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April 29th, 2012:

South Australia mounts lawsuit against tobacco companies

South Australia is pushing for tobacco companies to compensate governments for the health costs. Source: Supplied

SOUTH Australia is spearheading a push to recoup billions of dollars spent on caring for sick smokers.

Health Minister John Hill put the proposal to a Ministerial Council meeting in Canberra on Friday and said he had received a positive response.

Mr Hill said Australia was well placed to force tobacco companies to compensate governments for the health costs associated with smoking over many decades.

A similar class action in the US led to the major firms agreeing to the 1997 US Master Settlement Agreement, in which tobacco companies agreed to pay up to $200 billion compensation to states over 30 years.

“I raised it with the other Ministers and we agreed that we would ask the Commonwealth to investigate a similar scheme here,” Mr Hill said.

“It costs taxpayers millions of dollars a year to look after smokers and it is a cost that is completely preventable, and I think we should be able to make a case in Australia, similar to the case in the US, where tobacco companies were forced to pay compensation to the states.”

The class action suggestion was raised in December last year by visiting US anti-tobacco campaigner Matthew Myers, who participated in negotiations which led to the US agreement. Mr Myers told the Federal Government a similar class action would have great prospects of success, given Australia’s common law principles which are based on English laws rather than those of the US.

Five Canadian provinces have recently filed similar law suits, a move which Mr Hill believed Australian authorities should follow.

“There seems to be a firm belief that if they can do this in America and Canada there is no reason why it could not happen in Australia,” Mr Hill said.

New Smokefreemovies ad: Tobacco bought its way into movies. It’s time to get it out again.

See the actual ad

Smoke Free Movies has launched a series of print advertisements in Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and other publications. This advertisement first ran on April 25, 2012 in The Hollywood Reporter and Variety.

Tobacco bought its way into movies. It’s time to get it out again.

[Image: Detail of 1948 Chesterfield cigarette advertisement]


What’s changed for audiences? In 2011, they saw Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Daniel Craig, Bryan Cranston and Phillip Seymour Hoffman using Marlboro, Kool, Camel and Copenhagen brands in five different PG-13 and R-rated films from one major studio.


First, cross-promotion

During Hollywood’s “Golden Age,” more than two-thirds of America’s top adult box office stars advertised tobacco brands.

What did film studios get in return for brokering these deals? Valuable national ad campaigns plugging their contract stars and latest films, paid for by the tobacco industry.

What did the tobacco companies get out of it? Stars smoking on screen reinforced every cent the companies spent on their brand advertising.

Then product placement

In the early 1950s, tobacco promotion shifted to TV. By the time tobacco ads were barred from radio and TV in 1970, Hollywood no longer kept brands off screen. So, through at least the early 1990s, tobacco companies again bought their way into movies through product placement deals involving hundreds of films.

Exposure led to a 1998 legal agreement with state Attorney Generals that barred paid brand placement by domestic tobacco companies. Yet smoking in mainstream movies continued to climb, peaking as late as 2005.

Movies still sell smoking

In 2011, kid-rated films delivered twice as many tobacco exposures as in 2010. Whoever decides it, top stars continue to be associated with tobacco brands on screen (above).

Bottom line? Movies continue to recruit large numbers of new young smokers who replace the adult smokers killed by tobacco.

The R-rating solution

In March 2012, the U.S. Surgeon General reviewed the scientific evidence and history of commercial links between the tobacco and film industries. She then joined other leading health authorities in concluding that the adoption of the R-rating for all future films with tobacco imagery, excepting films that depict tobacco’s real health consequences or portray actual historical people who smoked, would contribute to a reduction in youth smoking.

The tobacco industry has exploited movies for at least seven out of the last nine decades. The R-rating will ensure that the movies young people see most often are, in the future, tobacco-free.


“Tobacco company advertising and promotional activities cause adolescent and young adult smoking initiation and are compounded by depictions of smoking in the movies.” — U.S. Surgeon General, March 2012


American Academy of Pediatrics

American Heart Association


American Lung Association

American Medical Association

Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights

American Public Health Association

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Smoke Free Movies

Review tobacco’s history on screen and evidence-based policy recommendations in Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General (2012), Chapter 5: The tobacco industry’s influences on the use of tobacco among youth.

Ad sample courtesy of Stanford Research into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising (SRITA)

Tobacco chief admitted smoking is harmful in an internal memo

Lamented future ‘smokeless society’

By SUE MONTGOMERY, The GazetteApril 20, 2012

In the suit against Rothmans Benson &

Photograph by: PIERRE OBENDRAUF GAZETTE FILE , The Gazette

The former president of Imperial Tobacco Limited admitted in a confidential internal document that it is an unrefuted and accepted fact that smoking is a serious health issue – but a few months later told a federal legislative committee that there is not proof that tobacco causes disease.

