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 5, March 1995


NSMA Calls for Action by Senate Inquiry

The Non-Smokers Movement called for action at the Senate Inquiry into the Tobacco Industry and the Cost of Tobacco-Related illness in Sydney on February 10th. The Inquiry which got little publicity in Sydney, was held at the NSW Parliament.

NSMA was represented by Liesel Scholem and Dr Chesterfield-Evans. They followed two tobacco industry submissions. The tobacco industry followed its usual 'tightrope policy'. This is to state that they do not know whether tobacco is harmful or not. David Chapman of Wills tobacco was willing to concede that it was 'a risk factor'. They, however claimed that everyone believed it was harmful. (The art of the tightrope policy, for anyone who is unaware is that they do not know that it is harmful so cannot be accused of knowingly selling a dangerous product, but because everyone else knows about it being harmful they cannot sue for damages).

The tone and content of the tobacco industry submissions was similar to those of the US Congressional hearings. However, the Australian Senators were far more tolerant and polite to the industry than their US counterparts. The tone of the hearing during the tobacco companies submissions was polite and dispassionate. The most outrageous aspects of their submissions were received in a most genteel fashion.

NSMA's submission entitled 'A Time for Action' put the tobacco industry into an historical perspective, explaining that this was not some heroic tradition, but a deliberately created epidemic peculiar to this century. It also explained how the various compounds in tobacco caused the myriad of diseases attributed to tobacco. It catalogued the possible ways the tobacco industry could have been countered and the failure of the regulatory agencies and governments to act in the 45 years since smoking was shown to cause lung cancer. Finally it proposed a plan for action against the industry. The oral submissions were to highlight areas rather than repeat the written submissions.

Liesel Scholem, who successfully sued the NSW Health Department in 1992 for damages due to passive smoking, spoke about the harm that passive smoking does, and said that no none had the right to expose people to passive smoking and that the government needed to act to protest the public.

Dr Chesterfield-Evans told stories of his experience with tobacco- caused illness. He tried to add a note of urgency to the proceedings, and accused the tobacco industry of perjury as he had documents from the USA which showed that Brown and Williamson tobacco had done experiments painting rats with tar and showing that this caused the rats to get cancer. These experiments, known as the Janus experiments had occurred in 1967-70 in Germany. Brown and Williamson had been bought by British-American Tobacco (BAT) in 1927, and from 1962 all BAT subsidiaries had met annually to get the latest information on tobacco and health. It was therefore likely that W.D. and H.O. Wills in Australia, which had had BAT as a major shareholder would have been party to these discussions. Dr Chesterfield-Evans therefore made a plea that the Committee investigate the industry, as the groups giving evidence did not have the resources to do so.

Prior to the hearing, Bob McComas, Chairman of Wills had demanded a retraction of some of the NSMA submission, which had pointed out that he had gone from being the corporate solicitor of Amatil, to being Chairman of the Trade Practices Commission where he had investigated tobacco advertising, and that he had then returned to be Chairman of the tobacco company. McComas protested that he had had a period in private practice as a solicitor between his work at Amatil and his job at the Trade Practices Commission, and another period in private practice before going on the Board of W.D and H.O. Wills tobacco. He also pointed out that as Amatil had split into Coca-Cola -Amatil and W. D. and H.O. Wills, he was not returning to the same company.

Dr Chesterfield-Evans, author of the NSMA submission was pleased to concede the technicalities. At the time the Australian Federation of Consumer Organisations had protested that McComas should have disqualified himself from matters involving tobacco, but he had conducted the hearings. The McComas protest was taken by NSMA to have been a 'we are watching you, and are willing to sue' message.

Lawsuits against people active against the tobacco industry are now a routine tactic by the tobacco industry. Steve Woodward of ASH Australia had 14 suits against him, and many US activists are served with writs. It is felt that this is to intimidate tobacco's opponents. NSMA is determined not to be intimidated.

Health Groups Submissions to Senate Inquiry

A number of other health groups also made submissions to the Senate Inquiry. Anne Jones of ASH made a submission on child smoking, and asked for a comprehensive approach to get rid of smoking in Australia. The Australian Council on Smoking and Health submission was that since the tobacco industry's profit in 1992-3 was $108 million and 19,000 people died, the Industry was making $5,700 per death. It called for civil action against the Industry to recoup the losses.

The National Heart Foundation's Professor Konrad Jamrosik likened the tobacco toll to genocide from the Nazi holocaust, while Professor Simon Chapman said that tobacco should be regulated like liquor or pharmaceuticals.

