ACOSH Advocacy in Action - 25 March 2021

Welcome to the latest edition of the ACOSH Advocacy in Action e-bulletin for 2021.
We aim to provide topical information on advocacy for tobacco control in Western Australia, Nationally and around the world. Please forward to others who may be interested.
Thank you for your support.The work of ACOSH is generously supported by Healthway and Lotterywest.

Latest estimates of prevalence in Australian states and territories

Tobacco in Australia: Facts & Issues

“Our chapter on the prevalence of smoking has been updated with data from the 2019 National Drug Strategy Household survey, showing figures and trends that can only be found in Tobacco in Australia: Facts & issues. For example, see Section 1.8 for the prevalence of regular (daily + weekly) smoking among Australian adults by country of birth, and Section 1.13 for the prevalence of regular smoking among men and women aged 18+ in each state and territory.”



“Is it banned? Is it illegal?”: Navigating Western Australia’s regulatory environment for e-cigarettes

“In Australia, there is no Federal legislation that directly applies to e-cigarettes, instead, several existing laws relating to poisons, therapeutic goods and tobacco control apply. Across all Australian States and Territories, it is illegal to sell nicotine-containing e-cigarettes, however, users can legally import nicotine-containing vaporisers through the Personal Importation Scheme.

“Western Australia differs from other Australian States and Territories in that products which resemble tobacco products are banned, effectively prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes.

“This study aimed to understand how e-cigarette users navigate Western Australia’s regulatory environment to access vaping products and the health and safety issues encountered.”



European Union Tobacco Products Directive: smokers’ and recent quitters’ support for further tobacco control measures

“New research shows that in 2018, approximately 50% of smokers and recent quitters in 6 European Union countries were in favour of the tobacco industry being held accountable for the harms caused by smoking.

“There is considerable support among smokers for approaches to tobacco control that go beyond the current measures implemented. Most smokers support stronger government action to control the tobacco epidemic and many of them believe the tobacco industry should be held accountable for the harms caused by smoking.

“Additionally, a significant percentage of smokers would support a ban on tobacco products in the future if the government provided assistance to quit smoking. This highlights the importance of implementing measures to increase smoking cessation in conjunction with other policies.”



Supporting smoking cessation and preventing relapse following a stay in a smoke-free setting

“A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted examining pharmacological or behavioural interventions delivered during the stay and/or post‐discharge following a stay in a smoke‐free setting, including mental health and substance abuse settings, prisons and acute hospital settings.

“Interventions, in general, increased the likelihood of abstinence (verified biochemically) at follow-up (RR = 1.27, 95% CI 1.08–1.49).

“The most common behaviour change techniques trialled in interventions were goal setting, pharmacological support, provision of health consequence information and action planning.”


Tasmania’s T21 bill: push to raise legal purchasing age for cigarettes fails

“A push to raise Tasmania’s legal age for the purchase of cigarettes has been defeated in the state’s Legislative Council – a result the sponsor of the bill has described as “bitterly disappointing”.

“The T21 bill sought to amend the Public Health Act to increase the legal purchase age from 18 to 21.

“It was hoped the legislation would reduce Tasmania’s smoking rates, which are the second highest of all states and territories at more than 17 per cent.

“The bill was the brainchild of independent Windermere MLC Ivan Dean and was supported by mining magnate Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest’s philanthropic organisation the Minderoo Foundation.

“During debate in the upper house on Tuesday, Mr Dean pointed out to his colleagues that all the nation’s major health organisations had backed the T21 bill, including the Australian Medical Association, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the Cancer Council.

“He said his draft legislation had been modelled on “global best practice” and that similar legislation had been implemented on a national scale in the United States and Singapore.

“It is well-established that young people are more susceptible to addiction,” he said.

“If we can prevent the process of starting the smoking we can go some way to alleviating the suffering in our community.

“What this bill sets out to do is increase the barriers to the industry addicting our young people.”

“The bill was voted down 11 votes to 3.”



New Zealand: An end at last to the dirty politics saga

“The Dirty Politics defamation case ended dramatically last week with an apology no one expected.

“The case exposed details about how a lobbyist paid a blogger to post damaging messages attacking public health advocates.

