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September 16th, 2011:

Roxon to talk tough on tobacco at UN

Belinda Tasker, AAP Medical Correspondent  September 16, 2011 – 11:39AM AAP

Health Minister Nicola Roxon will encourage other countries to follow Australia’s push for plain-packaged tobacco at a major United Nations summit on chronic diseases next week.

Ms Roxon and Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd will join dozens of heads of state at the UN General Assembly’s two-day summit on the world’s biggest killers – cancer, diabetes, heart disease and lung disease – which begins in New York on Monday.

Chronic diseases are the leading cause of death around the world and claimed the lives of 36 million people in 2008.

Health experts have been calling for urgent action to address the issue amid fears the number of deaths could reach 52 million annually within two decades.

With lifestyle factors such as smoking playing a key role in the rise in chronic disease, Australia’s legal battle with the tobacco industry over plain cigarette packs has attracted headlines around the world ahead of the summit.

Ms Roxon said she hoped to share the government’s challenges with the tobacco industry in trying to introduce laws for all cigarettes to be sold in drab olive-brown packs from mid-2012.

“I hope this UN meeting sees other countries around the world join Australia in staring down the misleading and intimidating tactics of big tobacco,” she said.

“The Australian government believes there is a strong commitment among countries to create an agreement that galvanises global efforts to stem the tide of non-communicable diseases.”

While Australia is pushing ahead with its new laws, which are before parliament, the European Union this week appeared to steer itself away from following suit.

European Union politicians on Thursday voted against amending a joint resolution communicating the EU’s position ahead of the UN summit to say it would introduce standardised cigarette packaging.

Instead, the resolution emphasises the need for an immediate, effective revision of the Tobacco Products Directive.

It is only the second time the UN has attempted to tackle a major health issue since its creation in 2001 of the global fund to fight HIV AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

Some health groups have criticised officials taking part in the UN summit for failing to agree on specific goals for delegates to consider including deadlines for reducing certain diseases and risk factors such as smoking.

Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance Franca Marine said urgent action was needed as diseases such as cancer and diabetes were now taking more lives than infectious diseases.

“Originally many people thought of chronic diseases as wealthy country diseases but they are becoming more prevalent in lower- to middle-income countries,” she said.

“Those low- to middle-income countries don’t have the same health systems and infrastructure to support healthy lifestyles so people are developing these diseases earlier.

“Most public health groups support the UN meeting but what we would like to see come out of it are some definite targets or action but it’s a very deeply political process trying to get these sorts of countries to agree.”

Tobacco phoney science

Donations to political parties


10.1 The global tobacco manufacturing industry

10.2 The manufacturing industry in Australia

10.3 Retail value and volume of the market

10.4 The tobacco companies operating in Australia

10.5 Major importers operating in the Australian market

10.6 Market share and brand share

10.7 Trends in products and packaging

10.8 The tobacco growing industry

10.9 The tobacco industry and the illegal tobacco market

10.10 The tobacco industry exposed: tobacco industry document repositories

10.11 Corporate responsibility and the birth of good corporate citizenship

10.12 The tobacco industry’s revised stance on health issues

10.13 Encouraging young people not to smoke

10.14 The environmental impact of tobacco production

10.15 Ethical farming issues

10.16 The environmental impact of tobacco use

10.17 The tobacco industry’s response to tobacco litter

10.18 Corporate links with charities and social causes

10.19 Tobacco industry lobbying—overview

10.20 Tobacco industry lobbying—the tools

10.21 Tobacco industry lobbying—the targets

10.22 Donations to political parties

10.23 Public attitudes to the tobacco industry

10.24 The future of the tobacco industry



In Australia it is a legal requirement that donations made by individuals or entities to registered political parties to the value of or greater than $10,000[62] are declared to the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC). The AEC posts on its website[63] donor annual returns dating back to the financial year 1998?99. Table 10.22 shows the total amounts of tobacco money received by the three major political parties in Australia since then.

Table 10.22
Political donations declared by tobacco companies in Australia to registered political parties; financial years 1998/99–2006/07

Labor (ALP) Liberals (LPA) Nationals (ANP)
Financial Year $ (unadjusted)
1998–99* (Oct)
Philip Morris 41,610 62,800 25,000
BATA 61,000 45,000 10,000
Philip Morris 50,000 124,960 30,000
BATA 19,815 33,123
Philip Morris 64,520 63,000 32,500
BATA 122,025 131,655
2001–02* (Nov)
Philip Morris 74,800 84,815 37,500
BATA 60,450 146,423 27,500
Philip Morris 9000 41,620 10,000
BATA 26,150 114,200 15,000
Philip Morris 5950 10,100 2200
BATA 31,040 148,739 15,400
2004–05* (Oct)
Philip Morris 103,700 35,500
BATA 159,267
Philip Morris 94,940 34,275
BATA 114,311 16,600
Philip Morris 92,050 30,100
BATA 161,409 3300

* Denotes a financial year in which a federal election was held; month of the election is in brackets.