Amendments to Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act Passed

The amendments to the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition act, that were discussed in the last Update have been passed. This is thought to make the chance of a successful challenge to the Act by Philip Morris under the constitutional right to free speech. It will, however guarantee their right to political advocacy ads on passive smoking and the like , and make it more difficult for this to be challenged under the Trade Practices Act as 'misleading or deceptive conduct', which is what the Tobacco Institute was prosecuted under in the past. No other industry needs its own amendments to avoid the Trade Practices Act.

Woolridge Unclear on Tobacco Sponsorship

The new Federal Opposition Health Spokesman, Dr Michael Woolridge said that he supported the governments 'anti-tobacco stand' but said it was too early to say if he was in favour of having tobacco advertising at the Melbourne Formula 1 Grand Prix. Not a great effort for a medical doctor! Melbourne Herald-Sun 2/2/95.

Smoke-Free Restaurants for WA?

The previous Health Minister, Peter Foss suggested a change to the Public Health regulations to bring in limited Smoke-Free Restaurants in Western Australia. The change to the Health Act 1911 is called the Health (Food Hygiene) Amendment Regulations 1995. It states that a person must not smoke or use tobacco or other similar preparation in any place where food is prepared or served to people seated at tables. The restaurateur must post signs to this effect, and direct any person smoking to cease. If the person does not comply, the smoker commits the offence.

Areas that are exempt are outside areas or non-enclosed external areas. It seems that the vestibule of restaurants will not necessarily be smoke-free, so the regulation needs tightening. The text of the regulation can be obtained from the Health Promotions Branch, Department of Western Australia , Ground Fl, C Block, 189 Royal St., East Perth WA 6004, ph (09) 222-2031, fax 222-2088. Submission to Mr Brian Wall., A/General Manager of Public Health, Health Dept of WA,

The WA Hotels and Hospitality Association attacked the proposed ban saying, that hoteliers could stop selling food. The WA branch of the Restaurant and Caterers Association said that the regulations would force restaurants into the streets with a lean-to outside for second class citizens.

While this 'end of the world' nonsense might be considered amusing. the ability of the Industry to delay progress must not be underestimated. The Industry nonsense about the Californian restaurants losing money when smoke-free came in has never been properly countered and is believed as gospel in the restaurant trade as evidenced by statements.

The new Health Minister, Graham Kierath is less committed to the regulation than his predecessor, but may be willing to bring in the regulation if he perceives strong public support for it. Please take action and write. What happens in every state makes it more likely to happen in other states

Action Point 1

Write to WA Health Minister, Graham Kierath, Parliament House, Perth WA 6000. Ask that he bring in the smoke-freed area regulation in all places where food is served and that this be done so that he whole volume of air is smoke-free, not just the immediate areas. Point out that he will be improving on the ACT legislation and leading Australia in a necessary reform.

Advertising Bans in NSW - Don't Forget

All 6 to 24 sheet billboards are banned in NSW from 31st March. These are the 6 x 3 metre ones that are common in service stations and along roads. (The huge ones on top of buildings are still legal till 26th September). If you see any 6 x 3 metre ones after this date

Action Point 2

Write to the Health Minister (whoever it is after the election) and demand that any 6 x 3 metre billboards present after Friday 31st March be removed immediately.

Change of Government in ACT

There has been a change of government in the ACT. The liberals are now the largest party, and are expected to govern with the help of independent Michael Moore, whose amendments weakened the restaurant smoking ban there. He is well intentioned but uses the inappropriate 'harm minimisation' model for tobacco. The question is whether the Smoke-Free restaurant legislation is at risk or will be revised.

Quit Campaign Increases Smoking Says Tobacco Institute

The National Quit Campaign was to blame for the rise in young smokers according to Donna Staunton of the Tobacco Institute's evidence to the Senate Inquiry. Australian 4/2/95

Why a campaign against smoking should cause, yet advertising for it not cause it was not explained.

It seems Ms Staunton has stopped smoking for her pregnancy. Why she should do this when it is such a harmless product is also not explained.

