|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 4, January 1995
WA Prosecutions Enforce Child Access Laws
Western Australia is enforcing its teen access laws with prosecutions and out of court settlements that really get the message to retailers that selling cigarettes to children is not on. There have been 21 prosecutions, some of which were settled out of court. The largest fine of $2,430 was for Bevan Heal of Inglewood, who was fined both as an individual and as director of the company that sold to a 15 year old Two others, Phong Nguyen of Gosnells and Neville Johnson of Geraldton were each fined over $1,500 for selling to 12 year olds. Other fines were less than these but were not insubstantial.
NSW Teen Access Bill Dies
The NSW Teen Access Bill ran out of time, when the NSW Parliament rose at the end of its 1994 session. Many groups had been urging the Health Minister, Ron Phillips to bring in a bill, as the current practices make prosecution difficult and a survey had shown that children as young as 12 years could buy cigarettes easily. 'Proof of Age' cards which are used (and forged) for kids in hotels were to be used to stop children purchasing cigarettes. However Minister Phillips did not introduce a bill. In the Parliament, where the Independents had the balance of power, Shadow Health Minister Andrew Refshague introduced a 'grandstanding' bill, which doubled the fine (again), though there had been no prosecutions. But the Manly Independent, Dr Peter Macdonald, helped by Anne Jones of ASH made a number of amendments to put together what would have been an effective package. Macdonald kept in touch with Minister Phillips in an attempt to get bipartisan support for the bill. He did not succeed. The bill got through the lower house because of Labor and the Independents, but was not put on the list for Upper House business so has lapsed. The control of house business is in the hands of the government whip, so effectively the Liberals killed the bill, presumably because they did not want the Labor Shadow Health Minister to get the credit for it. Politics 1: Kids 0.
RCA Changes its Indoor Air Policy
The Restaurant and Catering Association has changed its policy and has asked that governments bring in smoke-free indoor air legislation. This is a marked change from its previous 'self-regulation' policy.
(Congratulations to members who wrote to them).
Mandela Speaks Against Tobacco
South African President Nelson Mandela has spoken out against tobacco sponsorship, but it is not yet clear whether the tobacco sponsored golf will go ahead, despite the ANC policy against tobacco. (Congratulations to members who wrote to the South African Ambassador).
The Reason for No Action in NSW?
Photograph not shown, but caption was: NSW Premier, John Fahey smoking at a Cabinet meeting in Nowra. Photo- John Rankin, South Coast Register
NSW elections are on 25th March. Certainly the record of the major parties is disappointing. Either one of them could have supported Dr Peter Macdonald, the Manly Independent MP's bill to get Smokefree indoor air legislation, but both chose not to do so. Members are asked to ask candidates specifically on this issue and not to vote for 'candidates who give evasive answers or who say they will stick to party policy', as in the case of the major parties, this means a whole lot of platitudes and do nothing. Democrats, Greens and most independents are anti-tobacco. (Dr Chesterfield-Evans is standing as a Australian Democrat candidate).
Action Point 1
NSW Members should contact their local State election candidates and ask their policy on Smokefree indoor air legislation, and vote for candidates who take a strong line.
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News In Brief
Dr Nigel Gray, head of the Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria has announced that he will retire at the end of 1995.
The head of the Medical Benefits Fund (MBF) in Tasmania, Derris Gillam, has hit out at the Tasmanian Liberal Government for doing so little on child smoking uptake. He said that the government had done more to protect fish stock than children's health and allocated only $200,000 out of $60 million received in tobacco taxes. Tasmania has the highest smoking rate in Australia and the laxest laws. (Hobart Mercury 19/12/94).
Thirteen Health bodies have asked Federal Health minister, Dr Carmen Lawrence for a rise in Federal Tobacco tax of 7.5% in August 1995, 2.5% in February 1996, and 7.5% a year thereafter. It also calls for a change in the way taxes are calculated to counteract the trend to lighter cigarettes.
