|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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Issue 23, March-April 1998
NSMA Proves SRA do not enforce rules
NSMA staff took a television crew from the Channel Seven "This Day Tonight" program to Central Railway Station on 4 February 1998 to demonstrate that SRA management have no intention of enforcing the existing regulations banning smoking on all enclosed or covered areas of railway property. The program showed passengers smoking at will under the covered areas of platform 16. When challenged by Brian McBride that they were breaking the rules most smokers seemed unaware of the rules. One aggressive smoker said he would not stop unless instructed to do so by railway staff. When the platform supervisor "Stan" was called he declined to give such instruction and said smoking was OK on the platform area. It was admitted that the supervisor was also a smoker and he went to great pains to point out how stressful the job was and how it was necessary for him to smoke on duty. He was observed to be smoking but had perfected the art of inverting the lighted cigarette inside his closed hand so that it was not readily seen.
Station Master No Help
When the Station Master was called to clarify whether staff and passengers were allowed to smoke he simply went into damage control mode and ordered Brian and the camera crew to leave the station. He refused to clarify anything or to be filmed and placed his hand over the camera lens in the time honoured fashion of guilty people who cannot justify their position. Of course the tell-tale cigarette packet could be seen in his top pocket so there was little doubt about what motivated his uncooperative behaviour. The six minute segment screened that evening proved convincingly that the SRA management even at Station-master level are resisting the policy directive that staff shall not smoke on duty and that passengers must not smoke in covered areas.
Uphill Legal Battle
Where do we go from here? So far the legal advice on the chances of making a "Class Action" stick has not been encouraging for several reasons. Firstly NSW law lags behind other States and Federal laws in defining what constitutes a "class" of people for the purposes of pursuing joint legal action. Secondly, the written directives outlining the no smoking policies have been carefully worded by SRA lawyers to show that the SRA are doing all the right things! In short the have given boiler plate protection to the backsides of SRA bureaucrats while leaving their travelling public fending for themselves as best they can. Never the less we have not given up and are still trying to develop the best legal options. At the very least there is every possibility of a Trade Practices action against the Minister for false and misleading media statements. He can't have it both ways.
Minister Presides Over Sham
The Transport Minister Carl Scully should be ashamed to preside over such a sham. His Parliamentary Secretary, Kevin Moss, was made to look stupid also when he was forced to reverse his statements to the media inside 24 hours. First he said smoking was allowed under covered areas then someone enlightened him and he reversed his stand. The fact is the SRA is run from the bottom not from the top. What is more, any non smoker in the lower ranks who feels like complaining about the "Clayton's smoke-free workplace" policy is soon sent to Coventry by the smokers who are determined there will be no change. Just ask train driver Stephen Maher and other staff about the futility of complaining to middle management.
UNION SUPPORTS THE SHAM
The smokers are solidly backed by their Public Transport Union to ensure there is no change in the "smoke anywhere anytime" policy. In fact when we tried to place a paid advertisement in their union journal offering to help employees suffering smoke pollution in their workplace the PTU Secretary, Mr Nick Leuwicki, flatly refused to accept the ad on the spurious grounds that none of his members needed any outside help with occupational health problems because his union looks after them so well! Compare that with the actions of another SRA driver who resigned from the SRA Occupational Health Committee after three years of frustration over no action on the smoking issue.
Action Point 1
Write to Transport Minister Carl Scully and ask him if he condones the "Sham policy" demonstrated on the Channel Seven TDT program on 4/2/98? Send to: Parliament House, Macquarie Street. SYDNEY 2000
CONGRATULATIONS STEPHEN !
