Anti-smoking activists say the tobacco giant is using articles to try to weaken the ban on e-cigarettes, nicotine and e-juice
Public health advocates have said a series of Philip Morris-sponsored articles on vaping published in Australia may breach national tobacco advertising laws.
The CEO of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health, Morris Swanson, said he would ask the Commonwealth Health Administration whether the articles violated the Tobacco Advertising Ban Act 1992.
Swanson told Guardian Australia: « ACOSH believes these sponsored articles clearly advertise and violate Australia’s national tobacco advertising and promotion laws. ».
“It is part of a broader public relations campaign by Philip Morris to undermine Australia’s cautionary approach to regulating tobacco and electronic cigarette products.. Philip Morris is simply diversifying its range of nicotine products to ensure continued addiction and maintain its profitability.
State and territory laws make the sale of nicotine e-cigarettes and e-juice illegal throughout Australia, and their possession is illegal everywhere except in South Australia.
Swanson said Philip Morris was using the Trojan horse to « reduce harm to tobacco » to weaken public health legislation.
« Fortunately, all state and federal governments and all health and medical institutions and medical colleges strongly oppose making these dangerous products available in Australia, » he said.
Philip Morris International paid News Corp Australia tens of thousands of dollars to publish four articles online that appear to be scientific features, as part of an international campaign to change tobacco control laws..
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The global tobacco giant argues in articles titled « Sponsored Content by Philip Morris International, » that strict Australian laws mean « deny men and women who do not quit cigarettes the opportunity to switch to better alternatives. ».
“The facts are that the government continues to make it more difficult for three million smokers and newspapers in Australia to access alternatives,” all articles say.
Articles on the initial skepticism towards scientific and technological breakthroughs such as the invention of cars, seat belts, airplanes and computers, are framed to argue that science has shown that vaping is a safer alternative, but governments do not listen to science.
“While the best thing any smoker can do is to quit tobacco and nicotine completely, the truth is that many adult smokers in Australia will continue to smoke cigarettes – one of the most harmful ways to consume nicotine – unless the government rethinks tobacco Control policy, « says one of the four articles, Computing Facts from Fiction.
“We must not let this become another story driven by mentalities trapped in the present, captive to conventional wisdom and a reluctance to learn about the potential of science and evidence to solve big problems..
Philip Morris says on its website that there will still be 1. One billion people chose to smoke in 2025 and want to « persuade all adult smokers who will continue to smoke cigarettes to switch to scientifically proven smoke-free products as soon as possible ».
« Philip Morris Australia uses a variety of communication outlets to deliver the important message that it is time for policy makers, regulators and health authorities in Australia to support common sense and science-based regulations that can help smokers leave cigarettes behind. ».
“Tobacco advertising laws in Australia allow discussion of issues related to political matters – in this case, the content relates to the ongoing political debate in Australia about whether smoke-free products should be legally available and properly regulate adult smokers who would otherwise They will continue to smoke.
The Tobacco Advertising Ban Act prohibits the publication of anything that promotes tobacco products. However, there is an exception to political rhetoric as long as the posts « do not promote smoking or a specific tobacco product or group of tobacco products. ».
A spokesperson for News Corp Australia said the articles it sponsored do not constitute tobacco advertising and have no effect on its journalists’ reports on smoking and vaping.. .
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A spokesperson said, « This is not an ad. This is, instead, a campaign introduced by Philip Morris to create awareness of current government regulations. This campaign has no influence on how News Corp Australia reports this or any other issue.
“The Philip Morris campaign does not encourage, and has never been intended, to promote smoking, cigarettes or vaping. Obviously, all of the content is being introduced to consumers by Philip Morris, paid for by Philip Morris and focused solely on effective regulation around e-cigarettes..
The Australian is regularly reporting the dangers of smoking and vaping, including a report last month that said vaping was a « gateway » to traditional smoking and that e-cigarettes were three times more likely to smoke.
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