Note: Total funds donated by Philip Morris Ltd to the Liberal Party also include gifts to The 500 Club*[1] and Bayside Forum, organisations which support the Liberal Party of Australia.326 Donations to the Labor Party include those to Progressive Business, a satellite group of the Victorian ALP.*[2]

Source: Australian Electoral Commission.333



In February 2004, the then leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) opposition, Mr Mark Latham, announced that the ALP would no longer accept donations from tobacco companies.326 The Liberal Party of Australia (LPA)327 and the Australian National Party (ANP)328 have continued to receive donations from PMA and BATA on an ongoing basis, and have publicly stated that they see no reason to stop doing so. Neither the Australian Democrats329 nor the Australian Greens330 take tobacco company donations as a matter of policy.

Soon after Mr Latham’s announcement in 2004, a Private Members’ Bill was proposed by ALP MP Mr Duncan Kerr and seconded by LPA MP Dr Mal Washer. If passed, the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Preventing Smoking Related Deaths) Bill (2004-05)[64] would have prevented political parties and individual candidates from accepting donations from tobacco companies. The Bill was first read in the House of Representatives on 16 February 2004331 but was to founder quietly the following year in the absence of support from the then Liberal-National Coalition government.

Prior to the ALP’s refusal of donations from tobacco companies, all three major political parties received significant contributions from PMA and BATA. ITA does not appear to have made political donations. In general, substantially larger amounts of funding have been directed by both tobacco companies towards the conservative parties (LPA and ANP) even prior to the ALP ban, which is likely to reflect preference by the tobacco companies for conservative politics, as well as the fact that the Liberal/National Coalition was in power for the entire period shown in Table 10.22.

Australian political parties have received in total about $1.46 million in donations from BATA, and $1.16 million from PMA since 1989–99. Since the ALP’s rejection of tobacco donations in 2004, the Liberals and the Nationals have jointly received between $200,000–$300,000 annually.

In December 2005, under the Coalition federal government led by Mr John Howard, rules concerning the minimum value of donations requiring disclosure were changed and the reportable limit increased from $1500 to $10,000. According to The Agenewspaper, this has simultaneously led to an increase in political donations from all sources as well as opacity in tracing their origins.326 For example, investigations by the The Age showed that although the donor annual return filed by the LPA for the financial year 2005–06 detailed income directly received by the party from tobacco companies; it could not be ascertained from the return that some of the LPA’s closely-allied fund-raising organisations such as The 500 Club and the Bayside Forum were also in receipt of tobacco money.326 Although these donations were declared by the tobacco companies in their own annual returns to the AEC, the current system of reporting does not guarantee clear, one-stop disclosure of funding sources.

In February 2008, ALP Prime Minister Mr Kevin Rudd announced his intention to reform political donation laws.332 Inquiries are currently underway federally[65] and at the state level in Victoria[66] and New South Wales.[67]

[62]Previously the limit was $1,500 – see discussion later in this section.



[65] The Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Political Donations and other Measures) Bill 2008 has been referred by the Senate to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters for inquiry and report (as part of its inquiry into the 2007 Federal Election). The Bill reduces the donations disclosure threshold to $1000 and strengthens the disclosure obligations of candidates and political parties. See

[66] In Victoria, the Electoral Matters Committee is conducting an inquiry into whether the Electoral Act 2002 should be amended to create a system of political donations disclosure and/or restrictions on political donations. For more information, see

[67] Following a similar inquiry in NSW, the Election Funding Agreement (Political Donations and Expenditure) Bill 2008 was tabled in the Legislative Council in June 2008. The purpose of the Bill is to strengthen disclosure obligations and reduce the disclosure threshold to $1000 (consistent with the Commonwealth proposal). See:!OpenDocument

Nicotine may be classified as performance-enhancing drug

GENEVA (AP) — The World Anti-Doping Agency can take the first steps toward classifying nicotine as a performance-enhancing drug on Saturday, when it meets to update its list of substances prohibited in sport.

WADA has received a report from its accredited laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland, that describes “alarming evidence” of nicotine use by athletes across 43 sports studied.

“WADA and sport federations should evaluate the inclusion of nicotine to the Prohibited List or/and Monitoring Program,” the Lausanne lab reported after a year-long study published by the Forensic Science International journal.