I'm sure I speak for the majority of our members when I congratulate Stephen Maher for standing up for his rights to a smoke-free workplace even when his frustration lands him in court. Stephen is a driver who is expected to get into a the confined space of the driver's cabin which stinks from the previous occupants hours of smoking on the job. When he goes to the crewing managers office to ask for the cabin to be cleaned or to ask for delay or re-assignment he is treated as the trouble maker and the cause of the problem. He will have to fight his way through the blue haze of cigarette smoke from all the smoking staff standing around the signing on room. The incident which landed Stephen in court involved an alleged attempt to knock the cigarette out of the hand of a smoker who should not have been smoking there anyway. Unfortunately he was charged and convicted of assault but with no conviction recorded under Section 556A. It is so frustrating for non-smokers that management ignore their complaints but as soon as a smoker complains it gets immediate priority and full legal action is taken. The good news is that Stephen remains determined to fight on so we have assured him we will do everything we can to force some changes to SRA's hypocritical policies.
SRA Management Ineffectual
Back in 1996 the Auditor General published a report showing the State Rail Authority had been "ineffectual in pursuing complaints, had discouraged reporting and had ostracised whistleblowers". This was when the current "Minister for Travel Rorts", Brian Langton, was the Transport Minister, but it seems nothing has changed in two years. No wonder David Hill could not stand more than a temporary six months back in this muddled bureaucratic monster.
OLYMPIC SMOKER'S SPECIAL
Not only does SRA not have smoke-free workplaces but they are quite happy to advertise the fact. The photo reproduced here is from the March 1998 State Rail magazine issue on the Olympic Train Special trial runs. It clearly shows a blue packet of Horizons cigarettes with a yellow cigarette lighter on the control console in the train driver's cabin. Of course the driver would not be smoking while driving passengers to the "Smoke-free Olympics" because the Minister says he has a smoke-free workplace - and Ministers are never wrong! The SRA awarded themselves a Gold Medal for these trials. We would give them the "foot-in-mouth" award for sloppy public relations.
LIBERALS ACCEPT TOBACCO FAVOURS
NSMA President, Dr Arthur Chesterfield-Evans, put out a strongly worded press release condemning the disgraceful sponsorship of the Liberal Party National Convention Dinner in Brisbane on 9 March by Philip Morris. In follow-up radio interviews he said we are very angry that the Liberal Party is accepting favours from tobacco companies while smoking rates among Australian children are still rising. The revelations that tobacco company executives have lied for years about their knowledge of tobacco caused death and disease are coming daily from the USA. Yet local Liberal Party politicians seem prepared to collaborate with them and to sell the health of the next generation of Australians for the price of a good feed. The relationship between the Liberal Party and the tobacco industry is a very unhealthy one for Australia, he said.
SACK NICK GREINER FROM SOCOG
NSMA has written to the Olympics Minister and Chairman of SOCOG, Mr Michael Knight, demanding that Nick Greiner be sacked as a member of the Board. We have pointed out that SOCOG lacks credibility for organising a "Smoke-free Olympics" when the chairman of a major tobacco company sits on the Board. What is even more worrying in view of the recent clear evidence that the Liberal Party is doing favours for the tobacco industry is that ex-liberal Premier Greiner is perfectly placed to lobby for the tobacco industry and to pull all the right strings. The Games are supposed to be a role model on promoting good health as a foundation objective for the youth of all the world but particularly the third world countries where Greiner and his ilk are doing such unconscionable damage.
We also support the challenge issued by the other Board member, Graham Richardson, that if liberal Greiner resigns he will also resign as a perceived labor appointee and thus de-politicise the Board in the run up to the State elections next year. However these resignations are unlikely to be offered so Minister Knight should act decisively to show real support for integrity in Olympic administration. NSMA will consider plans to embarrass him during the forthcoming visit of Mr Samaranch and the IOC Committee if the Minister does not act on this important matter.
Action Point 2
Write in or fax (9267 4393) your willingness to participate in a "Sack Greiner" protest.
