ISSUE 10 9 FEBRUARY 2005  

EDITORIAL

Just two months have passed since the introduction of smokefree bars and restaurants, and many people are wondering what all the fuss was about. Far from being the end of the world as we know it, the new law has been widely accepted by smokers who seem quite happy to pop outside for a cigarette. Compliance is high, with far fewer complaints than expected.

In the two weeks following the introduction of the smokefree law only 80 complaints were received by the Ministry of Health, and this has now dropped to five to 10 complaints, or less, a week. On average fifty percent of these complaints are from licensed premises, and fifty percent from other workplaces. This low rate of complaints is amazing when you consider that there are over 14,000 liquor licenses in New Zealand. The majority of calls to the Ministry of Health’s freephone information line - 0508 Smokefree or 0508 766 533 - have been from members of the public seeking general information, followed by employers who have queries about the legislation.

Meanwhile non-smokers are breathing easy for the first time in years. A visit to the local bar is no longer synonymous with inhaling lungs-full of other people’s smoke. Smoke that contains hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, acetone, ammonia and arsenic.

The 12 month lead-in period to the ban on smoking in workplaces seems to have worked in its favour. All indoor workplaces, including bars and restaurants, had time to get used to the idea and to prepare for being smokefree. The advertising that started in November left people in no doubt that December 10 was D-day for smoky venues all over the country. Many venues held ‘up in smoke’ or ‘last gasp’ evenings on December 9 to mark the passing of smoky bars, serving such delicacies as smoked muscles, smoked chicken and aged Scottish whiskies ‘with burnt-peat notes’.

December 10 also became a popular quit date for smokers and quit smoking help services such as the Quitline found themselves inundated with calls. Anecdotal reports indicate that many of those who have continued to smoke after December 10 have cut down - particularly those for whom a smoke and a drink went hand-in-hand. People smoke a lot less if they have to go outside to do it.

This is certainly borne out in Ireland, which banned smoking in bars in March 2004, and saw cigarette sales plummet by nearly 18 percent. Irish lungs, as well as Irish eyes, are smiling. Six months after the smokefree workplaces legislation was introduced in Ireland, over 94 percent of premises inspected complied with the law.

The change in attitudes to the New Zealand smokefree workplaces legislation over the past 12 months has been noticeable. Initially, most of the comment reported in the media was negative. But as the months went by, this changed - helped no doubt by the positive reports from Ireland. By October 2004, comments reported in the media were around 80 percent positive. In fact, some publicans chose to go smokefree early, or to have smokefree nights once or twice a week. These nights were successful, and it became clear that smokefree bars would not be a negative and could even be a positive. After all, 75 percent of New Zealanders don’t smoke - that’s a huge, untapped market. And as non-smokers are generally from higher income brackets, they have more money to spend.

So as we look back at the past eight weeks, it becomes clear that smokefree bars and restaurants have really been no big deal. Smokers are going outside, bars and restaurants are busy, non-smokers can breathe easy. In a few years time we’ll have a generation of young people who won’t even remember when you could smoke inside a bar. And the rest of us will wonder why we waited so long.

Hospitality Association, we don’t like to say ‘I told you so’, but…

Leigh Sturgiss
Director
Smokefree Coalition

IN THIS ISSUE:

  • Smokefree Coalition urges Government to act on breaches
  • Court rejects David Simm’s ACC claim
  • Wish for a smokefree world…WSFD 2005
  • Smokefree California 15 years on
  • Plea for tobacco tax to fund quitting
  • National Party plans for smokefree law
  • Hospitality industry ‘coming round’ in New York
  • Tobacco consumption figures
  • ASH seeking communications advisor
  • Pacific Peoples Tobacco Control Action Plan Launch
  • Quotable quotes
  • Media themes

SMOKEFREE COALITION URGES GOVERNMENT TO ACT ON BREACHES

Carlton Hotel owner Geoff Mulvihill does not appear to see the irony of putting a sign saying ‘freedom of choice’ beneath two cigarettes

Further to our story in the last issue of Tobacco Control Update, Timaru hotel owner Geoff Mulvihill is still refusing to comply with the smokefree workplaces law. And Foxton and Marlborough look like they’re getting in on the act.

