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Tobacco bill agreed to by parliament

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Minister for Aged, Family and Health Services Hon. Peter Staples M.P.

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Parliament H ouse, Canberra Phone (06) 277 7220 Fax (06) 273 4146 17 December 1992 PS460/92


A Bill to ban all forms of tobacco advertising other than at the point-of-sale was agreed to by Parliament early today and will become law before Christmas.

The Federal Minister for Aged, Family and Health Services, Peter Staples, described the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act as one of the most significant pieces of public health legislation passed by Parliament in recent years.

"Overseas experience has shown that where similar Government action has been taken there has been a marked decrease in tobacco consumption," he said. "The same will happen here in Australia.

"The bizarre association between sport and tobacco advertising through sponsorship will be broken for good and bans will be applied nationally to outdoor advertising, cinema advertising, and on tobacco merchandise.

"Tobacco won't in future be able to present images of young, healthy people enjoying smoking when in reality the consequence of tobacco consumption is 19,000 smoking related deaths a year."

Mr Staples said there was bipartisan support for the Bill, but it came at a great cost to the authority of the Opposition Leader, John Hewson.

"Dr Hewson was comprehensively rolled by his back-bench when he sought to play politics with the lives of young Australians on this issue," Mr Staples said.

"After heated debate in his shadow cabinet, Dr Hewson decided to oppose the legislation but then did another back-flip when faced with the resolve of some of his own back bench who threatened to cross the floor and vote with the Government."


PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY M1CAH Portfolio of Health, Housing and Community Services


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He said Dr Hewson's embarrassment was added to by the praise the Government received from the Opposition during debate on the legislation. This included:

"...the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Bill 1992 is probably one of the most significant pieces of legislation that this chamber will pass this year, if not over a number of years." - Senator Herron

"Clearly, this legislation will result in an overwhelming benefit in health terms. There is an overwhelming benefit in preventing our kids from taking up smoking. There is also an overwhelming benefit in economic terms in this sort of

legislation. I congratulate the Government on finally producing the legislation." - Dr Bob Woods

Mr Staples said one of the most significant aspects of the legislation was to close the loophole left in the 1976 Fraser Government legislation which permitted incidental tobacco advertising.

"Such was the abuse of this loophole that the Federal Government has left with no alternative but to act decisively," he said.

"To provide some idea of the magnitude of this problem, it has been determined that during a 90 minute telecast of the 1989 Marlboro Grand Prix, Marlboro signage was seen 49.3 per cent of the broadcast time.

"The total number of times Marlboro was seen on screen or mentioned in that 90 minute telecast was a staggering 5,933 occasions and in advertising terms it has been estimated that Marlboro received more than $1.1 million in free publicity."

He said one of the major benefits of the legislation would be to reduce the influence tobacco advertising had on children.

"The tobacco industry would have us believe that tobacco advertising is aimed solely at adults, as if there is some magical barrier which prevents children digesting a smoking ad and only adults are influenced. What rot," he said.


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"Children select the heavily advertised brands more commonly. The NSW Drug and Alcohol Authority estimated in 1987 that Peter Jackson successfully captured 27 per cent of the youth market through advertising in just three years after languishing at 1 per cent in 1983.

"It has also been estimated that three-quarters of current adult smokers began smoking during or before their teenage years. If a person is a non-smoker by the age of 20 they are unlikely to start. Children are major targets of cigarette advertising."

He said the claim tobacco advertising does not encourage people to start smoking but rather encourages people to change brands was also nonsense.

"Tobacco interests would also have us believe that cigarettes run contrary to all other products when it comes to advertising.

"As an Australian advertising agency executive is reported to have said, this argument is so preposterous it is insulting because it flies in the face of all advertising knowledge and experience."

Mr Staples said that the Act was a clear signal to the Australian community that the Government was deeply concerned about tobacco abuse and was taking positive action to reduce its appeal, particularly to children.

Contact: Howard Conkey (06) 277 7220