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 12, May 1996

  Smoking Kills More than Guns. Why No Action?

The Senate Committee report on 'The Tobacco Industry and the Cost of Tobacco-Related Illness' chaired by Senator John Herron, was tabled on 7th May. Herrron gave an impassioned speech in favour of it, but there does not seem much will for action.

When 35 people were massacred in Tasmania by a gunman, there was a National summit, the States and the Commonwealth actually cooperated and there was even bipartisan support between the two major parties for action on gun laws. Yet 60 people a day die of tobacco-caused illness and there is no action in any parliament at all!

It might be noted that 7 US states have now sued the tobacco industry to recover the cost of tobacco-caused illness. They are Mississippi, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Florida, Texas, West Virginia, and Maryland. Yet this suggestion was too radical for our Senate and must be requested separately.

Action Point 1

Write to John Howard and ask that the Senate Report into the Cost of Tobacco and Tobacco- Related Illness' be implemented.

Refshauge Introduces Proof of Age

On 24th April NSW Health Minister Dr Andrew Refshauge introduced a bill for 'proof-of -age card for NSW teenagers trying to buy cigarettes. The shopkeeper will have to prove that the person buying cigarettes is of a legal age. This will make prosecutions easier. It is an incremental change, but probably worthwhile, though it plays into the hands of the tobacco industry who are trying to make smoking an 'adult custom', which makes it heavily prized by children. Why there are misgivings is the conspicuous lack of success of the proof of age card in alcohol sales. Every pub seems full of under age drinkers on Saturday nights, so one must wonder. It is to be hoped that Dr Refshauge will do more than this, but the signs are not good.

Nicateen Greiner Chairman of Wills

Mr Nick Greiner, former Premier of New South Wales has recently been appointed as Chairman of the board of Wills Tobacco. This is simply a further step down the tobacco path for Greiner, who while Premier prevented Peter Collins (the former Health Minister) from taking stronger action against tobacco companies in NSW. Some weeks ago, speaking on the ABCs religious program Compass, Greiner stated that his perspective favoured "private morality". This now seems to mean is that he is against legislation which would make certain actions illegal such as tobacco sales because he believes that they should be self regulated.

In other words, smokers themselves would have to realise that their actions were "immoral" in order to provide clean air and good health for all of society! They cannot rely on the 'private morality' of tobacco barons. Greiner clearly thinks it is moral to encourage tobacco sales. Never mind that smoking is addictive. Which world is he living in?!!!

Victory in the U.S.

On March 13, the Liggett Group. America's fifth largest tobacco company, settled two lawsuits out of court, the Castano case and the class action from five American states, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi and West Virginia. The Castano case claimed that the tobacco company was manipulating the nicotine levels and misleading the consumers as to the addictiveness of tobacco. The result was such that the Liggett group will pay $US5 million over the next ten years as compensation for medical treatment and 2.5% of its pre-tax profit into Quit programs. Further, it has to make available 5% of its income for other States who may want to join the settlement.

According to Prof Simon Chapman, this has implications for Australia as in 1985 the tobacco companies lobbied to have the slogan "Smoking is addictive" excluded from slogans that were about to be put on cigarette packets, advertising etc. This implicates the Australian tobacco companies in a similar way and all that is required is that the Government take action! The Liberal government has enthusiasm for economic rationalism and user pays so getting the tobacco companies to pay the health bill should be their first priority. But you'd better write and tell them!

Action Point 2

Write to the Federal Attorney General, Daryl Williams and ask that he sue the tobacco industry to recover the cost of tobacco-caused illness.

Woolridge May Increase Quit Funds

Federal Health Minister, Dr Michael Woolridge may increase Quit funds, devolving the Federal campaign and farming the money out to the states, Dr Woolridge said that he did not see the point in replicating campaigns that he thought the states were doing better. Ms Judith Watt, Executive Director of Quit Victoria welcomed the news, although had reservations about losing a Federal body. NSW Quit funding has been very poor for years so this should give it a boost.