The performance-enhancing effects of nicotine included increased “vigilance and cognitive function,” and reduced stress and body weight.

“Interestingly, nicotine also triggers a significant increase of pulse rate, blood pressure, blood sugar and epinephrine release owing to simultaneous stimulant and relaxant properties,” the report said.

“Smokeless tobacco is a very attractive drug from a doping perspective,” researchers suggested, because it did not damage an athlete’s breathing and respiratory system.

The WADA ruling panel is meeting in Lausanne to weigh changes in the status of doping products and methods that will come into force in January.

Nicotine is among a number of readily available substances, including caffeine and Viagra, to have been evaluated for potential doping effects. Tests on 2185 urine samples in Lausanne found 15 percent of athletes actively used nicotine, compared to 25 percent of the general population.

However, athletes in ice hockey, gymnastics, rugby and skiing rated as above-average users of nicotine, while 19 percent of soccer players samples showed traces “before or/and during sport practice.”

The report stated that “these statistics bring a very significant support to the hypothesis of smokeless tobacco use as a performance enhancer.”

The Lausanne lab’s study followed initial research involving players at the 2009 ice hockey world championships played in Switzerland, which showed nearly half were active nicotine users.

Its claims of nicotine’s performance-enhancing qualities have been disputed by golfers, who face increased testing after their sport was included on the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics program.

“There is no drug proven that benefits golf,” Darren Clarke, the British Open champion, said this month at a tournament in Switzerland.

Clarke and his European Ryder Cup teammates Miguel Angel Jimenez and Thomas Bjorn regularly smoke on the golf course.

WADA can monitor a substance ahead of inclusion on the prohibited list if it meets two out of three criteria for inclusion – enhancing performance, damaging health and breaching the spirit of clean sport.

The report states that nicotine meets all three.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Read more:

Conflicts of interest and the UN high-level meeting on non-communicable diseases

The Lancet, Early Online Publication, 16 September 2011

Many non-governmental organisations and professional groups are increasingly concerned by the current UN approach to engaging with private-sector and trade associations whose products and marketing contribute to the development of non-communicable diseases (NCD). The UN high-level meeting on NCDs (chiefly cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases) on Sept 19—20, 2011, will present an unprecedented opportunity to address this important but neglected global health issue.1 More than 140 public-interest organisations from around the world have signed up to the Conflict of Interest Declaration,2 which has been sent to the President of the General Assembly, and the co-convenors of the high-level meeting—the Ambassadors from Luxembourg and Jamaica.

Initiatives with the private sector, such as STOP TB and Roll Back Malaria, can be effective when the process is transparent and when the private-sector partners involved have few conflicts of interest. However, in the case of NCDs, there are clear conflicts for the corporations that contribute to and profit from the sales of alcoholic beverages; foods with high fat, salt, and sugar contents; and tobacco products—all of which are important causes of NCDs.3 These conflicts must be explicitly recognised and addressed, as acknowledged by WHO.4—6 Failure to do this will undermine the development of competent policy; the effectiveness and efficiency of programmes; and the confidence the global health community and the public at large have in the UN and WHO’s ability to govern and advance public health, which will severely impair capacity to help member states address NCDs.

We recommend the following actions to manage the issue of conflicts of interest for NCDs and to protect the integrity of the UN’s public-policy decision making on NCDs:

  • WHO should develop a code of conduct that sets out a clear ethical framework to identify and address conflicts of interest, eliminating those that are insurmountable and managing those regarded as acceptable after a thorough risk/benefit analysis. Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control provides an example of a framework that safeguards public health policy from the influence of the tobacco industry.
  • This code of conduct and ethical framework should be used to guide any interactions with the private sector in NCD prevention and control at UN, regional, or national level and to differentiate clearly between no involvement in policy development and appropriate involvement in implementation that complies with existing regulations and the principles established in the code of conduct.
  • This code of conduct should be mandated at the international UN level, and adopted as good practice recommendation for action by member states.

We urge the adoption of the above recommendations in the political declaration and follow-up actions to the high-level meeting on NCDs. The risks of not doing so are great. Without such safeguards, policies and recommendations will invariably be weakened to suit the interests of powerful corporations. The ability of member states—especially those in resource-poor settings—to take effective action and to regulate harmful marketing practices will also be severely weakened.

As a consequence, the public’s health, workforce productivity, and the economy will be undermined by prioritising the interests of the food and beverage industries, as well as the pharmaceutical, technology, and treatment companies, over the public good. These fundamental conflicts of interest need to be addressed at this crucial formative stage. Failure to address these concerns will mean that the effect of the UN high-level meeting process will be substantially impaired and demonstrate flawed public-interest leadership.

We declare that we have no conflicts of interest.