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Thursday, 1 June 1972
Page: 2437

Senator GREENWOOD (VictoriaAttorneyGeneral) - in reply - 1 rise to close the debate and to reply to the amendment moved on behalf of the Opposition. The point should be recognised that the purpose of this legislation is to ensure that where there is advertising on television or radio of cigarette products there shall be a warning which should be heard - and also seen in the case of television - at the conclusion of each such advertisement. The advertisement is specified in the legislation and it shall read:

Medical authorities warn that smoking is a health hazard.

That announcement is to be clearly enunciated over a minimum period of 3 seconds. lt is to be delivered at the level of sound normally used by the station for spoken announcements and it is to avoid any element of ridicule, irony or humour.

As 1 said in regard to television, the visual announcement will be shown on the screen during the period of the spoken announcement. This is one of the 3 steps that the Government announced a short time ago it proposed to take in this area. The first step was the requiring of this announcement to be made after each advertisement. The second step was to legislate within the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory to require health warning labels on cigarette packets. The third step was to conduct, through the Commonwealth Department of Health in association with the States, an education programme aimed at informing the public of the dangers to health of cigarette smoking. The Commonwealth will provide $300,000 a year for 3 years commencing on 1st July for this purpose. It is a constructive programme and the emphasis is upon informing people so that people themselves will be able to assess the risks and take the action which responsibility suggests they should take. I suggest to the Chamber that this ought to be one of the objectives of all legislation - to create in the minds of people whom it affects a sense of obligation to take heed for their own health, their own safety, their own future, their own security and their own advancement and not to leave it to government to impose by laws, certain prohibitions.

I think the debate on this subject proceeds on certain misconceptions and certain non sequiturs whereby people have sought to argue that a certain situation must lead to the complete banning of cigarette advertising on radio and television. What is the basic situation in regard to the connection between smoking and health? I do not think we can say other than that there is evidence linking smoking with disease. Studies which have been conducted over the past 20 years have confirmed the association of cigarette smoking with lung cancer. All responsible medical opinion in the world accepts that there is this association. In general it has been clearly demonstrated that cigarette smokers have a higher mortality rate than non-smokers and that this rate increases with greater cigarette consumption. There have been laboratory experiments which have shown that tobacco smoke contains carcinogenic substances. In addition recent experiments have demonstrated that smoking will cause cancer of the lung in dogs. Such experiments together with statistical studies form the major evidence linking smoking with lung cancer and other diseases of humans. Clinical evidence that cigarette smoking causes disease in humans could be obtained only by controlled human experiments on a vast scale; but, of course medical ethics would not permit such experiments, nor indeed would any rational society countenance this type of experiment. But this connection has been established.

The highest authority to which one could go in this area would be the Assembly of the World Health Organisation which in 1971 in a resolution on the health consequences of smoking expressed in a preamble the following words:

The relationship of cigarette smoking with pulmonary and cardiovascular disease, including lung cancer, ischaemic heart disease, chronic bronchitis and emphysema is accepted beyond doubt by all major medical organisations with public health responsibilities.

Having said that, I think it is fair to say that the association having been demonstrated, it is not - and this is demonstrable - every person who smokes who will inevitably experience lung cancer or heart disease. But the risk is there, and the more one smokes cigarettes the greater the risk. But it is essentially a risk situation, and no-one who smokes cigarettes ought to deny that that risk exists. Having said that, does the existence of a risk lead to the necessity to take the drastic steps which, for example, the Opposition and my friend Senator Wood would seek to take - that is to ban all cigarette advertising on radio and television? After all - and I pose this question for honourable senators to consider - if it is a matter of risk, and the consequences of risk, that people are concerned with, surely the risk which comes from travelling in motor cars, or driving motor cars, and the likelihood of death arising from such a situation, is to be compared at least with the situation of death from lung" cancer; bronchitis, heart disease, emphysema, asthma and so on which may have some connection with cigarette smoking. One' would not come to the stage, I imagine, of saying that all advertising of motor vehicles or motor vehicle parts is to be prohibited.