Foxton Publican Graham Wrigley is very proud of his “smoking bus” which he parks outside his hotel for smokers’ use. MidCentral Health has told Mr Wrigley that the bus falls foul of anti-smoking legislation, but he says that his smoking bus “is worth jail”.

Meanwhile Seddon’s Starborough Tavern proprietor Andy Jackson says he is considering flouting the law after watching the publicity around other bars that are permitting smoking.

“I believe we could have segregated the smokers and the non-smokers. It’s upset a lot of smokers and in a sense it’s upset a lot of non smokers too, when the majority of a family group has to go outside to smoke. It’s totally unsociable.”

Smokefree Coalition Director Leigh Sturgiss says these breaches are not acceptable as they continue to put workers’ health at risk, and she is urging the Ministry of Health to send a clear message to these premises by prosecuting the owners.

“It’s frustrating as the majority of workplaces are complying with the law, but a handful of pub owners have been vocal non-supporters of this legislation and have been getting extensive media coverage as a result. It needs to be made clear that this just isn’t acceptable under the new law.”

Strong words indeed from Timaru's Carlton Hotel

The Smokefree Coalition wrote to Hon Damien O’Connor, Associate Minister of Health, urging that a tough stance needs to be taken with any workplaces not complying with the law.

Mr O’Connor’s reply was:

“Designated smokefree officers are investigating any contravention of the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990, The Ministry of Health's policy is that those who flout the law will face prosecution.

"Although citizens of NZ have a right of free speech, any breach of the legislation that is reported to the Ministry will be investigated. The Ministry follows a policy of a warning, providing information, education and assistance to help employers comply with the Act. If the warnings are not heeded and the law deliberately flouted, prosecutions will follow.”

Leigh Sturgiss says the Smokefree Coalition can’t wait.

COURT REJECTS DAVID SIMM’S ACC CLAIM

A District Court has rejected an appeal for ACC compensation for a Tauranga man who died of lung cancer caused by passive smoking. But his lawyer is vowing to fight on.

Former supermarket manager David Simm, 64, died last June, without ever receiving compensation for the cancer he said he developed from years of inhaling second-hand smoke in supermarket cafeterias.

He had battled ACC for compensation for his injuries, but the claim has been repeatedly rejected because when Mr Simm was first diagnosed and treated, in 1999, ACC legislation excluded passive smoking in its definition of the personal injuries covered. The exclusion was removed in the 2001 Act.

Wellington District Court judge David Ongley rejected lawyer John Miller’s claims that Mr Simm’s injury was continuous and could be covered under the 2001 Act. He also rejected his alternative submission that lung cancer could be considered personal injury caused by an accident and dismissed the appeal.

However, Mr Miller has vowed to continue the fight. He said yesterday he would appeal the case to the High Court and was confident of success. Any compensation won would go to Mr Simm’s estate, but it was the principle as much as anything that Mr Millar was fighting for.

‘Court rejects passive smoking compo appeal’, Dominion Post, 5 February 2005

WISH FOR A SMOKEFREE WORLD…WORLD SMOKEFREE DAY 2005

It might be that time of year again, but this year’s World Smokefree Day is set to be a little different.

The attached poster shows a sneak preview of new imagery taken from the ‘Wishes’ television commercial for World Smokefree Day 2005.

World Smokefree Day organiser Susie Greene says it’s great to be able to make use of the ‘Wishes’ television commercial to give this year’s World Smokefree Day a fresh look.

The 'Wishes' commercial was created just last year and has proved to be popular. It's such a powerful advert, so we're pleased to be able to use it as the basis for this year’s World Smokefree Day theme and imagery.”

A new strapline also marks this year as a little different, and gives World Smokefree Day teams the flexibility to focus on smokefree issues relevant to their communities.

“The new strapline, ‘Wish for a Smokefree world, wishes can come true’ is based on the commercial. World Smokefree Day teams can use the strapline to celebrate smokefree successes to date, but also to work towards more.

“People can link to the national domestic settings campaign, and interpret the theme to suit their community, whether they’re wishing for a smokefree home, marae, car or council park.”

