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Wednesday, 31 May 1972
Page: 2399


Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - This legislation, known as the Broadcasting and Television Bill 1972 (No. 2), was introduced into the House of Representatives on 10th May and its passage through that place illustrates so typically the manner in which this Government is dealing with important legislation. The purpose of the Bill is to require licensees of commercial television and broadcasting stations to ensure that every advertisement on radio and television for cigarettes or cigarette tobacco is followed immediately by a 3-second announcement warning of the dangers to health of cigarette smoking. At this stage I intend to move an amendment, which I understand has been circulated, to the motion for the second reading of the Bill. On behalf of the Opposition I move:

At end of motion add - ', but the Senate is of the opinion that the Bill should ban all cigarette and tobacco advertising by commercial broadcasting and television stations and the Commonwealth should undertake a vigorous advertising campaign through broadcasting and television to educate the public, especially young people, on the serious health hazards associated with cigarettes and tobacco'.

Whilst we of the Opposition will not oppose the Bill other than by way of moving that amendment to the motion for the second reading of the Bill, nonetheless during the course of the Committee stage we will be seeking to amend the Bill as it now stands. When the Government originally introduced the Bill it intended that there should be a warning for 5 seconds at the conclusion of any advertisement for ciga rettes and tobacco. The Bill was amended in the other place in order to provide that the period of the warning would be reduced from 5 seconds to 3 seconds. We will be seeking to have the Bill amended so as to return to the original intention of having a warning for a period of 5 seconds. lt is interesting when dealing with this subject to note a report which appeared in the 'Sydney Morning Herald' of 29th May 1972 - last Monday. The President of the Australian Medical Association, Dr R. H. Macdonald, was reported to have attacked what he said was the 'watering down' of health warnings accompanying advertisements for cigarettes on radio and television. The report went on to state:

The original wording of the warning was: 'The National Health and Medical Research Council warns that smoking is dangerous to 'health'.

Parliament changed this to:' 'Medical authorities warn that smoking is a health hazard'.

The Opposition in the other "place opposed that amendment. This report continued:

Dr Macdonaldsaid that the AMA had recently set up a committee in Victoria to study proposals to increase the number of non-smokers.

The committee has drawn my attention to the watering down of the proposed health warning, and I agree with the committee that the change is to be deplored', he said.

Dr Macdonaldsaid that to remove the name of the National Health and Medical Research Council and replace it with a vague and anonymous phrase 'medical authorities' was a weakening of the message.

The use of the words "health hazard" instead of "dangerous to health" also reduces the impact of the message', he said.

Reducing the length of the message from 5 seconds to 3 seconds means that it will be seen and heard for 40 per cent less time than was previously intended, considerably diminishing the impact,' Dr Macdonald said.

I have already said that the passage of the Bill in the other place was quite amazing, to say the least. When the Government introduced the legislation on 10th May it was intended that there would be a 5 seconds warning announcement stating: The National Health and Medical Research Council warns that cigarette smoking is dangerous to health'. During the Committee stage of the Bill in the other place the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) circulated an amendment which would have reduced the 5 seconds warning to 4 seconds and would have made it read: The Australian Government warns that smoking is a health hazard'. After that amendment had been circulated by the Postmaster-General, a Government back bencher circulated another amendment requiring a message of 3 seconds duration stating: 'Medical authorities warn that smoking is a health hazard'. That is as the Bill stands at present. So we are now to have the ignominious situation under this legislation in which for cigarettes and cigarette tobacco there is to be a 3-second statement that medical authorities warn that smoking is a health hazard - smoking, not cigarette smoking or cigarette tobacco smoking. However, for advertisements relating to cigar smoking and pipe smoking, even though apparently the Government considers that medical authorities warn that smoking is a health hazard, no warning is to be given, as I read the legislation, on commercial television or radio.

For the purposes of this debate let me have set down in print exactly what is the policy of the Australian Labor Party as determined at its Federal Conference in Launceston last year:

Prohibition of cigarette and tobacco advertising in all forms . . .

And I emphasise those last words, 'in all forms': . . coupled with a vigorous campaign to educate the public, especially young people, on the serious health hazards associated with cigarettes and tobacco.

