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 16, January 1997.

  Air Standard Legitimises Indoor Smoke Pollution!

The new draft Australian/New Zealand Standard 'The Use of Ventilation and Air-Conditioning in Buildings, part 2- Ventilation of Buildings' which is currently for public comment effectively legitimises indoor smoking. Standards Australia is a private body that sets uniform standards for Australia and makes its income by marketing the standards.

Key features of the draft are:

The Standard claims to set 'minimum permissible ventilation rates, based on a health requirement, rather than a comfort (amenity ) level' (Foreword). However, it then goes on to define a non-health index, the

'Amenity Index' is used to express how much people are fussy about their air quality. According to the introduction to the new standard the 'Amenity Indices' 'represent a consensus judgement of community expectations' (Appendix A). In other words the draft Standard assumes that people tolerate smoke in these situations so the air quality can be set at a poorer level.

So far from considering health in a scientific fashion the standard used existing tolerance of polluted air to justify its continuation, and carcinogens are treated by their supposed tolerability (amenity) level. Not surprisingly, areas where 'intensive smoking' is permitted have higher 'Amenity indices'.

While large assembly rooms have an 'Amenity Index' of 7.5, lounges are 5, and bars etc are 3.5. Transit areas such as stairs and storage areas also are 3.5. In other words air is poorer in bars and this is regarded as normal. One increases airflow if there is smoking, but one still expects worse air and set the new standard to ensure it.

Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) is not mentioned as a contaminant in the same way as other contaminants, such as formaldehyde or even the smell of urinals are.

Instead, in enclosures where smoking is permitted, the ventilation flow rate is double that of smoke free areas. In other words, as long as the flow rates is double what it would be for a smoke-free environment, the ventilation will meet the draft standard.

Smoking enclosures are arbitrarily divided into 'Smoking', meaning 0.5 cigarettes per head per hour and 'Intensive Smoking', meaning 1.0 cigarettes per inhabitant per hour. Bars, cabarets, cocktail lounges, casinos and lobbies are defined as 'intensive smoking' areas.

There must be pressure differences between contaminated areas in hospitals, yet no difference is specified between smoking and non-smoking volumes.

The Draft standard assumes that air will be recycled from smoking to non-smoking 'enclosures' (the word 'smoke-free' is not used) and merely sets the standard for the non-smoking areas as the same as the smoking. This is despite the fact that where air may be taken from for kitchens unflued gas heating and car exhausts etc are specified in great detail, and other combustion sources must be ventilated as exhaust.

Carbon monoxide levels are specified for car parks, but not for smoky bars. Atmospheric Contaminants must be monitored in car parks, but need not be in bars or other areas where there is ETS.

Atmospheric pollutants from furnishings and building materials are specified although these are transient and unavoidable, yet smoking which is both ongoing and avoidable is not.

Yet the level of smoking particulates and gas contaminants in smoking prohibited areas are 0, and those in 'intensive smoking' areas are 2.8.

There is avoidance of mentioning tobacco smoke as a pollutant, e.g. the delicate wording in C3.4.3, 'it is assumed that a lack of air freshness would be the result of body odour or moderate quantities of common indoor environment gaseous or particulate contaminants. Where concentrations of ..contaminants are significantly greater..larger openings may be needed...' In other words, it is all right to mention 'body odour', but not 'tobacco smoke'. The accepted but unwritten assumption is that tobacco smoke exists as a 'common contaminant (hence does not need special treatment or legislation').

There is no justification for these arbitrary values and assumptions expressed in the draft standard, yet there are formulae and calculations based on these flawed assertions.

The Draft states that the percentage efficiency of the air cleaning units for odours and gaseous irritants..shall be determined by a suitable test' (4.11.4) then immediately notes 'At the time of publication Standards Australia/New Zealand was not aware of suitable tests specifications for the determination of this efficiency'. So a test is specified, although it is stated that one does not exist. (This is because it is not possible to remove the gaseous contaminants from ETS).

The Standard states that the NSW Health Department was involved in the committee. This is denied by the department.

