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Tuesday, 7 June 1994
Page: 1387

Senator LEES (Deputy Leader of the Australian Democrats) (3.28 p.m.) —I move:

  That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

  Leave granted.

  The speech read as follows

This bill is in keeping with a long tradition of parliamentary action by the Australian Democrats against the advertising of tobacco products.

The Tobacco Advertising Prohibition (Broadcasting and Tobacco Advertising Legislation) Amendment Bill 1994 introduces two significant measures which will further contribute to the improved health of the Australian community.

Firstly, the bill revives Senator Janet Powell's private senator's bill of 1990 which sought to amend the Broadcasting Act to prohibit the incidental broadcasting of tobacco advertising.

Secondly, the bill repeals provisions in the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act which currently enable the advertising of tobacco products at major Australian cultural and sporting events.

More than 17,000 Australians lose their lives each year as a consequence of tobacco related illnesses and the medical and health costs to the Australian community are enormous. There is absolutely no doubt that cigarette smoking is our number one health problem.

The link between cigarette advertising and young people taking up smoking is well documented. It is a link which is recognised by the World Health Organisation and by all leading health organisations in Australia.

Studies conducted both here and in the United States and the United Kingdom have shown that advertising at and sponsorship of sporting events is seen in a positive light by children and that it plays a role in the uptake of smoking by children.

The Federal Government has acknowledged this link. In 1976, the Federal Government introduced a ban on cigarette advertising in the electronic media. That was followed many years later in 1989 by the Government—in an historic parliamentary first—taking up Senator Powell's private senator's bill and moving to ban cigarette advertising in the print media.

But the Government has never taken the final step and moved to a total ban on tobacco advertising. This bill takes that final step. It is designed to close the door once and for all on all forms of cigarette advertising and it is designed to prevent young people and children from becoming the target of cigarette advertising.

This bill recognises that there is no safe level or form of tobacco use. It acknowledges that there are many other legal products which cannot be advertised because of the risks associated with those products and it rejects the claim that advertising is targeted at encouraging people to maintain brand loyalty or to switch brands rather than take up smoking in the first place.

The bill addresses two major deficiencies.

It closes a loophole in the Broadcasting Act which continues to allow the incidental broadcasting of tobacco advertising—that is, any matter which includes a trade mark, brand name or logo associated with cigarettes or tobacco products. It would still permit the broadcasting of that material which occurred accidentally or in the initial coverage of events which took place overseas.

This loophole allows tobacco companies to promote their products through sponsorship, through the exposure of their name associated with major events or major organisations, and through the broadcasting of brand names and logos as part of television coverage of sporting events.

It is important to close this loophole because it has clearly provided tobacco companies with the means to circumvent the ban on advertising.

In December 1990, Senator Powell introduced a private senator's bill to close this loophole. She did so after the Government and the Coalition (with the exception of Senators Peter Baume, Herron and Archer) voted against her amendments to the Broadcasting Act—amendments which would have had the same effect as this bill.

As Senator Powell pointed out when she introduced her bill, tobacco companies are not in the business of sporting philanthropy—they are in the business of creating advertising opportunities and expanding the market for their products.

In her second reading speech, Senator Powell went on to discuss in some detail how effective tobacco companies have been in exploiting the loophole in the Broadcasting Act—and things have not improved in the four years since her bill was tabled.

In reviving Senator Powell's bill, I am not only paying a tribute to her efforts in this area over the years, I am also introducing an important piece of legislation which will send a clear signal to tobacco industry that we will fulfil our obligations to young Australians and move to totally ban the advertising of tobacco products.

The second part of this bill will repeal section 18 of the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act 1992. This is the section under which sporting and cultural events can be granted exemptions from the provisions of the Act.

This bill would bring to an end the discretion to grant an exemption from the Act. It would make it a non-issue. No-one would be able to put pressure on the Minister or the Government to grant an exemption because no-one would be able to apply for an exemption in the first place.

Since the Act was passed, six exemptions have been granted: to the Australian Formula One Grand Prix, the Australian Motor Cycle Grand Prix, the Australian Ladies Masters, the Telecom Rally Australia, the Whitbread Around the World Yacht Race and the Australian Challenge for the America's Cup.

There is no doubt that these events—which attract significant television coverage—have been used to promote and advertise tobacco products.

It is not good enough to claim that these events are "one-offs" which will have not act as incentive for people to take up smoking.

We know that tobacco sponsorship of major sporting events has a significant impact on young people, in particular, taking up smoking. That is precisely the reason tobacco companies associate themselves and their products with these events. That is the reason they associate their products with healthy lifestyles and sporting events and sporting heroes.

Young people look up to these athletes and sportspeople—what sort of message are we giving young people when they see their sporting heroes being part of advertising campaigns for a product which is killing more than 17,000 Australian every year?

When tobacco companies sponsor sporting events, it also limits the capacity of sportspeople to speak out against tobacco and cigarette smoking. I cannot imagine there are too many international sportspeople who also smoke—after all, tobacco is not exactly a performance enhancer—but financial and contractual obligations to tobacco companies have been very effective in preventing sportspeople from getting an anti-smoking message across to young people.

Many of us can remember when one of those sporting heroes, cricketer Greg Matthews, spoke out against cigarette smoking and was promptly fined by the Australian Cricket Board. Although Greg Matthews was widely praised for his actions, he lost three months' pay as a consequence of breaching a clause in his contract which said he was not allowed to speak out against tobacco or cigarettes because of the Australian Cricket Board's commitment to the Benson & Hedges company. What sort of message did that send to young people and children?

I do not believe we should tolerate "half measures" in this matter. Either we decide to prohibit the advertising of tobacco products or we don't. There is little point in moving to "ban" advertising if we then allow tobacco sponsorship and incidental advertising and exemptions for particular sporting or cultural events.

Leaving those gaps and loopholes open means we are simply inviting tobacco companies to climb right through them. We might as well have no ban at all. We may have closed off some of the more obvious channels for tobacco advertising , but we are still giving the tobacco companies ample opportunity to promote their product in conjunction with the sorts of events and activities which appeal to young people.

This bill closes down those opportunities once and for all. It says very clearly and unequivocally that Australia is not a place where tobacco companies can advertise their product in any way, shape or form.

There are alternatives to tobacco sponsorship of sport and is time those organisations still relying upon tobacco industry money started exploring those alternatives. It is time the Federal Government looked at the experiences of South Australia and Victoria in replacing tobacco advertising and sponsorship through the establishment of Foundation SA and the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation.

The Democrats have called for the establishment of a national Sport and Health Promotion Fund to replace tobacco sponsorship of sport. We have suggested that such a Fund could be financed by an increase in tobacco excise of 80c/kilo, raising $20 million a year.

The Fund would also direct funds towards ensuring continued recognition for non-Olympic and "lower profile" sports and, as with Vic-Health and Foundation SA, it would have a clear brief for health promotion, linking positive health messages with sports sponsorship.

Replacing tobacco sponsorship of sport is the direction in which we should be heading. In closing the door on incidental advertising and removing the possibility of any exemptions being granted, this bill provides an added impetus at a federal level to set off firmly in that direction.

I commend the bill to the Senate.

  Debate (on motion by Senator Jones) adjourned.