Quite clearly, although this Bill goes some little distance along that road, and it is axiomatic that the Labor movement will not oppose it, certainly in our opinion the legisation does not go far enough. According to figures made available to me by the research section of the Parliamentary Library, for the year ended December 1971 advertising expenditure by the cigarette companies through the principal media - and I shall elaborate the details of this later - amounted to more than $10m. The sum of $10m was spent last year by the cigarette companies on the advertising of cigarettes and tobaccos. This Government apparently intends to counter that type of expenditure by providing a mere $500,000 a year for 3 years- in other words, $1,500,000 over 3 years - compared with $30m over 3 years spent by the tobacco companies, for the purpose of conducting, in association with the States, a so-called education programme, aimed at informing the public of the dangers to health of cigarette smoking. How anyone can possibly say that, a vigorous campaign can be conducted with that amount of money compared with the amount that is spent on the advertising of the product is quite beyond me.

Let me trace the history of the matter in Australia. For some considerable time - for a number of years - the Australian Broadcasting. Control Board has. said that very careful consideration would have to be given before the Board as a single agency of the Commonwealth could take action on its own initiative outside the general context of health policy on this matter. Therefore, for some years the government instrumentality controlling commercial television and radio, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, has been awaiting positive policy to be announced so far as Government action on cigarette advertising is concerned. The Government not having done anything about the matter, in 1966 - 6 years ago - the cigarette manufacturers and the Federation .of Australian Commercial Television Stations agreed to a voluntary code governing the advertising of cigarettes on television. Obviously this was agreed to only because of public concern, and of medical concern, and as a result of medical knowledge that was being passed on to the public about the evidence that cigarette smoking and cigarette tobacco smoking was dangerous, to health. It was a code agreed to by those 2 groups after a request was made to them by both the Commonwealth and State, health authorities. The request was that cigarette advertising be not directed to . young children but rather to persons who already smoked cigarettes or cigarette tobacco, in order to induce them merely to. change from one brand of cigarettes or one brand of tobacco to another.

That voluntary code operated, ineffectually, from 1966 until last year when the Minister now at the 1 table, Senator Greenwood, the Attorney-General, was the Minister for Health.. On 3rd May 1971 Senator Greenwood, in a ministerial statement indicated how ineffectual the 1966 voluntary code was, for on that day he announced a revised code in his capacity as Minister for Health. In doing so he was reported as saying, among other things:

Senator Greenwoodsaid that the existing voluntary code for advertising of cigarettes was not sufficiently restrictive nor explicit and this further step had been taken in order to shift the emphasis on cigarette smoking, especially on television, away from young people.

So the 1966 voluntary code, deliberately drawn up to direct cigarette advertising away from young people, was altered in 1971 for the very simple reason that it had not been successful in shifting the emphasis away from young people. Senator Greenwood went on in May of last year to say that, the limitations of the new code involved a revision of the existing voluntary code and the placing of restrictions on the television advertising of cigarettes during children's peak viewing periods.

So, although in a number of other countries^ - namely the United States, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden and the other Scandinavian countries, to mention those that come immediately to my mind - there is no advertising either on television or on radio of cigarettes or cigarette tobacco, the Australian Government in this legislation is taking the easy course, is treading the half-way path, in an endeavour to appease those who advocate a complete ban, on the one hand, and those who do not want any interference at all, on the other hand.


Senator Greenwood - In those countries you mention there was no reduction in consumption, was there?


Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) -

There may not have been a reduction in consumption, although that again is questionable on some of the figures I have seen. Senator Greenwood mentions that there was no reduction in consumption. I suppose he is referring, by way of illustration, to the United States of America. There the advertising was banned on radio and television, but it was not banned in the newspapers or in the glossy magazines, as apparently it has not been banned in this country. Also, I ask the honourable senator to bear in mind that at the time cigarette advertising was tolerated on radio and television in the United States of America there was what was known as a fairness doctrine. If an organisation did not have the financial wherewithal to com pete with an organisation or a group of companies that did have the wherewithal, then it was laid down by the Federal Communications Commission that the commercial stations involved had to give the organisation with financial limits the same time to advertise in competition with those that did have the money. In 1969 when I was in the United States, shortly after every cigarette advertisement, there was an advertisement advocating the complete banning of cigarettes. If this Government did that in Australia I suggest that in many respects this country would be far better off. That is one answer which I can immediately give to the AttorneyGeneral. ~

