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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 5:20 am 
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Big Tobacco conquers its new frontier

It was tipped to send tobacco companies' profits tumbling. The plain cigarette packaging High Court victory was hailed by the Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, as an anti-smoking coup with global implications.

But the latest blow against cigarettes in countries like Australia needs some perspective: health experts warn that while the industry is beginning to lose its grip in developed nations, there is a humanitarian disaster looming in poorer countries, particularly in the Asia-Pacific.

The region is now the world's biggest tobacco market, with 6 million new smokers recruited in 2009 and another 30 million expected to be added by 2014, based on industry estimates. The World Health Organisation calculates that of the 6 million people who will die from tobacco use this year, 80 per cent will be in the developing world.

Mike Daube, a WHO tobacco adviser and president of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health, has accused cigarette companies of perpetrating a ''tobacco holocaust'' in poor nations. ''This is an industry absolutely without a moral radar. They are just wilfully imposing a pandemic on developing countries, and they've known for more than 60 years that smoking kills. This is going to cause far more deaths than any wars we've ever seen.''

Last week, The Lancet reported ''alarming patterns'' of tobacco use in developing countries, where consumption is growing by more than 3 per cent a year. At a time when Australia's adult smoking rate - one of the lowest in the world at 16.6 per cent - continues to drop by about 1 per cent a year, in parts of Asia as many as two-thirds of men are smokers, and women and children are increasingly taking up the habit.

In China, schools are sponsored by the state-run tobacco industry. The biggest commercial player, Philip Morris, has seen net revenue soar in the Asia-Pacific region from $5.6 billion in 2007 to nearly $11 billion last year, and the company has set up production bases in Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia. In a statement to The Sun-Herald, a Switzerland-based media adviser for Philip Morris International outlined the market's potential: ''A home to over half of the world's population, the Asian region is very important for any global consumer goods company. In terms of tobacco products, tobacco has been used in Asia for centuries and most countries have long-standing local traditions.''

British American Tobacco's revenue has grown from $1.8 billion to $4.2 billion over the same period in the region. A spokesman, Scott McIntyre, was unapologetic, saying the company has had a presence in the developing world since the early 1900s.

''Just because people live in a developing nation,'' he said, ''does that mean they have less of a right to choose what legal products they purchase than Australians? Or do Australian health experts believe they should have control over individuals in other countries. We believe education on the health risks of smoking is the most effective way for governments to reduce smoking rates.''

In China the government-owned China Tobacco Corp generates taxes and profits of about $9 billion a month. China has 330 million smokers. In Indonesia, where the average age to start smoking is under 10, there are 65 million.

Professor Daube said large markets, low taxes, cheap labour, corruption, poor literacy and lax advertising rules made the Asia-Pacific region attractive to tobacco companies. Huge populations with a large youth base were also part of the appeal. ''There's massive evidence from industry documents that they see developing countries as essentially their saviour market.''

While the traditionally conservative culture in many Asian countries has kept smoking rates very low for women (between 3 and 5 per cent), increased economic and social equality are turning the trend. Aggressive marketing is driving the shift, said Mary Assunta, director of the international tobacco control project at Cancer Council Australia, who has worked in the Asia-Pacific region for 20 years. ''In Indonesia you see cigarette packs in the market that look like lipstick cases and they sell skinny cigarette sticks so they can fit into the purse of young girls very easily,'' Dr Assunta said.

The industry denies it targets children, despite cigarette companies sponsoring concerts, sporting events and even schools in some Asian countries. Philip Morris said in its statement it was an ''advocate'' for laws banning cigarette sales to minors. But an advertisement last year for Sampoerna, an Indonesian tobacco company bought by Philip Morris in 2005, ran the slogan: ''Dying is better than leaving a friend; Sampoerna is a cool friend.''

Tobacco companies make no secret of their hopes in Asia. Next month Jakarta will host the World Tobacco Asia 2012. Its website boasts that Indonesia is a ''tobacco-friendly market'' because it has no smoking bans or restrictions. ''Ensure you take advantage of this growing market,'' it says.

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/world/b ... z24gJr8c3F


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2012 5:34 am 
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Roxon's family motivation for plain-packaging push

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."

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.

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."

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-08-27/n ... ection=vic


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 7:50 am 
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U.S. Court Won’t Require Graphic Images on Cigarette Packaging

An appeals court in Washington ruled this week that the U.S. government cannot force tobacco companies to put graphic logos on cigarette packages. The ruling was based on the argument that the graphic image requirement would undermine free speech in the United States.