The ex-president of the WA Liberal Party has made a freedom of information request for sensitive health data on the results of the Quit campaign. This has caused a furore as Mr Hassell was appointed WA's Agent-General in London by Premier Richard Court. The opposition has criticised the appointment as 'jobs for the boys' and stated that Hassell worked as a paid lobbyist for tobacco companies. The Health Dept has been defending the confidentiality of the documents. West. Australian 21-2/12/94
New York City approved bans on smoking in restaurants and most public places, despite protests from the tobacco and restaurant industries. Gallup polls showed 25% of people would be more likely to eat out, 12% less likely and 62% unaffected. Smoking is only allowed in restaurants smaller than 35 patrons or where a bar is separated by a wall or a distance of more than 6 feet.
BAT in the US has expanded its share of the US tobacco market from 11% to 17% by buying American Brands in a $US1 Billion deal. Asian Wall St. Journal 23/12/94.
US Election Results Disastrous
The US election results were a disaster for the non-smoking cause. Republican conservatives, helped by the tobacco and gun lobbies now have a majority. Congressman Mike Synar, a young, enthusiastic Democrat, who was involved with Henry Waxman in the investigation into the tobacco industry lost his preselection, though the Democrats retained the seat. The tobacco and gun lobbies painted him as a 'liberal', which translates into not being tough on crime or being too pro-welfare. Arch conservative Jesse Helms of North Carolina, who leads the pro-tobacco forces in Congress is head of the US Foreign Relations Committee. He is likely to continue his efforts to force countries to accept US cigarettes as a price of access to US markets for other goods and for US support in the World Trade Organisation. If countries do not let US tobacco in, the US accuses them of restricting trade. The multinational tobacco companies are also much more aggressive marketers of tobacco products, so real harm will be done to world health by this US administration.
New Packaging Laws
New laws on tobacco packaging came into effect on 1st January. There are larger and detailed warnings, taking up the top third of the pack, and in specified colours so that they cannot be camouflaged into the packet design. The Financial Review ran an article that could have been written by the industry, that told of the hard luck story of the cigarette importers who would no longer find it economic to import such small quantities. Two points need to be made. These warnings were delayed 18 months by the loss of unanimity by the Premiers, after changes of government especially Jeff Kennett in Victoria, and they were imposed by ex-Federal Health Minister Graham Richardson.
They have been grossly delayed anyway. The Health Ministers' Conference in 1984 promised to do this, but failed in their respective cabinets. As to the argument that the packaging is a problem, it might be noted that only a few percent of Australia's cigarettes are imported. There are 3 companies but about 120 brands. New brands or types (Ultra-Vile etc) are coming and going all the time. Just after the tobacco companies lobbied to delay a warning on these grounds a Qantas passenger noted a packet with no health warnings and the caption 'Specially packed for Qantas'. Clearly they can do tiny packet runs when it suits them.
NSMA at Tobacco Inquiry in February
Dr Chesterfield-Evans and Liesel Scholem will give evidence on behalf of NSMA to the Senate Inquiry into the tobacco industry . The submission calls for action including generic packaging, ad bans, smoke-free indoor air, tax increases, stronger child access laws, more money on health promotion and suing the tobacco companies for the cost of smoking caused diseases.
Poor Amendments to the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act
The Federal Health Minister, Carmen Lawrence has proposed the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Amendment Act 1994. The reason for this is twofold. The High Court has ruled that there is an implied freedom of speech in the Australian Constitution. There is possibility that this decision may make the original Act vulnerable, and Philip Morris is currently challenging the Act in the High Court. Also Philip Morris made great play in the media of the fact that they were allegedly unable to advertise to recall faulty lighters. This was used to make out that the tobacco industry is a poor, downtrodden mob who are not able to get vital messages across even when they need to. A more cynical explanation is that if the papers would not carry the ads recalling the cigarette lighters, it was because they were so used to non-cigarette ads being used to advertise cigarettes that they automatically said 'no'.
Be that as it may, the suggested changes guarantee the tobacco companies the right to run ads on 'political views or public conduct relating to activities that have become the subject of political debate', or 'the actions or policies of proposed acts or policies of any government in Australia'.