BORBIDGE SUPPORTS TOBACCO
Queensland Premier Borbidge has been rightly attacked for wearing a jacket emblazoned with the tobacco sponsor Philip Morris advertising. Mr Borbidge showed off his true understanding of the state's health problems when he strutted the stage at the victory ceremony for Carrie Webb at the Australian Ladies Masters Golf in January. The sooner Mr Borbidge gets thrown out of office so that he can take a formal position on the tobacco industry payroll like Nickoteen Greiner the better for all concerned. The Australian followed up with a report on 4/3/98 " that Premier Rob Borbidge was spotted yesterday wearing a Dunhill tie". This shows he is very even handed - it does not have to be the best - any tobacco company will do! Perhaps a strong injection of incompetent ex-politicians is just what is needed to bring the tobacco industry to its knees.
Action Point 3
Write to Premier Borbidge and thank him for his positive role model for Australia's youth.
Jeff Kennett completed the trifecta for liberal politicians (along with mates Nick and Rob) with his courageous support for that other tobacco advertising extravaganza called the Melbourne Grand Prix. This was held on 8 February 1998 with 20 of the 22 "competing" Formula One cars carrying tobacco advertising. The Age newspaper even decided the event needed promotion with a big wraparound issue for the Aust Grand Prix . It featured a major front page photograph of the car with Winfield sponsorship on it. So much for the print ban on tobacco advertising! The TV coverage was also a spectacular advertising success with hours of tobacco logos and names flashing across the screens.
The tobacco industry sponsorship is said to be worth $450m but of course this is only to entice mature smokers to change brands it has nothing to do with promoting smoking amongst young people. The boss of FIA racing, Mr Max Mosely, took every media opportunity to piously announce that the FIA would ban tobacco advertising if they were given "proof" that such advertising caused people to take up smoking.
To their credit the Australian media gave him a hard time explaining why it would take until 2002 to stop this advertising if he was given "proof" today. Health Minister, Michael Wooldridge, said the proof existed now and there was no need for the delay. NSMA spokesman, Brian McBride, also pointed out in radio interviews that the 15 EC countries had already signed an Agreement to end such advertising by 2004, so Mr Mosely does not seem to be giving much away. Indeed it seems like a rather pathetic attempt to make out that F1 racing is run by real caring people rather than hard nosed business people who will take dollars from any source including the world's foremost dealers in death and disease.
Anti-smoking and anti-Grand Prix protest
About the only good news from Victoria came from some reports which said a group of "Save Albert Park" protesters tried to break into the Grand Prix circuit near Middle Park train station. They handed out anti-smoking messages to remind people of the link between cigarette sponsorship, the Grand Prix, and the health damage to the nation.
SOME MORE GOOD NEWS IN QLD
Legislation was passed in the Queensland parliament raising the legal age for children to buy cigarettes from 16 to 18. The Courier Mail, 4/3/98, reported that shop owners who sell cigarettes to minors could face $2000 fines after Gladstone Independent, Liz Cunningham forced the State Govt into an embarrassing back-down on tobacco laws. Under amendments to Queensland's new tobacco laws, chain stores and shop owners selling to people under 18 will be fined $975 for the first offence and $1950 for the second.
Mr Carr please take note.
SMOKING IN FLATS AND UNITS
Regular complaints are being received from owners and tenants about smoke pollution of their properties by their smoking neighbours. Most say that their direct complaints to the offenders are ignored or worse they are abused. Approaches to councils or Government bodies including Community Justice Centres likewise achieve lots of sympathy but no tangible solutions. Most of these bodies refer people to us as the only hope of some action. We were particularly moved by the case of a young mother who could not open her bedroom windows to give her new baby some healthy fresh air because the room was immediately filled with cigarette fumes. This is a disgraceful demonstration of the presumed rights of smokers to inflict their dirty habits on everyone around them.
The problem will be difficult from a legal point of view because the smokers are usually in their own premises or their immediate surrounds. However we are trying to develop a case against the smokers and/or their corporate bodies based on the common law principle of negligence and nuisance due to their failure to contain the offensive materials within their own borders. If you know of anyone experiencing this problem please put them in touch with us.