The BBC notes that the Food and Drug Administration wanted to require all cigarette companies to include nine different images of unhealthy smokers on cigarette packaging in order to discourage people from smoking and remind smokers of the dangers of the habit. Big tobacco fired back saying that such a policy would tread on free speech and would basically act as a governmental anti-smoking campaign, thereby counteracting the business practices of tobacco companies.

In the wake of the decision, Judge Janice Rogers Brown of the Washington D.C. appeals court that heard the case wrote:

This case raises novel questions about the scope of the government’s authority to force the manufacturer of a product to go beyond making purely factual and accurate commercial disclosures and undermine its own economic interest — in this case, by making ‘every single pack of cigarettes in the country mini billboard’ for the government’s anti-smoking message.

Judge Brown also concluded that there is no substantial evidence to prove that including such imagery on packages has produced any significant reduction in the number of smokers. These rulings were good news to the five cigarette companies who had complained about the proposed policy.

NBC notes that this particular legal battle could potentially continue into the coming months. A similar case in another U.S. court in March contradicted this ruling, which means there is a very distinct possibility of the case heading to the Supreme Court. Reuters notes that advocates for anti-tobacco campaigns have no intentions of stopping the fight against big tobacco companies. Matthew Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said, “Today’s ruling is wrong on the science and law, and it is by no means the final word on the new cigarette warnings.”

The United States’ block on graphic images directly counters a court ruling in Australia this month that mandated all cigarette packaging has to be uniform and include graphic images and warnings. The same arguments about free speech and business practices cropped up in the Australian case. The highest court in Australia argued that the packaging has the potential to decrease the number of smokers in the country and set a tough precedent against the use of the tobacco companies’ caustic product.

Although not as stringent in the United States, a law passed back in 2009 does give the FDA the power to regulate labels on cigarette packages. The FDA has mandated that warning labels must take up the top 50 percent of the package. New health warnings will be included on packaging starting next month in an effort to avert smokers from using the product.

Strangely, imagery seems to be the most controversial aspect of the cigarette packaging wars, both in the United States and in countries like Australia and the UK. For years the U.S. Surgeon General’s warning has graced all cartons of cigarettes in the United States but, somehow, adding graphic images has riled the big tobacco companies and pushed them to take a stand against the measure. It makes me wonder if the imagery would actually have a bigger effect on the number of smokers in the United States than Judge Brown wants to admit. Although there is no substantive research that proves the imagery will work to decrease the smoking habit, the debate has indeed bathed the power of advertising and free speech in a new light.

http://www.care2.com/causes/u-s-court-w ... z24sblhk5X


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2012 5:52 am 
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Melanoma victim Clare Oliver's mother Priscilla calls for ban on solariums in Victoria

THE heartbroken mother of melanoma victim Clare Oliver has pleaded with another young woman fighting the deadly cancer to continue her daughter's legacy.

Priscilla Oliver has broken her silence over her daughter's death, nearly five years ago, and has joined calls for a total ban on solariums in Victoria.

A tearful Ms Oliver said: "It's been so difficult because I can't hold her, I can't hug her, I always talk to her but there's no reply.

"I always ask Jesus Christ to bring me to Heaven so I can meet my daughter, but on the other hand I really want to continue her legacy so her death is not in vain."

She appealed to Melissa Sheldon, 32, to continue her daughter's work by raising awareness of the dangers of solariums and pushing for them to be outlawed.

Ms Sheldon, who bought 10 sunbed sessions for a bargain $99 to look "skinny" and "fit" in a dress at the Spring Racing Carnival seven years ago, is now fighting for her life.

A cancerous mole was removed from her naval three years ago, but the melanoma has since spread to her brain.

Her abdomen had never been exposed to the sun, so the sunbeds were the only logical explanation for her melanoma, she said.

Despite being given less than a year to live, Ms Sheldon is optimistic and is now being treated with an experimental new drug.

Her message to other women was: "Use fake tan and sunscreen, it's really that simple."

The State Government's failure to move quickly to ban sunbeds was "incomprehensible", Ms Sheldon said.

Every year in Australia, sunbeds cause 281 new melanoma cases, and 43 deaths.