How was this decision which is now before the Parliament arrived at? On 20th March this year the Federal Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) issued a Press statement saying that the Australian Health Ministers, during their meeting in Queensland earlier that month, had given consideration to the whole question of cigarette advertising but that no finality had been reached. Sir Kenneth Anderson went on to say that he had told the State Ministers that he believed that if any one State imposed a complete ban on cigarette advertising, under the programme standards provisions of the Broadcasting and Television Act it would result automatically in cigarette advertising on television and radio being banned in that State. However, some of the State Ministers questioned the legal position involved. It was agreed that the Commonwealth would seek to have the legal position clarified. I think that this Parliament should be told whether the legal position has been clarified in relation to a State completely banning cigarette advertising within its boundaries and, if so, what the legal situation is.

On 23rd April another Press statement was issued by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson stating that the Commonwealth had decided that it would introduce legislation in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory requiring warning labels on cigarette packages as soon as possible without waiting for all States to do so. In addition, it would require warning labels on all packages of cigarettes that were imported. So far as J know that legislation has not been forthcoming to the Parliament. If that provision has been introduced by some other organisation, by way of regulation or in any way other than by legislation coming through the Parliament, I would be interested to know. I understand that agreement has been reached about some type of uniformity on the labelling of cigarettes. But I ask the Attorney-General and the Government: Why cannot the packets as well as the television warnings set out in bold, black type the percentage tar content of the particular brands and radio warnings give similar emphasis to this aspect. I would think that would be very effective not only in reducing the level of smoking but also in attracting those who do smoke to use a lower-tar-content cigarette. This would reduce to a certain extent the many hazards for those who do smoke. It appears to me that in all the Press statements which have been issued on this matter no-one has given consideration to including the tar content of a brand of cigarettes on the label.

I shall now deal with the proposed educational campaign. The Minister for Health, Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, in his Press statement of 24th April said that he hoped to convene a meeting of Commonwealth and State Health Ministers on 2nd May. He said that at that meeting, among other things, he would give a general outline of the Commonwealth Government's plans for a national health programme against cigarette smoking. I have not seen the details of the actual educational campaign which is intended other than what is contained in the Minister's second reading speech, which merely glosses over the effect of the educational campaign, and a statement which appeared in the Minister's Press statement of 23rd April which stated that the Government had decided, among other things, to implement a national health educational programme directed towards young people. I do not know whether the details of the actual educational campaign have been given to the State Health Ministers. If they have I would like to know what they are. As I have said, they certainly have not been elucidated in the Minister's second reading speech; there was merely a bald, overall statement about a campaign costing some $500,000 a year for 3 years which will be conducted in association with the States. The campaign is to inform the public of the dangers of cigarette, smoking - not the hazards. Frankly, I , had hoped that the Government in presenting this legislation would give to the Parliament a more detailed outline of its proposed educational programme and that it would say that because the cigarette companies are spending about $10m a year on cigarette advertising and cigarette tobacco smoking, it will expend minimally something like $4m or $5m a year on an educational campaign.

In addition I had hoped that the . Government would say that a fair proportion of this money would be spent on commercial radio and television, particularly in support of Australian produced programmes, and especially- in children's viewing and listening times. There the Government would be achieving two things by such expenditure. It would achieve the stimulation of the Australian television production industry and- also it really would be effectively conducting an educational campaign directed at the younger generation of Australians. But, be that as it may, I shall now cite some figures which I mentioned earlier in the bald. These have been produced for me by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library Statistical Service. They are very interesting figures. According to the research service of the Parliamentary Library the advertising expenditure incurred by cigarette companies in the main media in the year ending December 1971 was: For daily newspapers, $390,300; and for Sunday newspapers, $61,800. For newspapers this makes a total of $452,100. The amount expended on women's magazines was $41,300 and on general manazines, $204,800; making a total of $246,100. In relation to metropolitan commercial television the amount expended was $6,055,800; on country commercial television it was $1,963,700. This makes a total for television of $8,019,500. The amount expended on metropolitan radio was $1,334,500. Honourable senators will note that it excludes commercial country radio stations. The total expenditure incurred by the cigarette companies in the year ended December 1971 was $10,052,300. I regarded those figures as very interesting, because $10,052,000 is a fair amount to be spent in one year.


