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January 7th, 2014:

Julia Gillard: Tobacco’s ugly truth must be uncovered

Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia, writes for the Guardian:

A family friend recently told me the story of her parents, who migrated from Greece to Australia in the 1950s. They settled in rural South Australia, where her father earned his living as a fisherman. A huge storm hit and he went missing for three days. When he finally returned safely, his wife was overjoyed – but the stress of the event did not leave her. In broken English, she consulted the local doctor and asked him about how to settle her nerves. In an age of innocence, he advised her to take up smoking. She died of lung cancer.

Al Gore, who self-effacingly told us in his movie, An Inconvenient Truth, that he was the man who “used to be the next president of the United States”, recalled a similar story. He and his older sister worked summers on the family’s tobacco farm. She took up smoking as a teenager and died of lung cancer. “My father, he had grown tobacco all his life. He stopped it,” Gore said. “Whatever explanation that seemed to make sense in the past just didn’t cut it anymore.”

Australia’s health minister and then attorney general Nicola Roxon introduced plain packaging of cigarettes and then went on to fight an epic legal battle against big tobacco. She won in August 2012. The tears cried were of joy, mingled with relief.

Since 1 December 2012, cigarettes packets in Australia do not sparkle with gold or silver and do not have any other way to catch and please the eye. They’re a uniform drab colour, with most of the box taken up with the most graphic health warnings. Gruesome pictures of disease perhaps better described as real pictures of the ugly truth.

Australian plain packaging for cigarettes. (PA/Guardian)

Evidence is already available: plain packaging works. Smokers are more likely to consider giving up, and they’re also more likely to think the quality of their cigarettes has diminished. Research also shows that when young people look at plain cigarette packs, they believe the product is used by people who are less stylish and sociable, and not as attractive to mimic. This helps break the cycle of attracting young “replacement” smokers progressively taking the place of those older smokers who have quit or, too often, died.


Daily Liberal: Owners of NSW eateries happy with smoking ban

from Kim Bartley, reporting for the Australian Daily Liberal:

With barely a huff or a puff, customers of salad run in Dubbo’s Macquarie Street have accepted owner Sharon Campbell’s decision to ban smoking at outside tables.

The business is among eateries across the Western NSW Local Health District being encouraged to get ahead of new legislation banning smoking in alfresco dining areas from July 6, 2015.

Health promotion officers are reported to be working with businesses and communities to “serve up fresh air in the interests of good taste and healthier lives”.

“Taking smoke off the menu is another positive step in the success story of tobacco regulation in Australia, creating healthier environments, healthier people and a less stretched hospital system,” health district promotion manager Lyndal O’Leary said.

Miss Campbell did not need nudging by the health district.

She came to Dubbo from Melbourne, thinking NSW had already followed Victoria in stubbing out smoking in outdoor dining areas.

When the doors of salad run opened she began dissuading customers from lighting up outside.

“I have only had one person say to me ‘How can you have coffee without a cigarette?’, ” she said.

“My customers can now enjoy their lunch break without having to inhale secondhand tobacco smoke and put up with unsightly cigarette ash and/or butts.”

Miss Campbell said she was “definitely not losing customers” because of the stand.

Owner of salad run in Dubbo, Sharon Campbell, enjoys sitting in the business's smoke-free alfresco dining area. (Louise Donges/Daily Liberal)

The health district reports that businesses “expect to see improvements as a result of this change, as they are catering to an increasing majority of the public who don’t smoke or are in the process of quitting”.

More than 80 per cent of the population do not smoke.

The ban effective from the middle of 2015 represents the “last stage” of amendments to the Smoke-Free Environment Act 2000.

This year the act was amended to stop smoking within 10 metres of children’s play equipment in an outdoor public place; in open areas of swimming pool complexes, and spectator areas of sports grounds or other recreational areas during sporting events.

Smoking is also prohibited at public transport stops and stations, including rail, tram, ferry and taxi, and within four metres of a pedestrian entrance to a public building, such as a shopping centre.

5 Dec 2013


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