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Issue #1507      29 June 2011

Coalition parties need to quit the tobacco habit

Political parties and MPs are being urged to end tobacco industry donations to parties and candidates, and to support long-awaited reform of political donation laws.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Australia says tobacco donations are used to gain influence and weaken public health policies that can save lives, health and money.

Says Anne Jones, ASH Chief Executive: “Calls to end political donations are increasing – including from members of the Liberal Party who see tobacco donations as unacceptable.

“Coalition parties have received almost $3 million from tobacco companies since 1998. This money is not given for nothing – the tobacco industry hopes to gain back-door influence over health policies so it can continue to promote and sell addictive products that each year kill over 15,000 people and drain our national economy of over $31 billion.”

Ms Jones said there needs to be comprehensive reform to avoid third parties being used to push tobacco interests – since related hospitality, gambling and retail interests also make political donations.

“Multinational companies making large donations to politicians expect favourable treatment in return, often gaining concessions at a cost to public health.

ASH contacted all major parties and made submissions calling for reforms to end organisational and foreign donations, cap election spending and improve transparency and accountability.  

Next article – MUA calls for more stringent radiation testing of Japanese imports

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