Nicola Roxon interview

Friday, 31 August 2012  at 15:15

Great article on the spearhead behind plain packs in Australia:

Nicola Roxon, the woman credited with spearheading the Federal Government's unprecedented win over 'big tobacco' has spoken of the personal motivation behind her drive to see Australia become the first country to legislate plain packaging of cigarettes.
The ABC's Australian Story has taken a behind-the-scenes look at what drives Australia's first female Attorney-General, and the impact the tobacco-related death her father had on her time in Cabinet.
Ms Roxon was 10 when her father Jack Roxon died of a tobacco-related illness.
The family had arrived in London for a year's sabbatical and within three months of diagnosis, Mr Roxon was dead.
"I have very strong memories of Dad, sort of talking about what you should do in the community, if you were gifted with any talents, you know, how you should use them or how you should stand up for people," she said.
"Very quickly we knew that it was serious and that he had cancer of various parts of the oesophagus.
"I don't think I was really old enough to know how precious that last little bit of time was. But it was a very difficult family time and I don't really think it actually hit me that Dad was going to die until he did."
I don't think my family history has been the reason for doing this, [but] it probably gives you a bit of extra motivation.
Nicola Roxon
Ms Roxon said her father's passing at a young age was a sign of the times, an era when far less was known about smoking-related diseases.
"He stopped smoking when we were quite young because he knew it was dangerous. We wish obviously he'd stopped earlier," she said.
"It must have been a huge struggle, but I have to say, as a child in that family I didn't feel it.
"Mum made so sure that we were protected, I think, from that and our life went on largely as it had you know a big gap because Dad was such a forceful personality and such a loving Dad.
But she says as health minister and Attorney-General she was in a position to try reduce smoking levels.
"When you have someone in your family die of cancer of course if you see an opportunity to prevent other families going through the same thing you would grab it," she told Australian Story.
"I don't think my family history has been the reason for doing this, [but] it probably gives you a bit of extra motivation.
"I will sleep very easy to know that I've done all I can to prevent other families going through the same thing."

'Rock star' Roxon

The plain packaging policy came out of a preventative health taskforce Ms Roxon convened to save money in the health system by avoiding health conditions, where possible during her time as health minister in the Rudd government.
The bold move to ban branding on cigarette packets saw Ms Roxon garner plenty of international attention and support.
"When Australia does something the world listens," New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, and anti-smoking campaigner, said of the policy.
"Here in America and certainly my foundation we've been watching what's going on in Australia.
"Smoking this century will kill a billion people unless we do something about it and Nicola Roxon is a rock star among those people who are trying to save lives."
Ms Roxon says she has got satisfaction from the eventual, long-fought success of the plain-packaging legislation because of the community health benefits she foresees.
"If we can just take away even one reason that a young person might decide to pick up a packet of cigarettes and try them and then get addicted, then that's worth it, and I think that it will have an impact, but time will tell us that," she said.
Smoking this century will kill a billion people unless we do something about it and Nicola Roxon is a rock star among those people who are trying to save lives.
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg
The policy's introduction has its opponents though, and Ms Roxon's approach has attracted criticism.
"Nicola's often criticised that she's part of a nanny state and that she's the principal nanny," her husband Michael Kerrisk says.
"Water off a duck's back. I mean Nicola's got an agenda that she wants to pursue and it's a cheap cheap shot at somebody who's done an effective job in two very senior portfolios to date."
It has seen her become a regular target of the Coalition opposition, including shadow Attorney-General George Brandis.
"I think Nicola Roxon is a perfectly pleasant person but I do think that she has a very ideological approach," he said.
"It's very much a 'government knows best tone' and that's why I did have a go at her when she was first appointed as Attorney-General and she was asked about her priorities and she talked about the tobacco litigation.
"It seems to me that it ought not to be the top of mind issue for a newly instated Attorney-General."