For more information about this year’s World Smokefree Day, check out the World Smokefree Day website, www.worldsmokefreeday.co.nz.

SMOKEFREE CALIFORNIA 15 YEARS ON

We’ve got two months of smokefree bars and clubs under our belt; California has 10 years. And surprise surprise, the California experience has been nothing but positive.

Ninety percent of Californians approve of the state's smokefree workplace law and smoking among youth continues to decline nearly fifteen years after California launched its tobacco control program, and 10 years after the passage of the first statewide smokefree workplace law.

"California's youth have grown up enjoying the benefits of living in America's smokefree zone," said Kim Belshe, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency. "Today we celebrate 15 years of reducing adult and youth smoking, exposure to second-hand smoke and tobacco-caused diseases and deaths."

Recently released results from a new field research poll show that the state's smokefree workplace law has had a major impact on smoking behavior and cessation efforts, and that the majority of Californians support the law.

According to the 2004 field research poll:

  • ninety percent of Californians surveyed, including the majority of smokers, said they approve of the smokefree workplace law
  • fifty-two percent of former smokers who quit in the past 10 years said that having smokefree public places made it easier for them to quit smoking
  • sixty-nine percent of current smokers who attempted to quit in the past 10 years said that smokefree public places helped them reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke
  • people who moved to the state after the law went into effect also overwhelmingly support the smokefree workplace law. Ninety-three percent said they approve of the law and 91 percent said they would recommend that other communities adopt a similar smokefree policy
  • seventy-four percent of Californians surveyed, including nearly half of those who were smokers, agreed that smoking should be prohibited in the outdoor dining areas of restaurants.

"California's smokefree policies are helping to protect people from the dangers of secondhand smoke," said State Public Health Officer Dr Richard Jackson. "The latest field research poll provides evidence that these policies also help smokers quit their deadly addiction."

Joseph W. Cherner, SACRAMENTO, Calif., 25 January 2005

PLEA FOR TOBACCO TAX TO FUND QUITTING

The Government should use the revenue from tobacco tax to help fund quitting according to University of Otago public health researchers Drs Nick Wilson and George Thomson.

In an article published in the international journal Social Science and Medicine, Drs Wilson and Thomson say tobacco taxes are the most cost effective way of reducing smoking and saving lives. But they report that these taxes can also contribute to financial hardship.

They detail Australian studies showing that spending on tobacco reduces the amount of money available for basic household necessities such as clothing, footwear and food. New Zealand research also shows tobacco spending reduced the money available for basic necessities by 14 percent for some low-income households.

To reduce the risk of these problems, Drs Wilson and Thomson suggest that it would be more ethical if the government did far more to support quitting - and use tobacco tax revenue to fund this.

“Using all tobacco tax revenue for tobacco control programmes would reduce the injustice of using smokers as a captive revenue source, where the means of capture (addiction to tobacco) is extremely dangerous.”

NATIONAL PARTY PLANS FOR SMOKEFREE LAW

Media reports have suggested that the National Party would hold a referendum on the smokefree law if elected this year says Smokefree Coalition Director Leigh Sturgiss.

“If this really is the case, it’s a big concern. We’ve only just got these laws implemented, and already the results have been amazingly positive. It would be devastating to see all this good work undone.”

The Smokefree Coalition wrote to National Party leader Don Brash querying National’s stance on the smokefree issue.

His reply was:

“Thank you for your letter asking whether a National Government would repeal the new smokefree legislation. The legislation you refer to was a conscience vote for all Members of Parliament, and any change to it would require the introduction of a private Member's Bill.”

Leigh Sturgiss says that this reply doesn’t really answer the question of whether or not National would hold a referendum, but does at least indicate that it does not appear to want to introduce government legislation to repeal the 2003 Amendment.

HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY ‘COMING ROUND’ IN NEW YORK

In 2002, when the City Council was weighing Mayor Michael R Bloomberg’s proposal to eliminate smoking from all indoor public places, few opponents were more fiercely outspoken than James McBratney, president of the Staten Island Restaurant and Tavern Association.

He accused Mr Bloomberg of being a billionaire dictator with a prohibitionist streak that would undo small businesses like his bar and his restaurant. Visions of customers streaming to the legally smoke-filled pubs of New Jersey kept him awake at night.