A point that need to be made is that Standards Australia is a business that makes and sells standards. Because it has lots on committees on little understood subjects it is able to get industry experts together and produce standards that ensure uniformity, (e.g. of electrical plugs and sockets) that can easily be cited by legislation. It is convenient for regulators and consumers to have uniform standards. However, there are so many standards to be made that unfunded community, consumer and health groups are not able to attend all the committees to have input. In this case the Health Department was not involved in the draft. It is incumbent on Standards Australia to look after the community interest when this may conflict with vested interests. In this case Standards Australia has conspicuously failed to do so, and had either been incredibly naive, or has yielded to vested interests. There was also some criticism by environmental groups of pesticide use standards. If the situation cannot be improved, then the status of Standards Australia must be brought into question, and other regulatory mechanisms explored.

Action Point 1

Write to the Minister for Consumer Affairs or Minister for Science and Technology to protest at the hijacking of Standards Australia by tobacco Interests.

Ask that the Standards Association continue to accept submissions up to and including the Passive Smoking Task Force expected from the NSW government in February, and demand that Standards Australia be more accountable to consumer interests, and that if needed a budget be provided for this.

Smoking Households Report

What They Go Without is the title of a monograph by Geraldine Spencer of Canberra ASH using Australian Bureau of Statistics 1993-4 figures to compare smoking and non-smoking households. In 1993-4, 35% of households had a smoker, down from 37% in 1988-9 and 46% in 1984.

Poverty, being born overseas and youth led to more smokers. Smoking households generally earned less per occupant. Smoking increased with decreasing income, until the lowest level, when it fell again, presumably because older households have lower income and do not smoke much. Tobacco households also spent more on alcohol.

What Smoker spent less on was clothing, medical care, saving and recreation. Another item of interest was

Brand share, which was as follows: Winfield had 17%, Longbeach 10.4%, Peter Jackson 10%, Horizon 7.7%, and Benson and Hedges 7.2%

The report is available from Canberra ASH Inc. POB 280 Dickson 2602, fax 06 247-1022.

Smoking Rates Analysis

Australian Prevalence of smoking as a percentage is:

Age     18-24  25-34  35-44   45-54   55-59   60-64    65+ 

Male 30.5 39.6 29.2 20.6 22.8 17.2 18.4

Female 35.2 28.5 24.3 16.8 21.2 13.2 8.5

Persons 32.8 34.0 26.7 18.7 22.0 15.2 12.9

The adult mean is 25%, males 27.7%, females 22.3%

The fact that younger groups smoke more means that the recruitment of children to tobacco use continues unabated. It is therefore discouraging to find that the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation noted in its 1996 Annual Report, 'The percentage of Victorians who smoke has reduced by an average per year of 0.5% for men and 0.7% for women since 1989'. Apart from being satisfied with such a pathetic percentage, it disguises the fact that smoking rates have basically been steady for about 5 years, and the former years of progress are being averaged out to cover this.

Central Sydney Area Health Service (CSAHS) has developed a model Tobacco Control plan. It notes that tobacco causes 26.1% of all deaths and costs CSAHS $15.6 million a year. The plan has a number of aspects such as : education of inpatients, self- help quitting, smoke-free workplaces, encouraging primary care givers to be more active, stopping sales to minors, and reinforcing the state campaign (which certainly needs it!)

CSAHS has funded this to the tune of $350,000, which is just over $3 per smoker per year. Modest, but a start.

The New Zealand Health Ministry, concerned that 40 kids a day are recruited to smoking will use 13 year olds to see if shops sell to minors. NZ Drug Foundation.

Tobacco Industry Delays N.H. & M.R.C. Report.

The Tobacco Institute, Rothmans and Philip Morris challenged the legal validity of the National Health and Medical Research Council Report into the health effects of Passive Smoking. The case revealed that the N.H. and M.R.C. had made a decision to consider only evidence in peer-reviewed journals, and that the 'failure to consult' and to review 'all scientific evidence' put it in breach of its duty. The Council's lawyer said that the Council was under no obligation to give weight to all evidence. Canberra Times 22/11/96

Focus on Asia:

How Dr Prakit Defeated US Tobacco Interests in Thailand

In 1985 Dr Prakit Vateesatokit, the head of the Respiratory Dept of Bangkok's Rama VI Hospital noticed Marlboro ads on the road from Bangkok airport and T-shirts, kites and baseball caps and school notebooks with Marlboro logos. He wondered why, since American brands were banned. The company denied putting them there and accused pirates of stealing its logo. But further investigations revealed that the ads were a prelude to use of threatened Section 301 trade sanctions to open the Thai market to US tobacco companies.