Huge day for Plain Packs in Australia

Wednesday, 15 August 2012  at 09:02

Australia's highest court has upheld a new government law on mandatory packaging for cigarettes that removes brand colours and logos from packaging.
The law requires cigarettes to be sold in olive green packets, with graphic images warning of the consequences of smoking.
The new packaging rules are scheduled to be implemented from 1 December 2012.
"At least a majority of the court is of the opinion that the Act is not contrary to (Australia's constitution)," the court said in a brief statement.
The full judgement is expected to be published on a later date.
The law was passed by the government last year. Authorities have said that plain packaging of cigarettes will help reduce the number of smokers in the country.
Australia's new tough packaging laws are the first of their kind to be implemented in the world.
However, many other countries such as New Zealand, India, the UK and even some states in the US have been contemplating taking similar measures in a bid to reduce the number of smokers.
Jonathan Liberman, director of the McCabe Center for Law and Cancer, said the ruling was likely to give a boost to other countries looking to take similar steps.
"It shows to everybody that the only way to deal with the tobacco industry's claims, sabre rattling and legal threats is to stare them down in court," he said.
The BBC's Sydney correspondent Duncan Kennedy said the decision may have global ramifications for the cigarette makers.
"Whilst Australia might be a relatively small cigarette market, tobacco companies know that losing here could lead to a deluge of legislation elsewhere in their really big markets."

Hundreds of thousands support plain packs!

Friday, 10 August 2012  at 10:32

Over 200,000 people in the UK have backed a move to place tobacco products in plain packaging in an attempt to reduce the 340,000 children who try smoking each year in the UK.

Plain packaging would mean that all tobacco packaging will be required to look the same and all brand names would have to be written in a standard typeface, colour and size. All other trademarks, logos, colour schemes and graphics would be banned.

Evidence indicates that plain packaging could make tobacco look less attractive to children; help make the health warnings stand out more; and may even stop children believing that some tobacco brands are less harmful than others.

Smokefree South West, which was set up to tackle smoking issues in the region, led the national initiative with support from major national charities and health organisations. A dedicated website www.plainpacksprotect.co.uk was set up to provide information for the public and encourage them to sign up and support the campaign.

Fiona Andrews, Director of Smokefree South West said:
‘It is a real credit to everyone that they have supported a measure that could help move cigarettes out of glamorous, glitzy and expensively designed boxes into toned down simple packaging that puts across the real health risks of smoking.

‘All those people who have given their support have played a key role in raising the profile of this vital issue that could help protect our children for years to come.

‘I am in no doubt that these packs, some the shaped like lipsticks or ipods, are used to entice the next generation of smokers to replace the 100,000 people who die from diseases caused by smoking every year in the UK. The positive response we have seen to this campaign shows that this concerns smokers and non-smokers, young and old, uncles and aunties, parents and grandparents.’

There is strong public support for the introduction of plain, standardised packaging. A recent poll by YouGov found that 63% of adults in the South West supported plain packaging while just 12% opposed the measure. Even among smokers, for every five who oppose plain packaging, there are seven who support it.

Support has come from across the area including cross- party support from South West MPs and major health bodies. All responses received have been submitted to the Government consultation that closed August 10th. All of the responses and supporting evidence will be evaluated before any decision is made.

Australia has already moved to introduce plain packaging, which becomes law in December this year.  New Zealand has agreed in principal to the introduction of plain packaging and has committed to running a public consultation with other countries watching closely.
To find out more about plain packaging visit www.plainpacksprotect.co.uk
* This number reflects the total amount of people who have signed up to support the plain packaging of tobacco products, via the Plain Packs Protect Partnership (logos below), British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK websites.
Supporters Smoke Free South West Ulster Cancer Foundation ash Ash Scotland Ash Wales British Heart Foundation Cancer Research UK Chartered Institute of Environmental Health Cut Films Faculty of Public Health Fresh Smoke Free North East National Heart Forum NCSCT BTS - Stop Smoking Champions The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation Royal College of Physicians TCC Tobacco Free Future Trading Standards Partnership South West Smoke Free Lincs - Promoting a tobacco free life