In terms of logic - and I am putting this forward in terms of logic - the argument that one should ban all cigarette advertising on radio and television does not flow as a consequence from the mere fact that there is a risk which is shown to exist. The Government recognises that fact. Whilst not seeking in any way to diminish the fact that there is this risk to those who smoke cigarettes, let us get our figures right in this regard. For example, in the case of lung cancer there have been more than 30 statistical studies which have shown that the risk of cancer of the lung ncreases directly in relation to the number of cigarettes smoked. In Australia 3,244 persons died from lung cancer in 1970, and on the estimate of the Royal College of Physicians in London 90 per cent of deaths from lung cancer may be attributable to cigarette smoking. Likewise, surveys have shown that cigarette smokers are more prone to develop both acute and chronic bronchitis than either non-smokers or cigar or pipe smokers. The latter disease - that is, chronic bronchitis - will often lead to emphysema, a chronic degenerative condition of the lungs which prevents an adequate exchange of air by the lungs. In 1970 in Australia the number of deaths from chronic bronchitis and emphysema was 2,981. Again on the estimate of the Royal College of Physicians, 75 per cent of the deaths from chronic bronchitis may be attributed to cigarette smoking.

But let us put the figures in perspective because the total numbers of deaths in Australia in 1970 is shown as 113,048. Deaths from the 2 diseases which I have mentioned are approximately 6,000 of which not all, on the statistical evidence, may be attributed to cigarette smoking. I have quoted those figures to indicate that something less than 5 per cent, it seems to me, of all deaths could be attributed to cigarette smoking. 1 have not worked out the percentages.

Senator Poyser - What about heart disease? You mentioned only lung cancer.

Senator GREENWOOD - I appreciate the point. 1 did not give all the figures which J have in front of me and which I intended to give. Studies have shown that mortality from ischaemic heart disease is greater in cigarette smokers than in nonsmokers. There were 33,939 deaths in Australia from ischaemic heart disease in 1970 and, again on the estimate of the Royal College of Physicians, 25 per cent of those deaths may be attributed to cigarette smoking. That means that something like 10 per cent of all deaths may be attributable to these causes. In saying that I am not seeking to qualify the opinion of the medical experts and the studies which have indicated that there is a very real association between cigarette smoking and health. J am saying that, in terms of total deaths, they are figures which cannot be ignored. 1 feel that it is relevant to look at the circumstances and to consider the steps which people with various points of view would have taken in order to emphasise the nature of the risk. The Government's view is that it is essentially a matter of education and essentially a matter of bringing to people's attention the risks that they run. I do not believe that the approach of the Labor Party, which has, as one of its 2 limbs, the complete banning of cigarette and radio advertising, will achieve the results for which it is contending, and for which results the Government is contending, as effectively as the Government's programme in this area. It must be recognised that advertising on radio and television has been banned in Great Britain since about 1965. For example, the Royal College of Physicians, in its 1971 report, said:

That a simple ban of cigarette advertising would be ineffective is also indicated by the example of countries such as Russia and Italy where there is no advertising of cigarettes and where consumption has steadily risen.

My experience, in the short time that I was Minister for Health, led me to believe that in those countries in which there was a ban on television or radio advertising there had been no appreciable drop in consumption and there had been, in some cases, a continuing increase in the rate of consumption. The position in Russia and Italy is, in itself, significant. With no advertising, the rate of consumption is increasing. I seem to recall that" yesterday Senator Carrick made a point which I thought had equal validity. If one considers the tremendously high consumption of liquor in the USSR where, again, there is no advertising - Russia has almost the highest rate in the world, I think Senator Carrick said - one sees that the fact that advertising is banned does not mean that the result for which we are striving will be achieved.