Tax News

Queensland's Liberal Health Minister, Mike Horan plans to ask his cabinet to increase tobacco excise. Qld tax is 75% of wholesale price, as opposed to 100% for the rest of Australia, so much tobacco is moved across the border especially at night. Disappointingly, Labor Opposition Leader Peter Beattie played politics recalling the 'no new taxes' election promises. As an ex-health minister, it might have been hoped that he would be more supportive as many health groups had lobbied for Qld to come into line with the other states. Courier Mail 3/5/96

The ALP Left in Victoria have suggested increased tobacco tax as one of a number of 'polluter pays' initiatives which would help to modify consumer behaviour. Her-Sun 26/4/96

Health News

Once again in the UK a tobacco-company-funded scientific investigation concluded that there was no evidence that breathing second hand tobacco smoke caused lung cancer. Cancer and lung experts were not amused, and Dr John Moore-Gillon commented: "The findings of this analysis, which was paid for by the tobacco companies is in direct contrast to the views of every well respected expert in the field". Reuters.

A new Swiss study of 244 smokers and 1032 non-smokers has shown that women increase their risk of breast cancer in proportion to how much they smoke. Less than 10 a day had 2x the risk, 10-19 had 2.7x and over 20 had 4.4x the risk. NT News 9/5/96

Smokers in their 30s and 40s have 5 times the chance of a heart attack compared to non-smokers and changing to low tar does not help this according to a study in the British Medical Journal. Straits Times 15/4/96

In Western Australia the Royal Women's and Children's Hospital have conducted a study on the damage caused by passive smoking on children's lungs. Those exposed to tobacco smoke were found to be underweight at birth and more likely to have poor respiratory functions later on in life. (West Australian 26/3/96)

Tobacco poisons have also been found in cervical mucus which has strengthened the thought that smoking is linked to cervical cancer. Strait Times 23/4/96

Possible action in Tasmania

Because of the political situation in Tasmania (minority government) it looks like smoking legislation could be the hot issue of the day! The Tasmanian Cancer Council is forming a coalition of health groups with a view to putting pressure on the government to legislate for smoke free restaurants, pubs and clubs. The inaugural meeting of the coalition was on 21st May so stay posted.

NSMA's Role in Smoke Free Olympics

NSMA's Brian McBride is a member 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 Chairman of Wills Tobacco. However, Dr Refshauge and the National Health and Medical Research Council have written and urged rejection of any tobacco sponsorship and SOCOG has endorsed this.

ACOSH Appoints New Director

The Australian Council on Smoking and Health has a new director, Susan Hoare. Susan has a background in community services, spending eighteen years in policy, community development and project management in the State Government, Local Government and Non-Government areas. She also is an elected member of the Fremantle City Council. NSMA welcomes her, and looks forward to cooperating with her in future campaigns.

Tobacco Advertising Car Farce

The Australian race driver Alan Jones has come under fire because of his sponsor - Philip Morris. Because of the Federal legislation against tobacco company sponsorship of sporting events, Alan Jones' car has been repainted with the same colours and had the words Peter Jackson changed to Pack Leader. It has been claimed that the car still looks like a cigarette packet and although Philip Morris ran an ad with a car in their colours with the slogan 'Bursting Through the Pack' Jones contends that "My car probably looks more like a Kraft cheddar cheese packet than any cigarette packet." Federal Health Department Officials claim that the matter could be resolved in court.

However, as most members are aware health organisations cannot afford to take this matter to court. What members can do is lodge a complaint with the Federal Health Department and Austel, the television advertising regulator. This will ensure that the pressure continues to prevent Philip Morris and other tobacco companies from trying to dodge and manipulate Federal legislation.

NSMA - Looking for Action

Vice President Brian McBride is sick of the 'all talk no action' stance of Federal and State politicians with regard to smoke free indoor air legislation. Instead, he wants the NSMA to take legal action. So, NSMA members, if any of you are willing to pursue this or know someone who is, please contact us at the NSMA. The NSMA sees two ways of doing this. The first is to run a major legal case similar to Liesel Scholem's action. The second is to take a restaurant, club or pub to the Small Claims Court. Any patron who is affected by smoke, (e.g. sore eyes) can then claim the costs of the inconvenience, the medical visit and the medication. Small claims could have a big effect.

