The Victorian Tobacco Act 1987 – the untold story

Wednesday 21 November, 2007

In the 20th year after the formation of VicHealth, we've taken the time to contact a number of the individuals involved in a report that documented the political campaign leading to the foundation of the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) by Act of the Victorian Parliament. 

The first edition of this report, researched and written by Margaret Winstanley in 1989/90, was not published although it has been used by interested people as an important record ever since. 

Regrettably, Ron Casey, John Clemenger and Bruce Redpath are no longer with us. They played significant roles which will probably never be fully documented. We were able to contact the following, whose position in 1987 is indicated in brackets:

  • The Hon David White MP (Minister for Health)
  • Peter Worland (advisor to David White)
  • The Hon John Cain MP (Premier of Victoria)
  • Andrew Herington (advisor to the Premier)
  • The Hon Mark Birrell MP (Opposition spokesperson for Health)
  • The Hon Tom Reynolds MP (Opposition spokesperson for Sport)
  • Steve Harris (Day Editor of The Age)
  • Graeme O'Neill (Science Reporter for The Age).

We have used their recollections to produce a second edition of Margie's excellent report and have published it to celebrate
the 20th anniversary.

The Victorian Tobacco Act 1987 was indeed unique and pioneering. Although led by the Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria (ACCV), an unprecedented collection of supporters was gathered. In retrospect, it remains astonishing that so many non-political individuals and groups played such an active part in creating a health lobby and took an overtly political position, often for the
first time.