In a 1987 memo, Jean-Louis Mercier, along with Wilmat Tennyson, Imperial’s marketing man at the time, conceded that the tobacco industry had lost the battle “on four critical fronts”: health, social cost, social acceptance and secondhand smoke. The memo concluded the industry should shift the blame to the federal government.

Testifying Thursday at the trial in which Quebec smokers are claiming C$27 billion in damages from Canada’s big three tobacco companies, Mercier repeated that the government, not the tobacco companies, was at fault.

“Personally, I said that if it’s true that it kills 32,000 people a year, I don’t understand why we sell cigarettes,” Mercier said in a large courtroom filled with lawyers on the top floor of Montreal’s courthouse. “Why does the government permit it?

“It should have taken the leadership.”

Mercier also noted that the government, which has made billions of dollars over the years from tobacco sales tax, should have put some of that money into researching how the negative effects of smoking could be reduced.

The tobacco industry lost the health debate, the memo says, because it was “clearly constrained by the basic flaw that it could not argue smoking is good for you.”

It was also hamstrung by the fear of liability and handcuffed by its own lawyers.

“Smoking is a serious health hazard; it is an accepted fact and there is no longer any possibility of refutation,” the memo says.

But according to the transcripts from the legislative committee on Bill C-204 to regulate smoking in the federal workplace and common carriers, Mercier, just months after writing his internal memo, denied smoking caused disease.

“Our views are that, in the context of the current scientific knowledge, these diseases are most likely caused by the interaction of many factors,” he told the committee. “The role, if any, that tobacco or smoking plays in the initiation and the development of these diseases is still very uncertain.”

The transcripts weren’t presented in court, but The Gazette obtained a copy.

The memo also says that the industry, through inaction and apathy, has been “shouldering the entire burden of guilt” and should shift the onus onto government.

“If it is too late to change public perception, the target of the wrath can be changed and this can be done relatively easily and quickly,” the memo says. “The blood is not on the hands of manufacturers engaged in a legitimate endeavour.”

The memo ends in a deflated tone, noting that neither the public nor government has any confidence in the tobacco industry.

“We will continue to stumble along, a sunset industry, heading for a smokeless society.”

The trial, which began in March and is expected to last at least two years, involves about two million Quebec smokers and is the largest claim in Canadian history.

The plaintiffs allege the cigarette industry made and sold a product it knew was dangerous.

The companies – Rothmans Benson & Hedges, JTI Mac-Donald and Imperial – deny the allegations.

To see if you can join the suit, go to


© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

No treatment for smokers or the obese: Doctors back measures to deny procedures for those with unhealthier lifestyles

29 April, 2012

Treatment ban: Some doctors have called for non-emergency treatments to be banned for those who are obese

More than half of doctors across the UK have backed controversial measures to withhold treatment to smokers and the obese.

According to a new survey around 54 per cent of those who took part said the NHS should have the right to deny non-emergency treatments to those who fail to lose weight or kick their smoking habits.

Members of the networking website were asked ‘Should the NHS be allowed to refuse non-emergency treatments to patients unless they lose weight or stop smoking?’

And although the poll was optional 593 of the 1,096 doctors who participated answered yes.

It is believed that some procedures are less likely to work on those with unhealthier lifestyles and medics say they should not use their already limited resources for such work.

In some parts of England smokers and the obese are already being rejected IVF treatment as well as hip and knee replacements by private clinics but patient groups have reacted angrily to calls for the NHS to follow suit, saying it denies them their basic human rights.

Speaking to The Observer Dr. Tim Ringrose,‘s chief executive, said the shift in attitudes is a result of the need to make huge cut backs.

Unhealthy: Smokers should not be entitled to the same medical care because of their habit, according to some doctors

He said: ‘This might appear to be only a slim majority of doctors in favor of limiting treatment to some patients who fail to look after themselves, but it represents a tectonic shift for a profession that has always sought to provide free healthcare from the cradle to the grave.’

Dr. Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, also told the paper: ‘Clearly, giving up smoking is a good thing, but blackmailing people by telling them that they have to give up isn’t what doctors should be doing.’

Pulse magazine has already reported that around 25 of 91 Primary Care Trusts in England have imposed some treatment bans since April last year.

A move to help save the £20bn, expected by the Government, before 2015.

But treatment bans of any kind were slammed by Dr Mark Porter, chairman of the British Medical Association’s consultants committee, who added: ‘There are occasions where a doctor may advise an obese person to lose weight before surgery can safely go ahead.

‘But treatment bans are wholly unacceptable.

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