But Dr Prakit is a true anti-smoking hero, who had got tobacco advertising banned in 1988. He got himself appointed to the official delegation that pleaded Thailand's case at GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) hearings. He requested a public hearing in Washington. There the US Trade Representative, Carla Hills, who was used to being the hero helping exporters was seen as the handmaiden of Big Tobacco. Dr Prakit was helped by many health groups in the US. Carla Hills was embarrassed and suspended the Section 310 action in the US, instead referring the matter to the World Trade Organisation in Geneva in 1990. Dr Prakit again represented Thailand.

Technically the tobacco industry won and Thailand had to allow foreign brands in. But the decision was that they did not have to allow advertising as the US had sought and the publicity helped the health cause immensely and galvanised Asia in outrage. In 1995 foreign brands in Thailand were still limited to 3%, far below the 25% that US interests had anticipated. There was also a break between the US cigarette exporters and trade officials. International Herald Tribune 19/11/96.

Cambodia and Vietnam

Dr Judith Mackay, under the auspices of UICC (International Union Against Cancer) is continuing her heroic work against tobacco, and has held workshops in Cambodia and Vietnam. In Cambodia 80% of men and 15% of women smoke. Tobacco advertising is everywhere and free cigarettes are distributed. The TransNational Tobacco companies have bought out local companies and the usual sponsorship deals are also going on. 90% of the cigarettes are smuggled into Vietnam.

In Vietnam 73% of men and 4% of women smoke. Tobacco is a state monopoly, yet about 8% of cigarettes are foreign, being smuggled. The government is trying to act against tobacco, unlike in Cambodia, and even the Vietnamese army newspaper is urging not to sell local tobacco companies to foreign firms. Bangkok Post 3/12/96. Reports on GLOBALink-Tobacco UICC News Dec 1996

China News and Conference

A 5 year old girl in the Chinese city of Tianjim almost died from cigarette smoke at her grandmother's birthday which was held in a very small room with many adults smoking. She was rushed to hospital with extreme breathing difficulty. Eight people said they would quit. Straits Times 7/12/96

China is to seek to ban tobacco advertising and already has some cities that have done so, including Beijing, according to Cao Ronggui, vice minister of public health.

China Daily 18/11/96

China's airline CAAC, and Indonesia's Garuda have banned smoking on internal flights and some international flights. British Airways has gone smoke-free on all transatlantic flights. Qantas is totally smoke-free.

The 10th World Conference on Tobacco or Health is in Beijing August 24-28 1997. Abstracts must be submitted by April 1. Registration is $US300 before 1 May, $US350 after and $400 on site.

Contact: Secretariat 10th WCTOH, Chinese Assoc. on Smoking and Health, Bldg. 12. Dist.1, Anhuaxili, Beijing 100011, China. Ph. (86 10) 6426-0978, fax 6426-0067 or 6426-0978

More US States Sue Tobacco Companies

In the USA 17 states are now suing the tobacco industry to recover the health costs of tobacco-caused illness. They are Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Minnesota, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington and West Virginia. The Minnesota Supreme Court has asked for the recipe so it can judge what the industry had been putting in. The four major tobacco companies have joined in a pre-emptive suit to stop Hawaii suing them. The main danger is that the tobacco-purchased US Congress may pass a law for a 'once only' settlement for all tobacco-caused diseases, after which it would be business as usual. On a brighter note, British Columbia in Canada has announced plans to sue the tobacco industry also.

The AMA has renewed its calls for the implementation of the Herron report into the Tobacco Industry. This recommended a large range of progressive measures when it was tabled on December 15 1995, but nothing has happened in a year, and the tobacco industry regards it as buried. One of its recommendation is to stop sponsorship exemptions for the Melbourne Formula 1 Grand Prix.

Sections of the financial press are painting healthy behaviour as a reason for tax reform. Without tax reform, tobacco tax is a large slice of Federal and State revenue. 'Sin' taxes are about 20% of government revenue. So as people quit or drink less the government is getting short of money. Since naughty people getting healthier, they'd better have a GST! Age 13/12

Health Research

An article in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association in August states that non-smokers married to smokers have a 20% greater chance of dying from heart disease than if they were married to non-smokers.

Women who smoke in pregnancy have double the chance of a baby with a cleft lip according to a Californian birth defect Monitoring Program study by Gary M. Shaw.

Researchers at the University of California at San Diego tested short-term memory in smokers and non-smokers and found that nicotine improved recall of words previously flashed in the screen. The researchers emphasised that the slight change did not warrant the other risks associated with smoking. Adelaide Advertiser 21/11/96.

