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Tobacco control in Australia: what aren't you doing and why aren't you doing it?

Dileep G Bal, Donald O Lyman and David F Veneziano
Med J Aust 2003; 178 (7): 313-314.
Published online: 7 April 2003

The anti-smoking crusade in Australia is in a sorry state, say the leaders of California's Tobacco Control Program

Fear comes in many forms. At the turn of the 20th century, our grandparents were terrified by tuberculosis and polio (to mention only a few of the hideous communicable diseases that plagued the human race). We pulled out all the stops and gladly spent millions to "conquer" the responsible infective agents, at least in the resource-rich nations. As a result, the "plagues" which now terrorise the industrialised world are cardiovascular disease and cancer. These two categories of disease alone are responsible for a majority of all deaths, illnesses, disabilities and the lion's share of medical care costs. The leading responsible agent for these is tobacco. Yet, we tolerate this agent, subsidise it with government funds, and passively accept the tobacco industry argument that our societal ethos accepts its use (that is, it's "normal" and "expected"), and those who oppose its use are, by implication, "intolerant" and "puritanical". There are few examples of so deadly an error in human history. We need to recognise that this problem is caused by an agent (tobacco) as virulent as the tubercule bacillus or the poliovirus. Furthermore, this agent is being skilfully marketed by an industry which is, sans hyperbole, an immensely profitable organisation that has grown by strategically buying social and political influence. An egregious example of this is the relationship between the big tobacco lobbyists and most of the major political parties in Australia.1

  • Dileep G Bal1
  • Donald O Lyman2
  • David F Veneziano3

  • 1 California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California, USA.
  • 2 American Cancer Society (California Division), Oakland, California, USA.

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