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre oncologist Assoc Prof Grant McArthur said because solarium operators were not complying with laws - banning those aged under 18 or with a very fair skin - a total ban was the only option.

Cancer Council Victoria sunsmart manager Jen Makin slammed the industry for continuing to offer cut-price deals for multiple sessions.

"There is ample evidence showing that melanoma risk increases significantly with the number of sunbed sessions," Ms Makin said.

"These machines are dangerous, unnecessary, outdated and irrefutably linked to cancer."

NSW will ban solariums in 2014. Victoria is seeking consultation on a draft skin cancer prevention framework to determine its action.

The melanoma death of Clare Oliver nearly five years ago sparked new laws banning the use of solariums for those aged under 18 or with very fair skin.

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/nati ... 6461027428


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 5:29 am 
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Traffic-light blood test shows hidden alcohol harm

A traffic-light colour-coded blood test can reveal hidden liver damage caused by drinking above recommended alcohol limits, say experts.

The UK doctors who devised the test say anyone who regularly drinks more than three or four bottles of wine a week, for example, is at significant risk.

Ultimately, GPs could offer the test to patients, especially since many people do not recognise unsafe drinking.

Often damage is only noticed at a late stage as the liver starts to fail.

Although the liver can heal itself to some extent, repeated onslaught will cause irreparable damage.

By the time the patient reaches hospital, the liver can be very scarred. And even when they stop drinking entirely, in many cases it is too late and they will die of liver complications over the next 12 months.

The traffic-light test can give an early colour-coded warning - green means damage is unlikely, amber means there is a 50:50 chance it is there, and red means the liver is most probably damaged and potentially irreversibly.

It combines a routine liver test doctors already use with two others that measure the level of scarring, also known as fibrosis.

This revealed that the traffic-light test was also good at predicting the prognosis of liver disease. Half of the liver patients had a red traffic light and (of a subset of these who were followed up) about a quarter died over the next five years, whereas none of the patients with a green test died or developed complications.

The findings are published in the British Journal of General Practice.

Dr Sheron's team have also been investigating how the test can be used in primary care.

Preliminary results in about 400 hazardous drinkers from 10 GP surgeries suggest many patients are willing to be tested and that learning the result can change behaviour.

A third of those given a green result cut down on their alcohol intake, while more than two-thirds of those given a red or amber result subsequently drank less.

Dr Nick Sheron, who devised the test, said: "It is a powerful tool and message for people. We can say, 'Amber means we can't be absolutely sure but there is at least a 50:50 chance that you have a scarred liver, and there is a significant possibility that you could die of it within 5 years'.

"We find that for most patients this is a pretty good stimulus to stop drinking or at least to cut down to safe levels."

He said, generally, people were receptive to being tested.

"People are immensely curious about if their alcohol intake is doing any harm. They want to take the test."

As well as people who drink more than the recommended amount, people who drink and are overweight or have type-two diabetes should consider getting tested, says Dr Sheron. This is because they are at increased risk of liver damage.

The Department of Health says men should not regularly drink more than three to four units of alcohol a day and women should not regularly drink more than two to three units a day.

"Regularly" means drinking every day or most days of the week. And if you do drink more heavily than this on any day, allow 48 alcohol-free hours afterwards to let your body recover.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) advises no more than 21 units per week for men and 14 units per week for women. But also, have two to three alcohol-free days a week to allow the liver time to recover after drinking anything but the smallest amount of alcohol.

There are one and a half units of alcohol in a small glass (125 ml) of ordinary strength wine (12% alcohol by volume) or a standard pub measure (35 ml) of spirits (40% alcohol by volume).

Estimates suggest 10 million or one in five adults in England drink above recommended levels.

Prof Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, said: "One of the challenges of liver disease, which is rising dramatically in this country, is the silent nature of the condition until it is often too late to reverse the damage.

"However minor changes in standard liver blood tests are so common that it is difficult for GPs to know when to refer for specialist advice.

"This large study from Sheron and colleagues in Southampton may prove really useful for guiding the right patients towards specialist care in a timely way."

Andrew Langford of the British Liver Trust said: "If we are to make an in-road in reducing liver deaths - the only big killer increasing year on year - we have to make it easier for primary care to better understand the management of liver conditions as well as spotting the signs early."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19260423


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2012 5:23 am 
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Tobacco curbs reach internet

NEW restrictions on the online advertising of tobacco products will come into effect this week as the federal government looks at ways to drive down the number of smokers.