Asked last week what he thought of the now two-year-old ban, Mr McBratney sounded changed. “I have to admit,” he said sheepishly, “I’ve seen no falloff in business in either establishment.”

He went on to describe what he once considered unimaginable: customers actually seem to like it and so does he.

By many predictions, the smoking ban, which went into effect on 30 March 2003, was to be the beginning of the end of the city’s reputation as the capital of grit. Its famed nightlife would wither, critics warned, bar and restaurant businesses would sink, tourists would go elsewhere, and the mayor who wrought it all would pay a hefty price at the polls. And then there were those who said that city smokers, a rebellious class if ever there was one, simply would not abide.

But a review of city statistics, as well as interviews last week with dozens of bar patrons, workers and owners, found that the ban has not had the crushing effect on New York’s economic, cultural and political landscape predicted by many of its opponents.

Employment in restaurants and bars has risen slightly since the ban went into effect, as has the number of restaurant permits requested and held. City health inspectors report that 98 percent of bars and restaurants are in compliance. Data from the first year of the ban showed that restaurant and bar tax receipts were up by 8.7 percent from the previous year.

‘In barrooms, smoking ban is less reviled’, New York Times, 6 February 2005

TOBACCO CONSUMPTION FIGURES OUT SOON

Figures detailing the number of cigarettes available for consumption in the year ended 2004 will be available on the Statistics New Zealand website, www.stats.govt.nz, on 25 February.

The volume of cigarettes and tobacco available for consumption represents tobacco products cleared for local consumption on which duty has been paid.

In 2003, the number of cigarettes available for consumption was at the lowest recorded level since Statistics began collecting tobacco consumption data in 1973.

ASH SEEKING COMMUNICATIONS ADVISOR

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is a non-profit charitable trust that is dedicated to preventing the uptake of smoking among young people and reducing the prevalence rate of smoking among all New Zealanders.

There is currently an opportunity for a communications person with a tertiary qualification and at least one year of work experience to join this organisation as the communications advisor.

The responsibilities include:

  • the development, implementation and evaluation of the communications plan
  • initiating and responding to issues in the media
  • maintenance and ongoing development of the website
  • developing and maintaining positive relationships with key stakeholders such as health reporters and other tobacco control workers
  • provision of assistance and support to ASH and other not-for-profit agency staff on media relations.

The ideal person will:

  • have a relevant tertiary qualification
  • have at least one year work experience in a similar role
  • be committed to the goals of ASH
  • be creative, enthusiastic and motivated
  • be able to plan unique communication interventions
  • have initiative to frequently generate positive unpaid media
  • have self management skills to be able to work independently and without close supervision.

Please e-mail your CV to the attention of Becky Freeman bfreeman@ash.org.nz. Phone 09 520 4866 for more information.

PACIFIC PEOPLES TOBACCO CONTROL ACTION PLAN LAUNCH

An action plan for addressing the high rate of smoking among Pacific peoples is to be launched on 25 February by the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Helen Clark at Sorrento restaurant in Auckland.

Invitations will be sent out later on this week. Please contact Linda Tasi on 04 460 9878 or linda.tasi@quit.org.nz for further information.

The Pacific Peoples Tobacco Control Action Plan was developed by a working group nominated at two Pacific Tobacco Control fono held in 2003. The Fono brought together Pacific health workers, researchers, community leaders and organisations with an interest in Pacific peoples and tobacco control.

The fono included workshop discussions with participants and highlighted several issues that need to be addressed in relation to Pacific tobacco control.

QUOTEABLE QUOTES

“They can send me to jail if they like. I won’t mind. I need the holiday.”

Foxton publican Graham Wrigley comments on his “smoking bus”, New Zealand Herald, 2 February 2005

“It is the best thing the government has ever done and it should have come in years ago. The air is so clean in here now and we have no ashtrays to empty.”

Jenny Walker at the Masonic Hotel in Dannevirke where smokefree laws are “working well”, Dannevirke Evening News, 25 January 2005

“I can remember when you used to smoke at the movies, on the trains and on the buses - you no longer do that and you accept it; I guess this is the same.”

