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 17, March-April 1997

  NSW Health Minister Rolls Over, SA Minister Rolled

The NSW Passive Smoking Task force has recommended that there should be smoke-free indoor air by 1999 in time for the Olympics. NSW Health Minister, Dr Andrew Refshauge immediately stated that there would be no blanket bans, but he would look into 'alternative solutions'. Dr Refshauge explained in his rejection, 'the Committee did not represent the community' and 'more consultation is needed'. This was in spite of the report summarising some 8 recent community surveys in NSW where the community overwhelmingly expressed its support for bans.

Refshauge's lack of concern for tobacco-caused health problems is now a legend. Given the power of the hotel and tobacco lobbies and their influence in the air conditioning area, it will need a major fight to avoid the tobacco industry's solution, which is better air conditioning.

Professor Simon Chapman of the Task Force has pointed out that the Australian Hotels Association gave $8,300 to the ALP in the last election. Dr Peter Macdonald, the Independent MP for Manly, said that he will cooperate with Fred Nile in the Upper House to introduce a bill next week to ban indoor smoking. It will be modelled on the A.C.T. one. Opposition Health spokesman Jillian Skinner said she will take a proposal to shadow cabinet for smoke-free eating but not drinking areas, which is similar to the AHA proposal .

The CEO of the Restaurant and Catering Association, Jenny Lambert said that a ban is the only way to protect the health of the State's 12,000 hospitality workers.

The 3 major hospitality groups have traditionally believed the old tobacco industry lie that smoking is bad for business, despite less publicised research showing that this is not so. But the groups need to be identified separately in terms or their traditional lobbying positions.

* The Restaurant and Catering Association represents restaurant owners. They are happy to have smoke-free air as long as everyone is equal and the hotels and clubs do not get exemptions.

* The Registered Clubs Association represent clubs are usually composed of community businessmen. They are willing to go smoke-free but are concerned that smoking rates are high in the poker machine areas and if it were banned in these and not in hotels that they would lose business to hotels.

* The Australian Hotels Association was the only group on the Passive smoking Task Force to oppose universal bans. They are still in favour of 'self regulation'.

Politically the bottom line is that Refshauge has now succeeded in wasting a year and still wants to do as little as possible on tobacco. He is a smoker in a smoky office and is out of touch. NSW must avoid the SA position of just getting a bit of extra quit money and a few platitudes. This will delay real smoke-free indoor air till next century. Clearly Refshauge is not to be trusted.

Action Point 1

Write to NSW Premier Bob Carr, expressing a lack of faith in Dr Refshauge to manage tobacco issues and demanding smoke-free indoor air legislation now - no 'phase in'. And write to your local state MP. Politicians must not be allowed to think that it is just an issue for the hospitality industry just because they do the lobbying. We must lobby NOW!

Weak South Australian Legislation Passed

The South Australian Health Minister, Dr Michael Armitage tried to introduce a smoke-free indoor air bill as part of the 'Tobacco Products Regulation Bill 1997' but was rolled in the party room on most of the substantial issues after the personal intervention of Wills Chairman and ex-NSW Liberal Premier, Nick Greiner. The Act had two elements:

* It tied the tobacco tax to tar levels in cigarettes and
* It proposed a blanket ban on smoking indoors from January 1999.

After the Minister's defeat, smoking will be allowed in drinking areas and restaurant foyers. This exemption is available for $20. Licensed premises will be able to allow smoking within 1.5 metres of eating areas provided there is air conditioning. The SA AMA President, Dr Trevor Mudge asked "What is wrong with these people? This is virtually the same situation as we have got at present".

The exemption fee was to be $200, but a Labor amendment reduced this to $20. Labor treated the whole issue as a revenue bill and styled them selves as champions of battling retailers, paying no attention to the health issues, except to ensure that the extra tax (which they had reduced) should be used for Quit programs. The tobacco industry had its databases well orchestrated with 500 faxes from retailers hitting one member's office. Health forces were less well organised.

