Major win for University anti-smoking campaigners

29 April 2010

Today's announcement by the Federal Government that it will overhaul cigarette packaging legislation and dramatically increase taxes is a major win for University of Sydney public health researchers who have tirelessly campaigned for these reforms.

Professor Simon Chapman and colleague, PhD student Becky Freeman have welcomed the news that the Government will legislate to ban the packaging.

The laws will ban any use of colours, logos, brand imagery or promotional text that would distinguish one brand of cigarettes from the other. Only brand names will be allowed.

Professor Chapman, based in the Sydney School of Public Health, has been a tireless campaigner in raising awareness of the risks associated with smoking, death rates and advertising methods used by tobacco companies.

"Back in 2008, University of Sydney colleague Becky Freeman and I published a review of the available literature on smoking, its risks and what could be done to combat the massive health impact as a result," he said.

"Following this review, we used every opportunity to push this strategy for changing the packaging. We have very recently set up a campaigning page on Facebook to monitor 'below-the-line' tobacco promotions around the world. It already has 700 members."

Professor Chapman also lobbied governments at state and Federal level and was a member of the Federal Government's Preventative Health Task Force subcommittee on tobacco control.

He said the Government's decision would have a significant effect on smoking-related death rates.

"Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide," he said.

"But epidemic levels of lung cancer and smoking-related deaths have only been running for 80 years.

"Following implementation of public health and awareness campaigns, tighter advertising and packaging controls, we are now seeing a dramatic downturn in deaths from lung cancer in Australia. You have to go back to 1962 to see the rates we have today.

"This downturn may mean that this epidemic could be 'history' for the next generation. And the measures announced today will accelerate that trend."

Media inquiries: Rachel Gleeson, 0403 067 342, 9351 4312 or