Rotorua RSA secretary manager Roly Rolston, where business is up 8 percent over the holiday period, Rotorua Review, 25 January 2005

“Fewer people are loathing me, and a lot more are coming up and saying ‘Golly, it’s going a lot more smoothly than I thought’, so I think that’s great. It was as I expected, but it appears to have been a smoother transition than (the government) expected. Some (publicans) were nervous about it before, but those who’ve said they were never going to (pubs and clubs) again have actually come in and are continuing to be regulars.”

Steve Chadwick, Rotorua Review, 25 January 2005

“This data is very worrying for tobacco vendors. Although they understand the spirit of the law and the need to teach citizens about their health, vendors are seeing their profits fall drastically.”

Assotabaccai Confesercentri chairman Maurizio Bruni commenting on the ban on smoking in public places in Italy, and a subsequent 23 percent drop in cigarette sales, Hawkes Bay Today,
21 January 2005

MEDIA THEMES

Smokefree bars proving profitable after all…

Smoking bans in local clubs did not affect trade unduly over the Christmas-New Year holiday period.

Managers of three clubs – the RSA, the Rotorua Club and Rotorua Citizens Clubs – met with Rotorua MP Steve Chadwick on December 10 to voice their concerns over possible loss of trade as a result of the ban.

But Roly Rolston, RSA secretary manager, told the Review that trade over the holiday period had increased 8 percent.

“Basically, business as usual,” Mr Rolston said. “People have accepted it, they go outside for a smoke in fours or fives or 10s, and it’s like a carnival activity – a bit more fun.”

He said the RSA’s December income was “up, quite considerably”, and while people did not like the ban they complied with it.

“Local clubs take stock”, Rotorua Review, 25 January 2005

Smokefree compliance no problem in Dannevirke

The recent Smokefree legislation that came into force last month appears to be working well in Dannevirke. Most Dannevirke eating establishments, with one exception, have reported little or no drop-off in trade, since the introduction of the provisions on December 10.

Some such as Annette Lilo, who owns Café Annie, said that she now likes it much better.

“We have had no problems,” she said. “Those who want to smoke simply ask for an ashtray and take a seat outside.”

“Smokefree laws work well in Dannevirke”, Dannevirke Evening News, 25 January 2005

Quit smoking attempts on the rise

Health services are reporting a large increase in numbers wanting to stop smoking.

They report a doubling – or nearly trebling in some cases – in the number of world-be non-smokers seeking help to quit after legislation came into force in December banning smoking in licensed premises and workplaces.

Piki Te Ora quit coach Hinehuia Cooney says there has been a steady increase in self-referrals since October. In the past quarter, they were approached by 428 people wanting to quit, compared with 163 for the same period a year earlier.

Quitline spokeswomen Juliet Corney says nationally the number of callers nearly doubled last month to 2563 callers, up from 1300.

“It was particularly interesting, because December’s usually a slow month for us. We’re sure the legislation has had an impact.”

“More line up to butt out”, North Taranaki Midweek, 19 January 2005

Smoking banned in UK football stadium

Arsenal fans will no longer be allowed to smoke in their seats during games, following a ban on smoking at the football stadium in Highbury. The decision to implement the stadium smoking ban was unanimously agreed by the board, and the club says most fans are in favour.

Arsenal has introduced the ban because of complaints about passive smoking and intends to keep the no-smoking policy when they move into the new Emirates Stadium next year. Stadium manager John Beattie says they surveyed hundreds of supporters and found 80 per cent backed a ban.

"This is a customer care issue. We have reflected the opinions of a significant number of our supporters and this is why the policy is being introduced. Our research has clearly shown that supporters' attitudes towards smoking is changing."

“No butts, smoking is banned at football stadium”
GLOBALink News and Information, 17 January 2005

UK pub giant takes the smokefree plunge

Tim Martin, the founder of the JD Wetherspoon pub chain, has proposed a total smoking ban across his 650 venues, two years before Government restrictions come into force - a move he previously condemned as "commercial suicide".

