We have used the 70 year anniversary of the landmark paper that linked smoking to lung cancer, to remind West Australians how tobacco companies have denied and undermined the truth about tobacco for decades.
Our CEO Ashley Reid said a provocative full page advertisement was placed in The West Australian newspaper to illustrate how tobacco companies still treat Australians.
“Seventy years ago today, the British Medical Journal published the landmark paper, ‘Smoking and Carcinoma of the Lung’1 by Sir Richard Doll and Sir Austin Bradford Hill which established conclusively that smoking was linked to lung cancer,” Mr Reid said.
“Yet this verifiable scientific fact was rejected and obfuscated by the tobacco industry for decades.
“They co-opted researchers, doctors, politicians, actors and sports people – anyone that they could – to spruik their lies and deceit.
“They have also strongly opposed every evidence-based measure under the sun known to reduce smoking and they have kicked and screamed with the arrival of advertising bans, product display bans, smoke-free pubs and clubs, graphic health warnings and plain packaging.
“These multinational companies have denied that smoking leads to cancer, denied that smoking is addictive, denied that they market to children and denied that second-hand smoke can kill.
“This attitude epitomises a barefaced disregard for Australian lives which is why the message published in The West Australian reads ‘After all this time, tobacco companies are still giving us the finger’ and depicts a fist made from cigarettes doing exactly that.
“Every Aussie knows the finger when they see it, and that we shouldn’t take this any longer.
“By rejecting industry lies, combatting them with the truth, implementing evidence-based measures and of course, quitting smoking, Australia is in good stead to make smoking history, and to make tobacco companies redundant.”
Australian Council on Smoking and Health Chief Executive Maurice Swanson said there is an incorrect growing public sentiment that smoking is no longer an issue and that tobacco companies have gone away.
“Tobacco companies are actually on the resurgence and have never been so active,” Mr Swanson said
“Despite advertising bans since the early 1990s, they are still promoting their products through retail outlets, PR, lobbying, and social media.
“The business model for tobacco companies has always been to addict people to nicotine, and now, as always, they are out looking for new market opportunities.
“Tobacco is the only consumer product available in Australia that kills some two thirds of its regular consumers when used as intended.
“Globally and in Australia, tobacco companies are funnelling billions of dollars into new nicotine products that they are promulgating to prop up their bottom line.
“They are targeting these products to non-smokers, young people and vulnerable groups alike.”
Mr Swanson said the industry is crafting a false narrative that positions itself as the solution rather than the problem.
“All the evidence is to the contrary,” he said.
“This can be very clearly seen where in low and middle income countries tobacco companies are still blatantly advertising their cigarettes using the same tactics they used in Australia decades ago.
“The duplicity and hypocrisy knows no end.”