What is likely to happen is that the tobacco companies will be able to spend a fortune on advocacy ads attacking smoking restrictions in indoor public places and claiming that either common-sense and courtesy will fix it or that air conditioning will.
Overall, the worry is that these amendments do not address this problem and perhaps could not do so, but neither do they tackle the 'gifts' that are given away with cigarettes in special offers, nor do they attack the problem of product placement in films which now seems to involve modifying the scripting of films to make smoking more exciting. In short the amendments are good for the tobacco industry, but not much use to the health forces, except possibly to stop a loss in the High Court.
The amendments also allow tobacco advertising on Qantas international flights, as they only ban ads on flights that start and end in Australia. An alternative would be to ban ads on aircraft registered in Australia.
Action Point 2
Write to Dr Carmen Lawrence at Parliament House Canberra 2600, and ask that the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Amendment Act 1994 be used to tighten loopholes, bring in generic packaging and that advertising in aircraft registered in Australia be prohibited. Also mention that national Smoke-F ree air legislation is needed now! It exists in ACT and has been suggested in WA and NSW.
Advertising Bans- the Situation
Many requests come to the office for information on advertising, as the billboards are still there long after all the publicity about their removal. The situation is that billboard advertising is banned in WA, Victoria and South Australia. In NSW all billboards up to 6 sheets (3x1.5m) are banned from last September. All 6 to 24 sheet (6x3m), the classic ones in service stations, will be banned from 31st March and all big ones from 26th September. All bunting, awnings and shop window advertising should have been gone from either 1992 or January 1993.
Action Point 3
If there is advertising, write and complain to your State Health Dept as some will only enforce it when it is pointed out. Info: Anne Jones at ASH (02) 334-1876
NSMA At the Paris Conference
There have been a number of enquiries as to what Dr Chesterfield-Evans said in Paris. He gave two papers, one on 'How to Run a Non-Smoking Radio Programme', and one on 'Rhetoric and Progress in Non-Smoking' which urged that progress should be measured by how much consumption falls in each country. He urged that objective figures should be complied before the next conference and that keynote speakers be chosen from countries that have achieved the best falls, rather than the speakers being chosen by how many papers they have written in medical journals.
Puff Off can be heard in Sydney at 12.45 pm on Wednesdays on 2SER-FM on 107.5. Peopel wanting tapes for their local radio-station contact NSMA.
Dr Chesterfield-Evans trip to Paris was financed in part by a grant from the NSW Health Dept, as part of their programme of helping non-government organisations.
Passive Smoking Does Kill - A Personal Perspective, by Sue Meeuwissen. Sue was born 32 years ago with Cystic Fibrosis, a disorder of secretory glands which results in secretion of thick mucous. This results in recurrent lung infections and impairs digestion, with most sufferers dying in childhood or adolescence. It is the commonest inherited disease in Caucasian society. All her childhood friends are dead, but Sue is a tremendous survivor. She tells of her lungs bleeding after exposure to ever decreasing amounts of tobacco smoke. She lived for years on oxygen, until finally given a double lung transplant in 1994, which has given her new hope. She attributes her survival to the fact that her parents did not smoke, and that she avoided hospital whenever possible, as they had poor enforcement of smoke-free policies there.
This 14 page booklet that tells of considerable courage and what passive smoking can do. Sue spoke in Paris and can be reached through :Cystic Fibrosis Assoc. 4 Dequettville Tce, Kent Town 5067, Ph (08) 362-9863.
Modest Targets in Health Strategy 'Better Health Outcomes for Australians - National Goals, Targets and Strategies for Better Health Outcomes into Next Century', a new book from the Commonwealth Department of Human Services and Health sets fairly modest targets for tobacco and repeats some of the 1991 National Health Policy on Tobacco. It aims for only a fall in smoking prevalence to 20% of adults by 2000. Similarly it speaks of generic packaging and smoke-free indoor air (with exemptions!) by 2000. These modest goals were read by Carmen Lawrence. Her department seems very conservative at present with regards to tobacco (if the departmental submission to the Senate Committee is any guide) so it seems that stronger lobbying is needed.