Senator McAuliffe - More than the Queensland State grant this year.


Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is a great amount, as the honourable senator will agree, and it is much more than that which is being paid to the State of Queensland.


Senator Greenwood - The election was over last Saturday.


Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Be that as it may, there is another one coming on in 4 or 5 months time, I remind the Attorney-General. Although $10,052,000 is a fair amount to be spent on the advertising of cigarettes and cigarette tobacco, it is a mere drop in the bucket compared with the excise duty on tobacco and cigarettes collected by the Commonwealth Government. I seek leave of the Senate to have incorporated in Hansard an answer provided on 9th December 1971 by the Federal Treasurer (Mr Snedden) for my colleague in another place the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman). It was furnished in reply to question on notice No. 4041 in another place.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows):

Mr Sneddenthe Acting Commonwealth Statistician has supplied the following information in reply to the honourable member's question:

(I)   Apparent Consumption of Cigarettes in Australia. (Apparent consumption in the table below is estimated on the basis of total customs and excise clearances of cigarettes for home consumption. No details are available on changes in stocks of cigarettes held after clearance and therefore it is not possible to calculate consumption by making allowance for these changes.)

 

(2)   Gross Excise Duty Paid on Cigarettes and Tobacco.

 


Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES)

That shows that for the year 1970-71 the gross excise duty paid on cigarettes was $256,671,769- not a bad whack for the Commonwealth - and for tobacco it was $15,553,491.


Senator Hannan - What was the first figure?


Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - It was $256,671,769 - in respect of the gross excise duty paid on cigarettes. That was a preliminary figure, subject to revision as at the date it was recorded in Hansard, 9th December 1971. It is very interesting indeed to compare how the figures have gone up the scale or down the scale since 1966 when the voluntary code for cigarette advertising was introduced. In 1967, the year after the code was introduced, the amount of gross excise duty paid on cigarettes and tobacco was about $200,638,000. Despite the voluntary code, by 1971 it had jumped to $256,671,000.


Senator Little - The rate of excise went up.


Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - It may have done. Did it go down for cigarette tobacco? In 1967 the amount collected by way of excise on tobacco was $17,102,000 and in 1971 it was a mere $15,553,000. What was the effect of the voluntary code on cigarette and tobacco advertising? In short, what happened was that after the voluntary code was introduced the amount of gross excise duty paid on cigarettes rose by some $56m but the amount of gross excise duty paid on tobacco fell by $2m. Probably the figures that I have read out explain the Treasurer's statement in reply to a question without notice that was asked of him by one of bis colleagues, the Government Whip, Mr Fox, on the same day. The question asked by Mr Fox was as follows:

I ask the Treasurer: ls he aware that there is a strong body of medical opinion which suggests that there is a relationship between cigarette smoking and the incidence of lung cancer and heart disease, the major cause of these diseases being considered to be the tar content of cigarettes? In an endeavour to persuade manufacturers to produce cigarettes with a lower tar content, will the Treasurer consider providing a sliding scale of excise duties so that those brands which have the lowest tar content will attract the lowest rates of duty? If the answer is in the affirmative, will he take into consideration both the gain to revenue from excise duty on cigarettes and the cost to the taxpayer of providing medical treatment and hospitalisation for sufferers from heart disease and lung cancer?

The Treasurer - I dare say, having in mind the coffers of the Commonwealth - replied on the same day that he replied to the question on notice by Dr Klugman as follows:

Like everybody else, I am concerned about the prevalence of lung cancer and heart disease, but whether those diseases are directly caused by cigarette smoking I do not know. So far I have not seen any conclusive evidence to that effect and, as I understand the position, there is still argument on the question. The balance of opinion seems to' bc that there is a direct causal connection. If this is so I would think it is more a matter for the Department of Health. I do not favour the use of revenue procedures to encourage or discourage something which relates directly to the health of the community. However, I will give close attention to the honourable gentleman's question to see whether the course he suggests is practicable.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Order! The honourable senator's time has expired.







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