Online tobacco advertisements will be largely banned from Thursday as the internet becomes subject to the same limits as other types of media.

"These changes will limit the exposure of the public, particularly young people, to tobacco advertising on the internet, or published advertising, for example, via mobile phones," the federal Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek, said.

"Smoking kills 15,000 Australians a year and we are committed to our fight to rid Australia of this product which, if used as the manufacturer recommends, will kill the user."

The federal government last month celebrated a victory in the High Court when it rejected the tobacco industry's challenge to legislation that will ban brand logos and trademarks on cigarette packets from December 1.

The regulations that come into force this week will require tobacco retail websites to list products for sale in plain black and white text only. Displaying product images will be banned, as will the use of words such as "cheap" and "discount".

Websites will also need to display graphic health warnings and limit access to consumers aged 18 years or over.

“This move is an important part of our strategy to reduce the adult daily smoking rate in Australia to 10 per cent by 2018,” Ms Plibersek said.

The government's plain packaging legislation is seen by anti-smoking groups as a significant step towards a further reduction in the smoking rate.

Organisations such as Cancer Council NSW will now focus on further restricting the availability of tobacco products and education campaigns targeted at specific groups with high rates of smoking, such as low-income earners.

Yesterday also marked the introduction of tighter tobacco duty free allowances, a measure that was first announced in the budget in May.

International passengers are now allowed to bring in only 50 duty free cigarettes each, instead of the previous 250.

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/nationa ... z25FPuAM2m


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2012 5:24 am 
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Australia challenges Ukraine on tobacco

AUSTRALIA has taken a hard line with Ukraine in the first round of the European country's assault on Australia's plain cigarette packaging rules at the World Trade Organisation in Geneva.

On Saturday, Ukraine asked the WTO set up a panel to hear a dispute on "measures concerning trademarks and other plain packaging requirements applicable to the tobacco products".

Ukraine has next to no cigarette trade with Australia but it is the site of a Philip Morris International subsidiary that employs 1400 workers. Corporations cannot make an appeal to the WTO in their own name.

Ukraine's statement says Australia's law requiring that all cigarettes must be sold in plain packets is "more trade restrictive than necessary to achieve the stated health objectives and constitutes an unnecessary obstacle to trade".

Rather than agreeing to the establishment of a disputes resolution panel, as is customary in less serious disputes, Australia rejected the request, arguing the law was "a sound, well-considered measure designated to achieve a legitimate objective, the protection of public health".

Australia's rejection of the request for a panel is a symbolic, rather than a practical, measure. Ukraine will have to ask for a second time at the next WTO meeting on September 28. Australia would be unable to reject a second request.

The dispute would take some months to hear, during which time Australia could continue to require plain cigarette packets from December 1.

If the panel finds against Australia, the WTO will have the right to impose trade sanctions, should Australia continue to enforce the law. Australia is fending off a second challenge in Hong Kong, where British American Tobacco has relocated its Australian holding company's headquarters.

http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/a ... 258hv.html


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2012 6:48 am 
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Lebanon smoking ban takes effect, sparking anger

BEIRUT — A smoking ban in all closed public spaces, including coffee shops, restaurants and bars, went into force in Lebanon on Monday under new legislation that promises hefty fines for lawbreakers.

In a country considered a "smokers' paradise," the law took effect a year ago in airports, hospitals and schools, but took hold on a wider basis on Monday, also banning tobacco advertisements criticised for luring youths into the habit.

Smokers caught lighting up in a closed public space face a $90 penalty, while restaurant or cafe owners who turn a blind eye to offenders could be fined anything from $900 to $2,700.

The number of smokers in Lebanon is among the highest in the region and cancer-related illnesses directly linked to tobacco are rising at a rapid rate, health professionals say.

Still, there is speculation as to how far the new ban can actually hold in a country where cigarette, cigar and nargileh (water-pipe) smoking is so popular and widespread.

It was met with discontent among clients of the coffee shops of the central Hamra district of Beirut.

"We have mountains of waste and minibuses spewing carbon dioxide. The government would have done better to address these issues before prohibiting smoking," said Saad Fleifel, peering over a nargileh on a cafe terrace.

Like the majority of people interviewed by AFP, he accused the authorities of depriving him of the right to "unwind" in Lebanon, a country plagued by years of war, instability and economic woes.

