Labor is alarmed at today’s report tobacco companies are hijacking Freedom of Information laws to obtain data from surveys by thousands of Victorian school children and teenagers that reveal their attitudes to smoking and alcohol.
FOI laws are intended to promote democracy by giving Australians access to information held by Government. These laws should never be used by private companies to profit at the expense of the public interest. It was certainly never the intention for these laws to empower businesses to spy on children.
Australian schools play an essential role in promoting a healthy lifestyle, and this attempted invasion of the education system by Big Tobacco is a massive breach of trust for Australians.
Labor calls on the Government to immediately investigate these reports, and if necessary, reform FOI laws to prevent their abuse.
All the evidence makes crystal clear Labor’s landmark plain packaging laws have helped drive smoking rates down to record levels.
That’s why they are increasingly being adopted overseas and why big tobacco is prepared to stoop to any level to try to undermine them.
Each year smoking kills 15,000 people in Australia. The economic and social cost of smoking is estimated at $31.5 billion a year.
Labor urges governments state and federal to take whatever action they can take to protect children from tobacco companies.