Big Tobacco’s lobbying for e-cigarettes an urgent wake-up call for all governments


The Australian Council on Smoking and Health is calling on all Australian governments to protect children and young people from a relentless campaign by the tobacco industry to promote and make available highly addictive e-cigarettes.

Revelations in a new book released this week, Puff Piece, by documentary maker John Safran, provide a disturbing insight into the lobbying of Australian politicians by Big Tobacco and its funded front groups to make e-cigarettes widely available as a consumer product.

“Australia is fortunate that all our governments are taking a precautionary approach to e-cigarettes,” said Maurice Swanson, Chief Executive of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health.

“However, further strong action is urgently needed because here, as overseas, we are seeing the start of an epidemic of addictive e-cigarette use by teenagers and young adults.

“At the same time, there is growing evidence of the direct harms of e-cigarettes, and more evidence of e-cigarette use leading to smoking.

“The revelations in Puff Piece show just how desperately the tobacco industry is trying to undermine policies in Australia designed to protect young people from the harms of e-cigarettes and smoking.”

Among other revelations, the book reports that a previously senior Australian government official, now President of Burson Cohn Wolfe (Asia Pacific), a Philip Morris International go-to lobbying agency, orchestrated a multi-million-dollar campaign for the tobacco company to influence Australian politicians to support e-cigarettes as consumer products.

“With tighter prescription rules for nicotine from 1 October, there is no place for the general retail sale of e-cigarettes as consumer products that are so clearly marketed at kids. The illegal importation and sale of e-cigarettes should also be strongly enforced to ensure that we don’t have a new generation of kids hooked on nicotine.

“John Safran’s investigation shows how determined Big Tobacco and its funded front groups are to undermine decades of effective tobacco control which have given Australia one of the world’s lowest smoking rates among young people,” Mr Swanson said.