Study Finds Australian Tobacco Lobbyists with Government Ties
On May 10th, researchers from Australia found through data analysis that nearly half (48%) of tobacco industry lobbyists had previously or later served in federal government or state and regional positions. This report was published by The Guardian.
Melissa Jones, a researcher at the New South Wales Cancer Council, who participated in the study, stated that she and her colleagues spent several months researching the relationship between tobacco companies and various levels of government in Australia.
It's like assembling a complex puzzle with 5,000 pieces, many of which are missing or blank.
A study led by Dr. Christina Watts, a tobacco control expert at the University of Sydney, aims to uncover the phenomenon of the revolving door in Australia's tobacco industry.
The "revolving door" phenomenon refers to government officials or senior civil servants quickly moving from their administrative roles to working in private enterprises or interest groups related to their previous work, or vice versa. This phenomenon suggests a close relationship and exchange of interests between the government and the private sector.
Tobacco companies are using these "former government officials" to gain internal knowledge about government and industry, in order to influence health policies.
This study calls for increased transparency and oversight in legislation in order to eliminate the tobacco industry's influence on politics.
This is a system tilted in favor of profit-driven private entities in an unhealthy industry. They're attempting to dismantle stronger regulations and undermine evidence-based public health policies.
Jones stated that Canada has a cooling-off period of five years, while Australia's cooling-off period is only 12 to 24 months. In the United States, if lobbyists violate lobbying laws, they could be imprisoned. Ireland has strict lobbying laws that require disclosure of any meetings between lobbyists and government officials, as well as letters, emails, or tweets aimed at influencing policy.
Their system is monitored and enforced by independent regulatory bodies with the power to impose strict penalties on any violations.
However, Australian federal law does not require disclosure of meetings or communications between them, and the laws of each state and territory are not uniform.
The Australian government plans to regulate this type of behavior.
The "National Tobacco Strategy 2023-2030" includes a priority to establish a requirement for the tobacco industry and related stakeholders to regularly report information, including marketing expenses and any related activities such as lobbying, charity work, and political donations.
A recent study has revealed that nearly half of all tobacco lobbyists in Australia have previously worked in government positions.
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