U.S. Cigarette Exports Rise

The USA exported 202 billion cigarettes in the first 11 months of 1994, 14% more than the corresponding period in the previous year. The value was $US4.53 billion, up 27% from as year ago.. Jakarta Post 2/2/95 Philip Morris increased its profit 37% on a 12% increase in group revenues. It increased its market share of US cigarette sales 2.6% to a market share of 44.8%. Marlboro sales increased 14% to 399 billion. Australian 27/1/95

Hassle over Quit Documents Resolved

A row over Quit market research information held by the WA Health department has been resolved. The ex-President of the WA Liberal Party, Bill Hassell, who is now WA's Agent-General in London applied for documents related to the activities of the WA Quit campaign in December. The request was under the Freedom of Information Act. He said that he was applying as a private citizen, but the Health Department was reluctant to release the documents, believing that he may have been acting as a tobacco industry lobbyist, and that the documents would be extremely useful to the Industry internationally, as only WA and Singapore had succeeded in getting child smoking rates down. At first the Information Commissioner ruled that the documents were not exempt, but the Department deleted certain sections, and appealed to the Supreme Court. Hassall has now dropped his request, criticising the West Australian newspaper for its coverage of the issue. The Health department has therefore dropped its appeal.

The British Medical Association supported the WA Health Department, suggesting the global importance was not exaggerated. Professor of Marketing at the University of WA, Rob Donovan also supported the appeal, saying that although the data was from 1991-3, it had not dated and was commercially competitive information as the WA health Department was effectively competing with the tobacco industry. West Australian 23/1, 25/1, 4/2/95.

ASH Criticises Warne and Wills re Calendar

Anne Jones of ASH has criticised cricket star Shane Warne and Wills tobacco for having a picture of Warne smoking in the 1995 Benson and Hedges calendar. Anne criticised the fact that the sponsor's name appears in many months pictures and that the calendar was a gift obtainable as an extra when purchasing cigarettes, as there is a discount for it when 50 cigarettes are purchased.

Smoke-Free Deal on Pacific Flights

A new agreement between Canada, the USA and Australia will ban smoking on all non-stop flights between the three countries from March 1 1995. Delta Airlines in the US, has gone smoke-free on all its flights . Delta flies to Japan and Korea and found with a survey that even on these flights people favoured smoke-free to smoking by 4:1. The surveys were distributed in English, Japanese, Korean and Chinese. Bangkok Post 21/1/95

65 Kids Injured by Home Cigarettes

A new report from Kidsafe Australia on children taken to Brisbane hospitals from 1988-93 showed that 65 children in 6 years had tobacco caused injuries. 45% of these were from burns, especially to the eyes, but the greatest problem was poisoning at 42% with 15% of toddlers who ate cigarettes admitted for nicotine poisoning. 13% had ash or smoke in their eyes. Courier-Mail 23/1/95

French Will Privatise Seita

The French government will privatise the state tobacco company, Seita, retaining only 12-14% of the stock. The sale is expected to raise about 5 billion francs. Seita make Gauloises and Gitanes, but has been losing market share to American brands such as Marlboro, especially in the youth market.

Question Asked re Quit Campaign

Democrat MP, Richard Jones asked the NSW Health Minister's representative in the NSW upper house about the $170,000 wasted by the cancellation of the NSW Quit Campaign advert. The Minister's representative, Virginia Chadwick said that it was a very stupid question and made no attempt to answer it.

NSW to Get Tobacco and Health Strategy

The NSW Health Department has developed a new Tobacco and Health Strategic Plan for 1995-1999. This is a new initiative by the department and followed a 2 day workshop where NSMA, ASH and other health groups had input.

NSMA commented on the strategy, praising it as more complete than any previous palns, but asking that it be toughened up in a number of areas, where vague good intentions were in evidence. The tax levels sought in particular were too low. Also a central idea in the strategy was 'harm minimisation'. This idea is becoming fashionable for many behaviours, in particular those that are illegal or difficult to stop. For example I-V drug use is illegal, but can cause AIDS or Hepatitis through dirty needles and syringes. Drug workers therefore issue clean needles and syringes to lessen this. However, tobacco use is not inevitable, and there is no 'minimisation'. The harm is directly proportional to use. 'Harm minimisation' leads to the idea that better air conditioning can help with passive smoking, so is much favoured by the tobacco industry. It was used by Independent MP Michael Moore to weaken the ACT restaurant smoking ban. NSMA submitted it had no place in the strategy.

NSW Election - Action Needed

There is an election in NSW on March 25th. NSMA will be surveying the parties, but it is most important that members approach election candidates as voters and ask what they will be doing about the tobacco problem.

Action Point 3 (for NSW Members only)

Ask each candidate what he/she proposes to do about tobacco if they are elected. Will they:

1. Introduce Smoke-free legislation for: All Workplaces? Restaurants? Clubs? Pubs?

2. Improve Sales to Minors Laws?

3. Raise tobacco tax to at least as high as any other state?

4. Stop point of sale advertising and give-aways?

Make it clear that your vote depends on their answer.

(Dr Chesterfield-Evans is standing for the Democrats in the Upper House).

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    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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