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Cancer Council unaware tobacco giant behind FOI request on child smoking habits

British American Tobacco criticised in Australia for not being ‘upfront about its involvement’ in freedom of information request for survey data

According to the most recently available statistics from the Victorian Cancer Council, about 13% of Victorians smoke, and about 4,000 lives are lost in the state each year due to smoking, costing the healthcare system $2.4bn.

Its chief executive, Todd Harper, said the council had been advocating for the ban for years, but that its strength would come down to how well hospitality workers were protected from tobacco smoke.

“We haven’t seen the detail yet, and that’s because there is a consulation period,” Harper said.

“Ultimately, how effective the smoke-free laws are will be seen in how well they protect hospitality workers from tobacco smoke, because they are the ones who spend the most time in these environments.

“We’re not concerned that it will take until 2017 to implement this ban, so long as that time is well spent properly consulting to ensure the legislation, when implemented, protects workers as effectively as possible.”

Community support for smoke-free outdoor dining is high. Cancer Council Victoria research showed 73% of Victorians support the ban. Smoking bans in enclosed restaurants were introduced in 2001.

However, opposition health spokeswoman, Mary Wooldridge asked why the outdoor smoking ban was taking the government so long to introduce, given the Coalition announced the policy over a year ago when it was still in government.

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