"Banning cigarettes is a European concept, but shishas are a way of life in eastern Lebanon and they want to deprive us of that!" said Saad, referring to nargileh.

"Hookah bars are the only things that work in Lebanon," added his companion Firas Ghali, using another term for the water-pipes.

The 30-year-old retailer questioned the application of the law, predicting that "within a week or two, many cafes will close their doors."

Some 46 percent of Lebanese men and 31 percent of women are regular cigarette smokers, according to World Health Organisation figures that date back to November 2010.

Cigarettes in Lebanon cost little more than a dollar a pack, a price even many teenagers can afford.

But rather than focus on the potential health benefits, many have focused on the potential economic cost of the new law.

Restaurant and cafe owners have cried foul, warning that nargileh cafe owners especially will suffer.

Many owners of cafes and restaurants immediately organised a sit-in protest in Beirut to protest against the law, demanding that they be allowed to create smoking areas.

One coffee shop owner in Hamra expressed concerns about the likely impact on his business.

"Nearly 80 percent of our customers come here for the hookah. How will we do in winter when there won't be any terraces?" he asked.

The new law was also met with derision in second city Tripoli, scene of recent fighting between pro- and anti-Syrian factions.

"It's a weird country, Lebanon. It is forbidden to smoke, but kidnapping people is allowed," said one Tripoli resident, referring to recent abductions claimed by known perpetrators who were not arrested.

Several other countries in the Middle East have adopted anti-tobacco laws, but their enforcement has proven often difficult as smoking, especially of the nargileh, is hugely popular.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/ar ... 622a61.4f1


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2012 5:26 am 
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Deadly asbestos mine takes toll for Wittenoom kids

Operators of the former WA asbestos mine in Wittenoom could be liable for a wider range of deadly illnesses following new research about the effects on children who grew up there.

The Australian research, released on Tuesday, found children from Wittenoom are developing a range of cancers and dying sooner than the general population.

The town was the site of a blue asbestos mine between 1943 and 1966. The asbestos tailings were used throughout the town in roads, pavements, car parks, the racecourse, school playgrounds and backyard sandpits.

The sack race. Photo taken at the Wittenoom racecourse which was covered in asbestos tailings. Photo courtesy of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia Inc.

The two children pictured above were just four-years-old when this photo was taken in 1953.

Philip Noble grew up to be a keen footballer before dying from mesothelioma at age 36.

Ross Munroe became a high school principal and died from mesothelioma at 38.

The pair were captured in this photo playing in an asbestos sandpit in a residential backyard in Wittenoom.

Residents bought the deadly asbestos tailings, which were commonly used as sandpits for children to play in, and also to reduce dust around the house.

WA Institute of Medical Research Associate Professor Alison Reid, who has carried out a study on Wittenoom kids who spent their childhoods exposed to asbestos in the town, and the range of cancers that had been developed among the group.

Her study found that girls up to the age of 15 who lived in the town have been more likely to develop mesothelioma, ovarian and brain cancers and have had increased death rates.

The results were similar for boys of the same age group, with elevated rates of mesothelioma, leukaemia, prostate, brain and colorectal cancer, diseases of the circulatory and nervous system and excessive death rates.

The study found that 2640 former Wittenoom children were documented to have been exposed to blue asbestos before the age of 15 – the median age of their first exposure was three.

Of the people studied, 63% were either born in Wittenoom or had moved to the mining town by the time they were 5 years old. The vast majority (93.5%) left Wittenoom by the time they were 16, so were only exposed to asbestos during their childhoods.

To the end of 2007, 228 of the former residents had died of a range of causes and to the end of 2009 there were 215 cases of cancer in 207 individuals.

This means that compared with the general population in Western Australia, Wittenoom girls have had a 20-47% greater risk of dying from any cause, while boys have had a 50-83% increased chance of dying from any cause.

"We will continue to follow this group to provide important information on the long-term implications of exposure to asbestos during childhood," said Associate Professor Alison Reid.

Slater & Gordon asbestos lawyer Simon Millman said the courts had already determined that the Wittenoom mine owners and operators could be liable for sufferers of asbestos-related cancer, such as lung cancer and mesothelioma.

"In light of this new research, the next question for the courts will be whether those same owners and operators are also liable for a much wider range of deadly illnesses," Mr Millman said in a statement.

"We're hopeful it will help in putting together a clearer picture of the extent of the pain and suffering that has been caused by this deadly substance."