A new study by Robert Baldwin of smoking in a rural NSW gay and lesbian social club found a gay smoking rate of 38.7% and a lesbian rate of 28.6%, as against a national rate of 26% in males and 24% in females (1992 figures). Westlink Summer.

Children who smoke regularly are 22 times more likely to use illegal drugs according to a survey by the Addictive Behaviour Centre in London, after surveying more than 4000 schoolchildren. Geelong Advertiser 10/12/96.

A study by the Australian College of Physicians found that women smokers are more likely to develop lung cancer than men and need fewer cigarettes to do so. A study in the US found that a woman who smoked 20 cigarettes a day for 40 years had a cancer risk three time higher than a man smoking the same amount. Sth China Morning Post 9/9/96.

A United States based study has found that smoking doubles the odds of going blind. The study found that smoking increased the risk of developing macular degeneration, an untreatable disease. Macular degeneration reduces the central visual field gradually, finally resulting in blindness. The study also linked smoking to cataracts, a common but treatable cause of blindness. NT News 10/10/96.

A British study has found that male long term smokers had only a 42% chance of reaching the age of 73, compared with a 78% chance for men who have never smoked. SMH 12/10.

A new study from the Twin Research Unit at the London Hospital involved 50 pairs of identical twins where one smoked and the other didn't. The study found that the skin of the smoking twin was on average a quarter thinner than the twin who didn't. Wrinkles occur as the skin thins. Identical twins, would age and wrinkle at the same rate unless affected by external factors. In the case of two 57 year-old-sisters, the skin of the smoker was 0.57 mm thick, while her non-smoking twin's skin was 0.91 mm. Smoking can lead to thinning of the skin and resulting wrinkling in several ways. "Smoking can affect the blood supply to the top layer of skin and that would damage it," said Dr Veronique Bataille, a dermatologist involved in the study. "Another way is that a chemical released in the skin after you smoke can release an enzyme that breaks down collagen and elastic tissue."

"The message from this research is, before you take up smoking, think whether you want to look much older than you are, and have weaker and more wrinkly skin. Doctors say they can recognise smokers' faces because they look more wrinkled and haggard," said Dr. Tim Spector.

The European Union continues to subsidise its 200,00 tobacco farmers to the tune of $US1.3 billion a year. Deaths from tobacco use are 500,000 annually. The European Commission increased health campaigns by $10 million instead of stopping the subsidies. Straits Times 5/12/96

A German group of 136 MPs composed of both the ruling centre-right coalition and the opposition Social Democratic Party proposed a bill to ban smoking in public buildings, workplaces and public transport. Straits Times 15/11/96.

Tobacco Advertising

British Rock group 'Oasis' has been criticised for making its new CD cover like a Benson and Hedges cigarette pack.

'SmokeFree' sponsored a car rally in New Zealand that was won by a Lancer with Rothmans all over it. This was supposed to be the last time, but a poster of the winner is all over NZ. New Zealand's home grown soapy on a TV station has a heavy smoker written in. The NZ film 'Broken English has the beautiful Maori lead smoke only once in the film, but this was just as she was told she was pregnant. The shot has been used in saturation promotion for the movie.

A leaked 1981 memo from Philip Morris worried that the drop in teen smoking would affect them most as they had most of the teen market, and took into account smoking rates for children as young as 12. The memo came to light months after Philip Morris had spent millions of dollars to state that it did not target teens. Burnie Advocate 22/11/96

The rush for tobacco lawsuits in the US has finally turned to the lawyers themselves. Oklahoma state has filed for damages against the law firm from Missouri, Shook, Hardy & Bacon which has represented tobacco companies since 1954. The suit accused the law firm of collaborating with the tobacco companies in concealing the health risks of smoking by allegedly stating that the documents outlining these risks were protected by attorney-client privilege. Finally, lawyers may have to consider the legal ramifications of unethical behaviour. (Straits Times, 24/8/96)

A lot of info can be accessed from the National Clearing House on Tobacco in Canada at

Cigar marketing has made much use of Linda Evangelista, Jack Nicholson, Matt Dilon, Whoopi Goldberg and Demi Moore. Cigars have US sales of $1 billion, compared to $46 for cigarettes but are growing rapidly, we regret to note.

The co-editor of Australia's first national newsletter on cigars is Tony Croke. AFR Magazine Nov 1996.

Web site: Previous 'Non Smokers' Updates' are on the Internet at


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