Is it fair to ban advertising? If the sale of the product is legal there is an unfairness in not allowing a person who is entitled to sell the product to advertise what he has to sell. I do not understand the Opposition to be arguing that it would ban the sale, production or distribution of these products. I understand it to say that it would seek to ban the advertising of them. It is a matter of assessing the risk so as to determine what action ought to be taken so that people may avoid that risk. I think that is the way in which the matter should be looked at. All honourable senators know - I know from my own young children - how strongly an objection to smoking cigarettes is inculcated in the primary schools. Yet there is a stage at which, as the young people grow, they seem to lose this rooted objection to cigarette smoking and they are prepared to engage in it. If we knew why this change seemed to occur generally we would be a long way towards really meeting the heart of the problem. My state of knowledge is such that I believe that the best way to solve the problem is continually to bring before people the consequences that they may experience if they continue with cigarette smoking. Provided we can do that in an effective way, I believe that we are doing the most in our society that we can do.

So we have an education campaign. We have had it for quite some time, but it is being stepped up enormously. Warnings are being put on cigarette packs not because the person who intends to buy the ciagarette pack will see the warning and decide not to buy it but because, if the warnings are on the cigarette packs, they are seen when they are being used or discarded. It is part of the general social consciousness which becomes more apparent. I think it is a fair thing that if television and radio advertising has an impact there should be a warning which gives, the other side of the question so that people may consider it. I think there is a lot of merit in the argument that the warning should include advertising in the Press, the magazines and the glossy advertisements on paper, but I think all honourable senators appreciate that the Commonwealth has not the power to legislate in that area in the same way that it can legislate in relation to television and radio. It is an area in which the States, if they are so minded, can legislate. It may be that one day they will.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Why not have the tar content of cigarettes included in advertising on radio and television?

Senator GREENWOOD - That is not proposed at present. That is something which could come in future. I doubt its effectiveness in communicating to people the risk of which they ought to be informed. People know about tar content, but they really do not appreciate what tar content involves. They sense that if there is a high tar content that is a bad thing. To be given a figure which states a tar content, without knowing whether it is high or low, is not to be given very much information. The real point in sending out the message is to bring home the fact that there is a risk to health and that people ought to be aware of it. That is the theme which I believe is implicit in this Bill and to that extent the Bill is desirable.

There are 2 short matters which I raise in conclusion. The first is that, over the years, there has been a great deal of criticism of the so-called voluntary code.It was a code agreed upon by the manufacturers, the radio and television stations and the Government and was designed mainly to shift the emphasis in advertising. I have looked, as we all have, at the advertising of cigarettes and I think that, generally there has been an observance of the terms of the code. There has been a shift in emphasis and I think that what the cigarette distributors have said has been borne out by the facts. They have sought to advertise amongst themselves with respect to brands and if one examines the changes which have occurred in the sales of various types of cigarettes one sees that there has been a quite remarkable fluctuation. I would have thought that the type of fluctuation which has occurred is directly related to the quality of the advertising. One cannot assess whether or not that advertising does influence people to smoke who otherwise would not be influenced. However, if that influence exists, I think that this type of announcement which is to be made will bring to the people immediately they sense that they might be influenced, the fact that there is a risk. That is the hope, and I think it is on that sort of basis that we all believe that advertising and announcements can operate.

The second pointI make is related to Senator Rae's comments. There is unquestionably a problem which radio stations, particularly in country areas, recognise. They feel that there will be a dropping off in their revenue. Time alone will tell whether that will be the case. Time alone will tell whether there will not be something which will take the place of cigarette advertising if it does drop off, and time alone will tell whether or not the radio stations are sufficiently enterprising to be able to meet the situation which arises. We are faced with a problem which has a widespread recognition and Government would be failing if it did not acknowledge that this problem existed and that it was expected that Government should do something in respect of it.

In all the circumstances, I think that the support for the Bill which has been evidenced in the chamber is a recognition that it is a step in the right direction. As I have said, the Government will oppose the amendment which has been moved by Senator Douglas McClelland on behalf of the Opposition. I do not believe that the banning of advertising is either fair or likely to achieve the result which is intended. It would be a step which would deny or defy the evidence of what has occurred in overseas countries where the ban has been imposed. Therefore, the Government will oppose the amendment.

Question put -

That the words proposed to be added (Senator Douglas McClelland's amendment) be added.

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