Health Dept, who had warned Rosewing that the sign was illegal. NSW Health Dept Press Release 15/3/96.
Tobacco Companies Still Sponsoring
Wills Tobacco, prevented from advertising its Benson and Hedges brand by sponsoring cricket in Australia., is using sponsorship of its Wills brand in the World Cup. Social workers in Pakistan are trying to tell people that it is the 'World Cup of Cancer'. Herald-Sun 24/2/96
Philip Morris is sponsoring a new Falcon racing team called 'Pack Leader'. Its colours look remarkably like those from the previous season's Peter Jackson as does its chief driver, Alan Jones. A Philip Morris spokesman said it was 'an imaginative name for a racing team' and he 'expected the [health] groups to sit up and take notice'. Aust. 25/1/96.
News in Brief
It has been revealed that the ads for Marlboro clothing and the Marlboro Unlimited train rides generated more than 17 million orders for 63 million items. Marlboro cigarettes gained an extra 8% of the market during this time. Ms Taro Carraro, Philip Morris spokeswoman described the promotions as 'very successful'. AFR 27/2/96 (Just in case you thought parallel product advertising did not work).
Cigarette ads are back on the streets in Canada for the first time since 1989. They were also in a weekly magazine where a couple of young girls are seen naked in bed wearing tattoos, handcuffs and with body piercing. The slogan mocked the health warning 'Smoking will kill you', and the ad for Buz cigarettes said, 'Catch a Buz..it's only naughty the first time'. This ad is possible because the tobacco industry succeeded in getting the Supreme Court to rule 4 to 3 on 21st September last year that the 1988 advertising ban was a violation of the companies 'freedom of speech'.
The court ruled that an ad ban was rationally connected to reducing smoking but health groups failed to prove that ad bans were effective in reducing consumption after the tobacco industry managed on a technicality to exclude all evidence after 1989 that advertising bans were effective. The government was also not able to prove that a total ad ban was the least drastic means of reducing consumption. Globalink Oct 1995, Her-Sun 15/1/96, H. Mercury 23/2/96
There is controversy in Malaysia as to whether smoking should be declared 'haram' or un-Islamic. The National Fatwa Council has been asked to rule. It is a problem for the central government as there is a rise in Islamic fundamentalism in some states with bans on drinking, public cuddling, and even opposite sexes being together in cinemas or check-out queues. Courier-Mail 13/1/96
The China Daily newspaper has introduced smoke-free indoor air policy for all areas except washrooms and a few corridors in response to a Beijing Municipal Government call. Similar laws are in Shanghai, Guanghou and Wuhan. However some provinces, such as Yunnan have a new-found prosperity from tobacco, where it is responsible for 85% of state revenue. Lung cancer is increasing at 4.5% a year, as youth take up smoking. Tax revenues are estimated at $HK7.1 billion and costs at $HK8.7. China Daily 18/1/96
The rise in smoking in US teenagers is continuing for the third year in a row, proving that the battle against tobacco is not being won. The University of Michigan reported that in 1995 34% of US high school seniors had smoked cigarettes during the previous month, up from 28% in 1994.
Business Week Int. 26/2/96
Alan Dear, a journalist with the Financial Review, who developed cancer of the larynx in 1991 and received an OAM for his work for work for the Laryngectomy Society died of his cancer aged 54. His strong non-smoking stand will be missed. AFR 6/3/96
Philip Morris was the 17th biggest company in the world in 1995, having had a $US4.725 billion profit in 1994. BAT was 61st with $1.88 billion. Wall St. Journal. 2/10/95
The Australian Grand Prix was run in Melbourne on March 3rd with lots of cigarette advertising in the best 3rd world tradition. Rothmans won from Marlboro. Meanwhile Nigel Mansell is trying to get smoking banned from his golf club in Devon, having made millions driving the Camel Lotus, Marlboro McLaren, and Rothmans Williams. We see that they did not buy his soul after all! Tele 3.2.96
A 9 year old boy, Chris Saker died in hospital after being burned in a fire in a stable in Kerang, Victoria. The boy was believed to have been smoking there with his 10 year old friend, and dropped a lighted cigarette. Herald Sun 23/1/96
CBS has finally telecast the interview with tobacco whistleblower. Jeffery Wigand on '60 Minutes'. He stated that Brown and Williamson Tobacco executives knew that tobacco was addictive while they publicly denied it, kept an additive in pipe tobacco which had been widely reported as being cancer-causing, and changed the minutes of a meeting in which he discussed his efforts to produce a safer cigarette as they were concerned that it woulds be obvious that they were aware that the others were not safe. (The interview has not yet been aired in Australia.) Int. Her. Tribune 6/2/96
Members will be distressed to know that the document submitted as a constitution by the 'Smokers are Voters and Civil Rights' Party was rejected as inadequate under clause 89(c) by the ACT Electoral Commission and their registraion as a political party ceased on 30th August 1995.
Tobacco in Australia- Facts and Issues 1995, Winstanley M., Woodward S., and Walker N.