One of the better outcomes was that there will be $2.5 million for Quit campaigns, which is the most per head of any state, but most of this will be spent educating the hospitality industry.

What Does the Liggett Decision Mean?

There has been a lot of attention to the decision by Liggetts to settle the law claims with the Attorneys-General of a number of US states that are suing the tobacco industry for the health costs that the states paid to treat tobacco-caused illness. Liggett will give 25% of its profits and also some of the material it has re how the tobacco industry covered up their knowledge and maintained a public profile that they did not know whether tobacco was harmful or not. It looks like Liggett are the good guys. But others have begged to differ. Bennett LeBow, the head of Liggett was involved in an unsuccessful take-over bid for RJR Nabisco (makers of Camel, Winston and Salem).

Liggett has only 1% of the US market and could be wiped out by a successful legal claim. On the other hand, as they do not make a profit every year, giving away 25% of their profits may not be such a great sacrifice to guarantee the 'right' to continue trading. Even now a less publicised application to the Alabama Court has asked that all private suits against Liggett should be dropped and compensated from this money. Individual smokers are not likely to get much by this route.

The response to the US giants Philip Morris and RJR Nabisco in particular is likely to be to divide their corporations and separate tobacco from all other aspects of the business. As was pointed out in the last Update', the US tobacco companies put so much money into the marginal seats in the US elections on the Republican side that instead of losing both houses as was tipped by some polls they retained control of both. The tobacco companies may all go for a settlement of 25% of their tobacco profits in exchange for immunity from further litigation. This would be happening in a favourable congressional environment for a 'once and for all' settlement.2 Then the corporations can lessen the profits of their tobacco divisions, slimming these down and paying more to their paper, packaging, transport division etc, and have a 'licence to kill' forever.

The key thing that is overlooked is that the tobacco industry has never been really beaten in the political arena. Litigation has been taken on because of the failure of the health lobby to succeed in parliaments. Now as the legal battles are beginning to be won, the industry may be able to simply get the rules changed at a parliamentary level.

It is a sad reflection on the legal system, that although everyone knew the companies were lying, it is seen to be very helpful when one of them actually admits it. One might have hoped that a legal system would able to deal with liars as well as people who confess.

So the Liggett decision is not necessarily the beginning of the end for the tobacco industry. With consumption still rising and Internet advertising just coming on stream, things do not look too bad for tobacco companies really.

Just as a Post Script...

Poor fiscal health could send the Liggett company into bankruptcy protection. It has told the US Securities and Exchange Commission that it could be out of business. The Australian, Daily Telegraph 3/4/97.

What About Australia?

The Australian situation is that Wills and Philip Morris have denied that the Australian tobacco companies knew that smoking is harmful 3 and Federal Health Minister Dr Michael Woolridge said that he did not expect to sue the tobacco companies4 . NSMA gave evidence to the Herron Senate Select Committee on the Tobacco Industry and the Cost of Tobacco-Related Illness that in the Brown and Williamson documents leaked from that US tobacco company showed that BAT (British American Tobacco), the parent company of both Brown and Williamson and Wills, had an agreement to share information on scientific studies. Later, a study showed that tobacco tar caused cancer in mice. It is therefore likely that Wills knew. Despite this, The Senate Committee report did not recommend any action, and their recommendations have been ignored in any case. The AMA has recently launched a campaign to get the Herron report implemented.

Action Point 2

Write to Federal Health Minister, Dr Michael Woolridge at Parliament House, Canberra. Ask him to implement the Herron report on 'Smoking and the Cost of Tobacco Related Illness' and to Prosecute the tobacco companies for the Health Costs they cause.

Cigarette companies have thrown almost $250,000 at federal politicians in the past year as pressure mounts over the dangers of smoking. Liberal MPs have been shouted to rock concerts, car races and operas by Philip Morris and Rothmans. Additionally Philip Morris donated $50,000 to the ALP, $45,000 to the National Party and $50,000 to the Liberals. Rothmans gave $60,000 to the Liberal Party and $25,000 to the National Party. Herald Sun, 7/4/97.

