Western Australia - major tobacco companies were worried about tobacco controls..

August 26, 2009 - Confidential tobacco company documents have revealed international tobacco companies were worried action in Western Australia would spread to other states. New research has revealed international tobacco companies feared tobacco controls in Western Australia (WA, W.A.) and closely monitored the state for more than 50 years. In 1998, a legal battle forced four of America's biggest tobacco companies to release millions of confidential documents.

Curtin University in Perth has spent the past two years sifting through more than 50 years of documents. The documents show the companies were deeply concerned about tobacco controls in Western Australia, including the banning of tobacco advertising, education programs and health warnings on cigarette packets.

Professor Mike Daube says the companies were getting regular reports on what was happening in the state. Daube: "They were desperately worried about Western Australia as a national leader. They were worried that action in Western Australia might encourage other states to act." Professor Daube says he has one memo written by a head of tobacco giant Philip Morris. "He says, 'This doesn't sound good at all, they are taking the lead!! This will spread elsewhere'," he said.

Professor Daube is also a member of the Preventative Health Task Force set up by the Federal Government and president of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health.

He says Western Australia remains a leader in tobacco controls, and it is likely the companies still fear the impact of smoking regulations in the state and the flow-on effects to the rest of Australia.

Monograph: “We are still not yet out of the woods in W.A.”: Western Australia and the international tobacco industry..

- Make Smoking History Campaign..

Reference: Tobacco giants 'feared Western Australia's lead', ABC News, 8/26/2009.

Click on image to enlarge, Healthway seeks to promote and support healthy lifestyles to reduce the burden of preventable disease in Western Australia.