WILLS LIGHTS UP WITH $58M PROFIT
The tobacco group WD & HO Wills has shrugged off the poor image of the industry and constant price discounting to post a net profit after abnormals of $58.4m for the year to December, more than four times the previous year's $13.2 m. Wills shares rose yesterday with the news. Daily Telegraph 4/3/98
Editor's comment. It seems their recent fine of $250,000 for attempted price fixing will be treated as a minor set-back easily funded out of petty cash!
NO IFS BUT PLENTY OF BUTTS
Millions of dollars spent on lavish anti-smoking campaigns have not stopped young people lighting up but they are beginning to make them feel guilty about the habit. A new research project predicts that another decade of intensive education campaigns could persuade them to butt out forever. The Young People and Smoking project, run by the WA Health Promotion and Evaluation Unit surveyed more than 7000 12 to 16 year old before and after a campaign involving television advertisements and school and community programs.
The Australian, 5/3/98
FIGHTING WORDS FROM ANOTHER LIBERAL HEAVYWEIGHT!
Businessman and Carlton Football Club President, John Elliott, appeared on Melbourne TV on 4/3/98 to say he is ready to fight the move to make 70% of the Melbourne Cricket Ground smoke free. He says it is typical of Australia`s insular attitude to smoking and civil liberties. We understand that he intends to form another "Smoker's Rights" group. We have seen many such groups of overweight, beer swilling chain smokers telling us that if we don't like their smoke we should go somewhere else! We have got news for you, Mr Elliott, we are not going anywhere - you are!
SMOKE POLLUTION IN SHOPPING CENTRES
One of the ironies of the progressive move to ban smoking in major shopping malls is that the there is increased smoke pollution in the coffee shops. It seems that all the smoking employees of the major stores cannot smoke in the general areas so they all congregate in the coffee shops for their regular fix of nicotine. Many shoppers have complained to us that whereas under the old system they could occasionally find an uncrowded coffee shop with minor smoke pollution they now have to put up with crowded and heavily polluted conditions. There are also reports of sabotage by smokers moving the no-smoking signs in the arcade areas of these malls to put them out of sight behind pillars or into passageways. Please send in any details of such problems to us and we will start taking up the issue of more complete bans with the major stores who set the rules in these locations.
CANBERRA ASH REPORTS
Our colleagues in the ACT have issued a Questionnaire to all candidates in the recent elections and have analysed the returns together with the final election results. President Dr Alan Shroot said there are strong grounds for optimism about further tobacco control measures following the outcome of the election in February. He was pleased with statements supporting an Assembly Committee making its start from the contents of the Herron Report.
For further information contact Alan on 02 6257 3853 or fax 02 6247 1022.
The USA has changed its laws regarding nicotine patches and pregnancy. A report published in Australian Doctor 13/9/97, said the FDA allows doctors to prescribe patches because they are safer than smoking. However that is not the case in Australia where they are still not allowed for pregnant women.
We repeat the important advice that NSMA has an Internet site Home Page at www.nsma.org.au. This is loaded with useful information including all issues of this UPDATE newsletter and submissions made to various tobacco related enquiries. The Fact Sheets are a very good resource for students so you should spread the word at every opportunity.
We are also trying to create an up to date directory of smoke-free
restaurants so please send in your contributions.
The latest one in the Hills area to move away from the magic line
50/50 system and go totally smoke-free is the Baulkham Hills Sporting
and Recreation Club in Renown Road.
Dr Arthur Chesterfield-Evans has resigned as Editor of the UPDATE due to increasing commitments including taking a seat in the State Upper House later this year. Vice President Brian McBride has taken over as Editor for the moment and takes responsibility for content of this newsletter. Any suggestions or contributions for future issues are invited and should be sent to Brian at the address shown on our cover page.
|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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