“But crucial information about the involvement of the powerful international tobacco lobby was never revealed.

“Within hours of the case opening at High Court in Auckland, the PR man and lobbyist Carrick Graham settled with an apology and payment for his part in spreading defamatory statements about three public health experts; Doug Sellman of Alcohol Action; health professor Boyd Swinburn; and former director of the Māori Smokefree Coalition, Shane Bradbrook.

“The case stems from Nicky Hager’s 2014 book Dirty Politics, which outlined a campaign to place damaging stories attacking public health messages about the dangers of sugary food, alcohol and tobacco. The defamatory blogs were posted on the website Whale Oil between 2009 and 2016.”

See also
‘Hit’ jobs case: PR consultant apologises and promises cash to settle defamation case that came from Dirty Politics – NZ Herald



Is the tobacco industry’s human rights makeover growing bolder?

“… British American Tobacco (BAT)’s Journey to a Better Tomorrow: Human Rights Report 2020, published on Human Rights Day (10 December 2020), presents another window into the industry’s misuse of human rights framework. It is the first large-scale report from a multinational tobacco company focused solely on human rights. It possibly heralds a growing industry-wide attempt to claim the title of human rights advocates linked with business investments in new products.

“BAT’s report emphasises, unsurprisingly, the company’s ‘less risky products’ and efforts to grow the non-combustible nicotine market, which appears to be all that is needed for a ‘better tomorrow’.”



Vaping advocates say the darndest things: 6 There’s nicotine in potatoes and tomatoes, so should we restrict or ban them too?

“In 1989, the now long defunct Tobacco Institute of Australia’s West Australian spokesman Ron Berryman advised us all to relax and simmer down on nicotine, saying:

“Cigarettes are harmful, but so are potatoes. Tobacco is in the family. You inhale the fumes of potatoes when you’re cooking them.”

“Ron’s excitement was all about the fact that the tobacco plant is related to other members of the solanaceae (nightshade) family. These include tomatoes, aubergines (eggplants) and potatoes. Nicotine alkaloids occur naturally in all of these, but in … shall we say … rather different concentrations.

“Thirty two years on, this week Alex Wodak, the gift who keeps on giving to my series on Vaping advocates say the darndest things (see here and here), did not disappoint, posting this reprise of an old tobacco industry meme.

“And boy, did he show us how profoundly ignorant and inconsistent all those health agencies and experts are who are expressing caution about nicotine being not quite the almost vitamin-like wonder chemical that many vapers claim it to be. As we’ll see, it’s blindingly “obvious” that with nicotine being in both vape and solanceous vegetables, policy toward both demands to be aligned.

“So let’s run through how nicotine in cigarettes and e-cigarettes compare to that in vegetables…” said Emeritus Professor Simon Chapman.



From the archives: ACOSH advocacy action 1971 – 1999

ACOSH has published an online resource on advocacy strategies and achievements of ACOSH from its establishment in 1971 to 1999.

The resource aims to assist health professionals, students of public health and other health sciences, in public health advocacy by providing case studies on successful advocacy for tobacco control in WA and nationally.



Tweet of the week

“CRUK [Cancer Research UK] report on e-cig marketing in England. A key finding = never smoking/vaping youth noticed e-cig ads more cf adult smokers for almost all media. This, despite regulations to minimise promotion to youth, but allow promotion to adults who smoke/vape.”

“Report also notes 90% of e-cig marketing expenditure for tobacco industry owned brands. Report findings suggests current regulations are not working to protect never smoking/vaping youth from e-cig marketing,” said Professor Richard Edwards, University of Otago.



Tobacco Control News

BAT buys £126m stake in Canadian cannabis firm OrganiGram – The Guardian

Tobacco control to improve child health and development: thematic brief – World Health Organization

Menthol Cigarettes Kill Many Black People. A Ban May Finally Be Near – The New York Times

UK study shows nondaily ecig use associated with significantly less quitting cigs – Professor Stanton Glantz Blog

Insolvency court forces Canada’s tobacco companies to reveal financial information – Physicians for a Smoke-free Canada

Senate committee votes down curbs for “dirty” industry political donations – Croakey