The study has been published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/deadl ... z25WyDdryW


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 5:34 am 
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Food allergies rampant in Australia

Australians are reporting food allergies at a rate higher than any other country, and children are taking longer to outgrow them.

Experts say it's not yet clear what's causing the spike - or how to prevent allergies from occurring.

Childcare worker Lucy Eccles says five years ago, asthma was the most prevalent ailment in young children. Now, that has been overtaken by a wide variety of allergic reactions.

Her workplace has to cater for children suffering from nut, milk, egg and asthma-related allergies.

She tells SBS reporter Cassandra Hill, it can be hard to accommodate every child’s dietary requirements.

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1690 ... -Australia


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 5:53 pm 
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Aussies happier with a good sleep

The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index has found that people who sleep for less than six hours a night had lower wellbeing levels compared to those who got seven to nine hours sleep.

However, levels of satisfaction dropped off when people slumbered for more than 10 hours a night, according to the survey of 2000 Australians.

Overall, about 30 per cent of people surveyed slept for seven hours or less a night while two-thirds sleep between seven and nine hours.

The Deakin University report, The Wellbeing of Australians - Quantity and Quality of Sleep, said people who sleep more than 10 hours may have a lack of purpose in their lives, while those who sleep less than seven hours are more likely to be stressed.

'Sleep closely correlates to people's overall wellbeing,' said lead author Robert Cummins, head of Deakin University's Australian Centre on Quality of Life.

'Those who sleep six hours a night report significantly lower levels of satisfaction with their health and safety, which are linked to higher anxiety.

'This in turn can cause, or be caused by, a lack of sleep.

'Bringing this to light might encourage people to flick off the light switch or put down the remote control a little earlier,' Professor Cummins said.

University of Sydney sleep medicine Professor Ron Grunstein said it was important to determine whether the lack of sleep was leading to lower wellbeing, or symptoms such as stress and anxiety were causing people to toss and turn.

'There's the possibility it's a vicious cycle,' Prof Grunstein said.

He said it was equally important to focus on the wellbeing of people sleeping longer hours, which may be an indicator of depression or sleep apnoea.

http://www.skynews.com.au/health/article.aspx?id=793333


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 5:26 am 
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Cancer warning for male pot-users

YOUNG men who have so far ignored the growing health warnings about marijuana have just been hit where it hurts, with a new study showing male cannabis users face nearly double the risk of the more aggressive types of testicular cancer.

The cancer, which has been becoming more common both in Australia and other advanced countries for the past 30 years, is most commonly found in males aged from 15 to 45, prompting experts to declare the findings a powerful new reason for men to avoid cannabis use.

Although a link between cannabis and testicular cancer has been found before, the new study strengthens the finding because it also found cocaine use appeared to be linked to a reduced risk of the same cancer -- effectively negating the possible explanation that people were more willing to disclose past drug use if they were living with a cancer diagnosis.

Australian drug experts said the findings, published online in the US journal Cancer, were plausible given that testes contained cannabis receptors, and the drug was known to affect sperm development.

Jan Copeland, director of the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre at the University of NSW, said protecting health and fertility was "just one more reason not to smoke cannabis for this high-risk group".

"It's hard for apparently healthy young men to think about future health risk, but they value their testes and this is a cancer of young men -- so it may well be a risk they are not willing to take as the evidence becomes more clear," Professor Copeland said.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/he ... 6471401407


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 5:31 am 
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Marijuana link to testicular cancer

MARK COLVIN: Scientists in the United States have found a link between marijuana and the incidence of testicular cancer. A study suggested a history of marijuana use appeared to be linked to a doubling of the danger of two types of the cancer that affect younger men in particular.

Simon Santow reports.

SIMON SANTOW: The effects of taking marijuana have long been debated in medical circles and the wider community. There's research linking the drug to severe mental health illnesses, such as schizophrenia. Then there's the debate about whether dope can cause lung cancer in the same way that cigarette smoke does.

On the positive side, there are plenty of cancer patients who've found taking cannabis relieves their considerable pain.

Now you can add further evidence linking young male marijuana users and testicular cancer.

JAN COPELAND: It certainly fits with what we know about the effects of cannabis and the receptors in the body, that it does affect sperm production. So it's plausible that there might be an association with something going wrong in that system and various types of cancer emerging as a result.