The Tasmanian Government has confirmed it does not intend to regulate environmental tobacco smoke in public places. The Advocate, p4, 27/3/97.

It Can Be Done

Canada's toughest anti-smoking law took effect on 4th March. The law prohibits smoking in all 4500 bars and restaurants in Canada's largest city. The fines are quite large. Herald Sun, 5/3/97 It can be done!

New Approach to Teen Smoking

Clean-Up Australia have developed a new strategy to get teens to quit smoking - focusing on the effect cigarettes have on the environment. Secondary schools will soon receive a kit that barely mentions lung cancer - instead it focuses on the environmental damage that butts, ash and air contaminants cigarettes cause. According to Clean-Up Australia an estimated one billion butts are flushed into stormwater drains causing huge damage to marine life. The kit also looks at the environmental impact of the production of cigarettes, from the millions of hectares of forest cleared each year for the curing of tobacco to depletion of water resources by crops. Sydney Morning Herald 28/2/97.

Setback for Tobacco Liability Suits in California

A US Federal judge dismissed a lawsuit where the City of San Francisco and 11 Californian counties which tried to recover Medicaid costs from smoking caused illnesses from the tobacco industry. Judge Jensen accepted the tobacco industry's argument that the City of San Francisco's claims of racketeering should be dismissed on the grounds that the City would have to prove that individual injuries were caused by smoking. The US Supreme Court has held that a plaintiff complaining of harm flowing from the misfortunes of a third person was too remote to cover. The chairmen of the Tobacco Products Liability Project at North-eastern University, Prof Dick Daynard called Judge Jensen's decision 'retrograde' and was hopeful that the 22 cases pending across the country would 'go the other way'. Age 1/3/97

Legal Cases

A woman who said it was part of her husband's job to smoke as a sales representative for Rothmans lost her compensation appeal in Sydney yesterday. She argued that the emphysema that claimed the life of her husband in 1982 was work related. But the court ruled that her husband had taken up smoking the RAAF in 1940 and by 1945 he was smoking 20 to 40 cigarettes a day. Canberra Times 15/3

WD & HO Wills will launch a High Court Challenge against South Australia's new excise which is graded according to the tar content. The Advertiser 25/3/97.

The family of a dead smoker will take RJ Reynolds to court next week, the first test of whether the Liggett groups confession hurts the rest of the industry. The lawsuit is in Florida and it is not certain whether the Liggett documents will be involved. Daily Telegraph, The Advertiser 8/4/97

BAT denied that it was seeking to establish a US$3 billion fund with other tobacco manufacturers both to combat and pay settlements for legal claims. Int.Herald Tribune 24/3/97.

A Canadian academic was carried struggling off an Air New Zealand plane after resisting when asked to put out a cigarette. Herald Sun 28/3/97.

Crime and Punishment

An unlicensed tobacco wholesaler who has cost the Govt $5m in State duties was fined $6000 in Adelaide. He failed to keep records of his dealings. The Advertiser 11/3/97

SA Teenagers Pay $4m in Cigarette Taxes

Teenage smokers in South Australia are paying more than $4m a year in cigarette taxes. The Anti-Cancer Foundation estimates there are now almost 23,000 young people between 12 and 17 who smoke. The Advertiser 6/3/97. This should be contrasted with the 'great triumph' of getting $2.6 million for Quit programs.

Wills Growing

Wills has restructured and shown a full-year profit of $13.3 million. Wills CEO said that Wills had been the only Australian tobacco group to gain market share and overall volume. Financial Review 6/3/97

Medical Excerpts

The Passive Smoking Taskforce noted a report in the Journal of the American Medical Assoc. from 1993 that bar workers are exposed to 4.4-6.5 times more smoke than office staff, while restaurant workers get 1.5 times more. An article in the Medical Journal of Australia in 1984 pointed out that hospitality workers have a much higher chance of getting lung and laryngeal cancer than the rest of the population.