News in Brief

Smoking in Outdoor Areas has become the hot issue in the U.S. Smoking has been banned in the city public park system in Houston Texas. Cities in California have also banned smoking within six metres of any building entrance, which means that smoking is virtually banned in the Downtown Areas! Other States have focused on areas where children are likely to be around, banning smoking in playgrounds and beaches. Internat. Herald Tribune 6/5/96.

A total smoking ban has been announced for the new $55 million Woodford prison due to open in Queensland next year. There is danger of riots and little support from the Civil Liberties Council or the State Public Service Federation according to the Courier Mail of 20/4/96.

Philip Morris and RJR-Nabisco led the corporations who gave money to US political parties. Together they donated $A2.6 million to the political parties, and both gave roughly 5 times as much to the Republicans as the Democrats. Source: Centre for Responsible Politics in The Age 14/3/96

The Hong Kong bill to ban tobacco advertising has run into trouble according to the Council on Smoking and Health. Leaked information also showed that he tobacco companies have a sponsorship program all ready to go should it pass, and are lobbying to allow 'indirect advertising' as a fall back position. Sth China Morning Post 17/4/96

As well as Nick Greiner's appointment to the Wills, Wills has also appointed a new executive director, Stuart Watterton, who is an expert in tobacco economics. He has worked in Central America, the Caribbean, Nigeria and New Zealand. He was also involved in the development of tobacco markets in Eastern Europe in 1990. SMH 14/05/96

The 3M company, the 3rd largest billboard company in the US will cease advertising cigarettes when existing contracts expire. 3M makes many medical products from surgical gowns to heart-lung machines. Its medical products account for $2 billion of its $US13.5 billion annual sales as opposed to $2 million in cigarettes billboards. Bangkok Post 7/5/96 3M owns Australian Posters and were involved in lobbying in Australia to keep tobacco advertising. NSMA's Dr Chesterfield-Evans called for a boycott of their products at the International Organisation of Consumer Unions in 1991 and they would have been very vulnerable to this tactic.

A new history of the tobacco industry, 'Ashes to Ashes' by Richard Kluger has been praised as 'important but depressing' by the New York Times. The determination of the writer to be dispassionate increasingly irritating the reviewer as ever more evidence of the harm emerged. The other fact was the incredible slowness of the health forces to get organised and the minimalist approach of governments. Finally even Kluger calls for action against the tobcco companies as the only solution.

Action Point 3.

Have you joined up a new member yet? Why not do it now!

Why not have an input to Update?

Our Address is:

Our Address is: Box K860, Haymarket NSW 1240.

We are active- please be active also!

Office News from Katherine!

Thank you to those members who responded to the call for donations for NSMA. We received around $2000 which means that the movement is able to be much more active! However, we are still in desperate need of members as unfortunately some people are failing to renew their subscription . This has largely been due to people thinking that the fight against the tobacco companies is over. How wrong they are! If you know of anyone who would be interested in joining please give them a form .

I have been very busy in the past few weeks working with the Legal Unit at the NSW Department of Health. Jeff Hudson, a NSMA member, sent in a copy of the South Coast Register which appeared to contain illegal advertisements for tobacconists. I contacted Andrew Wilson of the NSW Dept of Health who referred me to the Illawarra Public Health Unit (IPHU). The IPHU have sent out a warning to the South Coast Register and if it happens again they will receive a fine of $1500.

I also received a phone call from Ms Byrne, a member of the public, who was concerned about the Longbeach promotion at Strathfield Plaza by Philip Morris. Longbeach had a beach scene set up in the Plaza which was particularly attractive to children. The promoters seemed well aware that their actions were illegal as they dismantled the display when Ms Byrne attempted to take photos. I again contacted Andrew Wilson and he is in the process of taking serious legal action. If any members come across anything like this, please contact me or the NSW Dept of Health and we will follow it up. This must be stopped!!

Arthur and I have written to the NSW State Members of Parliament asking that a Bill be introduced for smoke free indoor air and further, that there be bipartisan support for such a Bill. We have received a number of replies from Members, the most supportive was from Ms Marie Ficarra, member for St George, who wrote to Dr Andrew Refshauge asking that he (seriously!) consider our letter. Not much I know, but better than nothing. We are ready for Tassie next!


    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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