The company defended its decision, which knocked 3 percent off its shares yesterday, saying it was reacting to changing public opinion. "An increasing percentage of the population are giving up smoking and a significant number of people are staying away from pubs and restaurants because they are too smoky," Mr Martin said. "We now feel it is the right time to go one step further."

He pledged to have 10 percent of Wetherspoon pubs non-smoking by May and all its pubs smokefree by May 2006. It already has a non-smoking pub in Exeter.

Although a long-standing advocate of an all-out smoking ban, Mr Martin has previously said he would wait for the industry to move as a group on a smoking ban, so as not to lose trade from smokers who could go elsewhere. But the tide against smoking, he says, is now too strong.

"We believe we will seize a commercial advantage because, given the trends on smoking, we think we are reading public opinion right," he said. "We will bring people back into pubs that are staying at home at present."

“Pub giant to bring in smoking ban early”
GLOBALink News and Information, 17 January 2005

Quit smoking…or else

Four employees at a healthcare company based in Michigan have been fired after they refused the firm’s ultimatum to quit smoking. If the company, Weyco, survives any legal challenges, it will encourage a growing trend.

Across the US, companies are doing everything they can to encourage their staff to stop smoking, to cut their spending on healthcare insurance. Some firms are even refusing to hire applicants who admit they smoke.

“Employees are realising the majority of health costs are spent on a small minority of workers,” said Bill Whitmer, chief executive of the Health Enhancement Research Organisation, an employer and healthcare coalition.

“Fired for smoking”, Herald on Sunday (The Independent), 30 January 2005

Tobacco kills nearly 5 million in 2000

Smoking killed nearly 5 million people worldwide in 2000, with men more than three times as likely as women to go to an early grave, according to a study published on Wednesday in the journal Tobacco Control.

Globally, the leading cause of smoking-related deaths was cardiovascular disease, which killed more than 1 million people in the industrialised world and 670,000 in developing countries, the study’s authors found.

That was followed by lung cancer in industrialised nations and chronic obstructive airways disease, which includes illnesses such as bronchitis, in developing countries.

More than half of all deaths occurred in smokers between the ages of 30 and 69, said the researchers based at Harvard University and the University of Queensland.

They attributed an increase in smoking around the world since 1975 to one in 10 deaths among all adults, and almost one in five in men.

“Five million smokers died worldwide in 2002 – study”,
Westport News (Reuters), 25 January 2005

Tobacco not all bad….

Tobacco may have at least one virtue – that of providing some protection against the onset of Parkinson’s disease, according to a new Swedish study.

Researchers at the Karolinska Institute, Sweden’s leading medical research center, looked at the medical and death records of sets of Swedish twins in which one smoked and the other did not.

“Many studies have shown a protective effect of cigarette smoking on Parkinson’s disease,” the Annals of Neurology study said.

“Tobacco not entirely bad”, Manawatu Standard (NZPA/AFP), 26 January 2005

Norway’s smokefree success

The grim forecasts of widespread bankruptcies in the pub, bar and restaurant sector after Norway's introduction of a total ban on smoking in workplaces have proved mistaken, at least so far. The number of bankruptcies in the risky industry has declined since the smoking ban has been in place.

In 2003, 386 businesses in the sector went bust. In 2004 this declined slightly to 372, with 338 restaurants and 34 bars closing their doors.

The indoor smoking ban was set to be the toughest in the world, but the health minister decided not to start the measure by sending smokers out into the wintry cold, and delayed the ban until 1 June 2004, allowing Ireland to enforce a similar law two months earlier.

Aftenposten English Web Desk/NTB, 31 January 2005

Cuba cuts out cigars and cigs

Cuba, the land of the fine cigar, will ban smoking in enclosed public spaces starting next month.

A resolution in the latest government gazette prohibits smoking in offices, stores, theatres, buses and taxis, schools, sports facilities and air-conditioned public areas.

The government says it wants to discourage tobacco use. About half of Cuban adults smoke and lung cancer is a major cause of death.

The measure seeks to change long-ingrained habits in the communist country of 11 million people where subsidised cigarettes – unfiltered and made of strong dark tobacco – are still handed out with the government ration book.

“Cuba to curb cigars, cigarettes”, Northern Advocate (Reuters), 21 January 2005