SIMON SANTOW: Professor Jan Copeland from the University of New South Wales is at the centre of the battle to prevent young people from taking marijuana.

JAN COPELAND: It's important for us because almost half of males in the 20-to-29-year-old age group have ever used cannabis and about a quarter of them have used in the past year. So given the level of exposure to cannabis in this age group, any increase in risk in an early life cancer is a very important thing for that user group to understand.

SIMON SANTOW: Compared to many other cancers, cancer of the testes is pretty rare. It represents only about 1 per cent of all cancers affecting men, although it is the most common cancer diagnosed in young men aged between 15 and 45.

Scientists from the University of Southern California looked at 163 young men with both testicular cancer and a history of recreational drug use. Their study compared them with 292 healthy men of the same age and ethnicity. The risk of cancer doubled with marijuana use.

The director of the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre says this study backs other work linking testicular cancer to cannabis use, but it still begs other questions.

JAN COPELAND: There wasn't a relationship between the level of cannabis use, just whether or not people had, the men had ever smoked cannabis. That's one of the reasons why this study is just an early indicator. Because we would expect to see a dose response, where the more cannabis you smoked, the greater the risk should be. And there is much more to learn about this.

But nonetheless it's a red flag, it's something more we should be looking into and just one more reason why young people shouldn't be smoking cannabis.

SIMON SANTOW: And in terms of acting as a deterrent, this knowledge, do you expect it to hit home?

JAN COPELAND: I think it's a particularly valued part of a young man's body and I think if, knowing that cannabis use might lead to an increased risk of cancer while they were still young, might be just one more reason that they shouldn't ever think about taking up cannabis.

MARK COLVIN: Simon Santow prepared that report.

http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2012/s3587045.htm


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 5:26 am 
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Australian tobacco accused of 'sick joke'

The slogan was emblazoned on a new line of Peter Stuyvesant packets, the last to be produced before the start of the country's tough new packaging laws.

Tobacco firms must stop manufacturing branded packets from October 1 under new laws requiring all cigarettes to be sold in drab khaki boxes with graphic health warnings. The laws – the first of their kind in the world – commence on December 1 but the manufacturing deadline will allow retailers to phase in the new plain packets.

The last-ditch Peter Stuyvesant packets show the brand ripped at one corner to reveal the new-look plain box, while accompanying advertisements say: "We're going plain early because we know Peter Stuyvesant will continue to live on inside."

Separately, British American Tobacco Australia has changed the descriptors of some cigarettes to image-based names such as "crush blue", "crush sky", "sea green menthol" and "smooth amber".

Imperial Tobacco said its new packets were "a mechanism to provide factual information" about the impact of the new laws.

Tanya Plibersek, the Australian health minister, said Imperial Tobacco's new slogan was ironic "given that what's on the inside is a product that, if used as the maker intends, will kill half of its regular users".

"[This is] the ultimate sick joke from big tobacco" she said.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne ... -joke.html


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 3:05 am 
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Travellers hit with airport tax for duty free cigarettes after limit lowered

TRAVELLERS are paying up to $100 in tax at airports to hang on to bulk ciggies after cuts to the number of duty free smokes.

From September 1 the number of duty free cigarettes travellers can bring into Australia after an overseas trip was slashed from 250 to just 50.

Customs has told News Limited most smokers caught unaware by the new limit have opted to pay the extra duty so they can bring the cigarettes into the country.

"If you bring in more than the limit you can keep 50 cigarettes and surrender the rest, or you can opt to pay the duty on the whole amount,'' a spokewoman said.

Customs says those cigarettes surrendered at the airport have been shredded at a secure facility under the supervision of customs officers.

Treasury research shows the new duty free restrictions are more likely to affect wealthy smokers because they are the ones who can afford to travel.

Only around one in 14 smoking households earning less $24,000 a year travel overseas - this compares to one in two smoking households in the top 20 per cent.

The government is spending $11.7 million over the next two years on brochures and advertising about the new measures and has hired extra customs staff at international airports to implement the changes to the duty free allowance.

Treasurer Wayne Swan says it's "simply not fair to continue to subsidise big tax breaks for cartons of cigarettes''.

"Large duty free allowances are outdated - we now know just how harmful tobacco is,'' he said.

The anti-tobacco revenue raising measure was announced in the May budget and designed to raise the government $600 million over four years.

http://www.news.com.au/news/travellers- ... z26SrzSBOT


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