This 415 page book is more academic than its predecessor, with many tables and references. It has an overview of smoking in Australia, trends in prevalence, consumption, health effects, workplace smoking, taxation, costs/benefits of smoking, uptake, addiction, cessation, health campaigns, the Industry, advertising and women and smoking. There are appendices on the health groups active in Australia, policies of the major groups, legislation and a guide to further reading. This a is a major resource and a vital reference for the people interested in Tobacco, but uncertain where to start in the profusion of unstructured information available. $60 from Quit Victoria. PO Box 888 Carlton Sth VIC. 3053 ph 03 9663-7777, fax 9663-7761 It will shortly be available on the Internet, and on disc.
A Brisbane conference has confirmed that smoking is linked to prostate cancer, according to Prof. Ken Donald of the Repatriation Medical Authority. Mildura Midweek 20/2/96
New evidence linking passive smoking and heart disease has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine by British and Australian researchers. The study used ultrasound to compare the arteries of 26 people not exposed to passive smoking, 26 who were, and 26 smokers. Arteries in the arms of non-exposed dilated 10%, whereas smokers and those exposed to passive smoke dilated only 4%. Dr David Celermajer of RPA Hospital in Sydney was one of the researchers. A US study has estimated that partners of smokers have a 30-50% greater chance of dying from heart disease than those with non-smoking partners and the toll from passive smoking in the US is 20,000. Aust 18/1/96
A mystery chemical in cigarette smoke may give smokers a 'high' by stopping breakdown of dopamine in the brain, according to Joanna Fowler, a New York researcher. Drugs of abuse, including nicotine release dopamine, which is broken down by monoamine oxidase B (MAO). However MAO B activity is lower in smokers, so there is thought to be a substance inhibiting it, and allowing dopamine levels to rise. Moclobemide (Aurorix) a drug that also inhibits MAO B is therefore being trialled to help smokers quit. NT News 24/2/96
Beta Carotene, the vitamin taken in large doses to try to help stop smokers getting lung cancer does not work, according to US study results. In fact the smokers taking it got more lung cancer than those who were not, so Dr Bruce Armstrong of the NSW Cancer Council has recommended the trial be called off. SMH 20/1/96.
Smoking has been linked to early onset of Alzheimer's disease at Boston University's School of Medicine.
Drug abuse costs Australia $18.9 billion annually, a 26% rise between 1988 and 1992 according to the Commonwealth Dept of Health and Human Services. Of this tobacco costs were $12.7 billion or 67%, alcohol $4.4 billion and illicit drugs $1.7 billion. Tele 5/3/96
Smokers have 50% more crashes and 46% more driving convictions than non-smokers, according to Dr Michael Henderson, a Road Safety expert. Dr Henderson said that while there was no doubt of the figures, the reason is less clear. Possibilities include distraction with lighting up, carbon monoxide effects, smokers drink more, or more have more risk taking behaviour. Age 9/2/96.
Why not have an input to Update?
Our Address is: Non-Smokers' Movement of Australia,
Box K860, Haymarket NSW 1240.
'This government has placed very little importance on health promotion. They spend more money on the eradication of carp'. MBF Fund director Derris Gillam before the recent Tasmanian election
A recent trip to Papua and New Guinea reminded me of the bad old days in terms of tobacco advertising- huge Winfield ads spread on the hills surrounding Port Moresby, backing everything from Rugby League (one of the local religions) to music tours. Duplicated in the print media. Also curious to see was the open sale of single cigarettes, cheap at around 15 cents each. Full packets are less than half the price paid here. In contrast, though there is a pleasing awareness of the issue of clean indoor air, a positive influence from Australia which extends to domestic plane flights (at least by the major carrier, Air Niugini).
A reliable local witness (accompanying the daughter of a certain elder statesman of PNG) described some of the activities of the tobacco companies in PNG to me. He has seen representatives of the Multinationals (one expat with one local) traveling by small boat, loaded up with samples, posters, stickers and other promotional material. They visit the coastal villages, set up display stands, give out free samples, and negotiate trade agreements with local chiefs and landholders. All followed by a big spread for dinner with the local heavies...Crude but effective marketing.
Dr Mitchell Smith
Thank you very much for sending relevant non-smoking information throughout last year.
Previously I was medical officer in charge of the Medical ward at Prince Wellington Ngu Hospital, Vava'u, Kingdom of Tonga, but from February 1995 I have been in Nauru.
Nauru is a central Pacific island with a total population of 10,000, of which 60% are Nauruans. Smoking is popular with about 80% of those of working age smoking. Nauru is a tax-free country and cigarettes are amongst the cheapest in the world. Nevertheless, I am interested in running an anti-smoking programme and look forward to any input you can have while I am working here. Please send material to me at the address below. Dr Tin Htay, Nauru General Hospital, Republic of Nauru, Central Pacific.
Action Point 3.
Have you joined up a new member yet? Why not do it now!
|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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