A Tasmanian study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Medicine has shown that men who smoke are almost four times more likely than men who have never smoked to drop dead suddenly from undiagnosed heart disease. Sydney Morning Herald 24/3/97.

As part of the current debate re the poor state of Aboriginal health the ABS sample of 15,000 people aged 13 and over found 53 per cent of males and 46 per cent of females smoke. Herald Sun 26/3/97.

A Swedish report published in the Lancet studied the records of more than one million babies born in Sweden between 1983 and 1993 and found those with limb defects were more likely to have mothers who smoked during pregnancy. Sydney Morning Herald 7/3/97

According to a Swiss study, smokers who have switched to or smoke low tar cigarettes are increasingly being diagnosed with a different type of lung cancer - one that reaches deeper into the lungs. They believe that people smoking lighter cigarettes take deeper puffs. Thus low tar cigarettes apparently encourage adenocarcinoma in the outer branches of the lungs. In Switzerland, Dr Pablo Levi has found that adenocarcinoma has increased from 5.5% per 100,000 men in 1974-9 to 13.3% per 100,000 men in 1990-4. New Scientist 15/3/97.

One in five pregnant women who smoke lie about their habit when questioned by health authorities. The same study found one in five women who quit smoking in early pregnancy took it up again in the last stages of pregnancy. The survey questioned 1213 women and was done by Mary Panjari at the Royal Women's Hospital in Melbourne. Australian 19/3.

Business as Usual

In China there are problems with tobacco advertising, though tobacco advertising is theoretically banned there. Singapore Business Times 21/3/97

In India angry health workers yesterday demanded stern action against the Indian Tobacco Company for using children in an advertising campaign for a new cigarette. The Times of India 13/3/97

In the island of Manus 'Rothmans has come to the aid of the Manus Sports Council to help the development of sport on the island.' Papua New Guinea Post Courier 20/3/97.

Taiwan is to open up its tobacco and alcohol markets in line with its bid to join the World Trade Organisation. It will however try to lessen smoking. Sth China Morning Post 5/3.

Indonesia's leading cigarette maker, PT Gudang Garam, posted a 78.7% profit jump from the previous year. Bangkok Post 1/4/97

NSMA is on the Internet at

(Ed. Note: Re-worded 24/7/2004. Our list of smoke-free restaurants became redundant, given that all restaurants are now smoke free.)

Previous Updates are there, as well as some our submissions to various enquiries - Note especially the November 1994 one to the Senate. There are also many links to other non-smoking and tobacco sites world wide. Another site for leaked tobacco documents is (no longer working, 24/7/2004).

The Internet also has pro-smoking groups (surprise, surprise) including 'Jenny's Teen Smoking Home Page' with about 35 pictures of children smoking. Jenny claims to be a 17 year old lesbian who thinks smoking is sexy and is tired of being told differently. She was recently taken off the net by her provider, who had a code of conduct including not exploiting children. Up to that point, Jenny's page had had over 27,000 hits since 9/2/97. She has a new provider however (ain't free enterprise grand) and is at (Ed: This one is long gone too, 24/7/04)

It all just seems an ego trip, but the net is freedom. The best pro-smoking links are at Smoking From All Sides. Ed Note: This is the latest url, working on 24/7/2004.

Smokes Lay Claim to the Internet

Alcohol and tobacco companies are aggressively focusing on children and teenagers in their Internet marketing campaigns. A new study from Washington's Centre for Media Education found many alcohol and tobacco companies were using advertising techniques such as interactive games which appealed to young people. Herald Sun 24/3/97

A recent Sydney conference heard that RJR Nabisco has a Camel site in Germany, which is thought to be there so as to evade any US laws which might try to censor the Internet.

A recent US court decision held that the Internet was not regulated by the same law as other electronic media. West Australian 25/3/97.


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This page was last updated on 7th August, 2012.
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