A pamphlet on the ACT Smoke-free Areas (Enclosed Public Places Act) 1994 is available on (06) 205-4555.
Alcohol and other Drug Use in ethnic communities are a series of leaflets for use by health workers.
A comparison of Secondary School Students Drug Users in NSW and Victoria. is a small booklet which shows that Victorian students start smoking earlier and slightly more of them had ever used tobacco.
A Comparison of 'Patterns of Drug Use: Australia and the USA' shows that we smoke much the same as the US, though in Australia women smoke more than men. We also drink more alcohol, but use less of other drugs.
The three resources above are available from the National Drug and Alcohol Statistics Unit, Drugs of Dependence Branch, Dept of Human Services & Health, GPO Box 9848 Canberra 2601 (06) 289-8666, fax 289-8456
Bringing the Nicotine Cartel to Justice
This was the title of the 10th Annual Conference of the Tobacco Products Liability project held in Boston, Massachusetts on December 2-4 1994. The conference was supported by a grant from the Centre for Disease Control. Papers were presented and leaked documents released that showed what the tobacco companies knew and when. The leaked documents allegedly came from an employee in a legal firm, Merrell Williams. The documents showed that the tobacco industry was aware that nicotine is addictive and that painting mice with tobacco extracts causes cancer. The mouse painting experiments 'Project Janus' involved a special building with 30 staff and produced over 20 scientific reports to Brown and Williamson tobacco (B&W). B&W was purchased by British American Tobacco (BAT) in 1927 and the two agreed to pool their research efforts. Since 1962 BAT has held annual research conferences for affiliated companies which B&W attended. In 1985 a senior lawyer marked the Janus reports for removal and asked that no records or memos of their existence be kept. The tobacco industry has tried to stop dissemination of the documents but it seems they have failed.
Further evidence for the idea that the tobacco companies regulated nicotine levels is found in the patents of process to manipulate nicotine levels by tobacco companies. An example is US Patent No. 5,065,775, which describes how to adjust the pH and mix with CFCs to concentrate nicotine from 2.3% to 5.2%. There were also ads in tobacco industry journals offering to help the industry regulate their levels. These were in the testimony of Dr David Kessler, head of the US Federal Drug Administration to the Congressional Committee.
The evidence of the tobacco industry's knowledge has relevance in Australia as BAT markets Benson and Hedges, Horizon, Sadbroke and a number of other brands.
Conference papers are available from the Tobacco Products Liability Project, School of Law, Northeastern University, 400 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115, fax (617)- 373-3672. 1,000 pages of the 'Merrel Williams' documents are also available for $US 125 + postage.
A group of 60 lawyers, calling themselves 'The Equalisers' have funded themselves for $US5 million and are trying to use this information to take on the tobacco companies on behalf of smokers. (SMHerald 15/12/94)
A US Congressman, Martin Meehan has asked the US Attorney-General, Janet Reno to investigate possible perjury charges to top tobacco executives because of their testimony to the US Congressional Committee that tobacco was not addictive. (Adelaide Advertiser 15/12/94)
Dear Sir, Your recent item "smoking increases is kids films is appropriate, especially as it follows closely after Simon Chapman's item on disguised cigarette promotion through feature films generally. Chapman, like the author of your news item cited a number of recent films, but neither of you commented on the currently popular 'The Client' which starts with a little boy sneaking off into the bush to introduce his smaller brother to cigarettes. Late in the films we see such gems as the boy smoking again with the help of his lawyer (one of the strong and independent film heroines who, we presume is meant to be humanised when as a declared ex-smoker, she relents to keep her young client company). The supreme irony, no doubt unintended, comes at the very end. As the usual long list of credits rolls by, we see a common disclaimer to the effect that any animals in the film were handled according to humane guidelines and were in no way mistreated. There did not seem to be any such disclaimer regarding under age smokers. Yours sincerely, Dr Malcolm Lawrie, Woollahra.
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Our Address is: Non-Smokers' Movement of Australia, Box K860, Haymarket NSW 1240.
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