Not a winning combination
Nowadays we usually associate smoking with developing a life threatening illness. Not with physical fitness and sporting prowess. In a time before the national Quit campaign, when tobacco companies used to sponsor sporting events, the North East Leader a Messenger Newspaper published an advertising promotion for the Fairview Park Shopping Centre, on page 6 of the edition dated 9 July, 1968. Women could enter the ‘Housewives basketball championship’ at the shopping centre to win $5 in prizemoney plus a big carton of Trent cigarettes.
In the early 1960s the number of smokers actually declined in Australia – 60% of men and 30% of women smoked (http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/12/suppl_2/ii9). It seems obvious to the reader that not only is the management of Fairview Park Shopping Centre running the competition to get women to come and spend money in its shops but also that Trent Cigarettes is trying to raise the profile of its brand with women and increase sales of tobacco.
It is strange to think that anybody once believed that smokers could actually be fit and good at sport. However, the Australian Government Department of Health website tells us that “Historically, tobacco advertisements have used images and messages that feature health, success, youth and leisure. The constant linking of cigarettes with such messages distracts people from the reality that smoking causes illness and death.” (http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/egtap)
Even back in 1964 the US Surgeon General made public a report linking smoking, illness and death. However, it wasn’t until 1973 in Australia that we started putting the warning “Smoking is a health hazard” on cigarette packets (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-01-10/timeline3a-smoking-report-marks-50th-anniversary/5192838).
In the 1960s the majority of women left work to become ‘housewives’ once they became pregnant. The Reserve Bank Inflation Calculator (https://www.rba.gov.au/calculator/annualDecimal.html) estimates that the prize money a woman could win in the basketball competition in 1968 would equate to $59.59 in 2016. This does not seem to be a large amount. However, women who were reliant on their husband’s earning might have liked to win some money for themselves by shooting a goal. And all finalists received a bonus prize of cigarettes!
By 1989 the tobacco industry supplied 20 million dollars of the approximately 90 million dollars or 22% of the funds provided by corporate sponsors for sport in Australia. Tobacco companies could create a positive image for the practice of smoking by associating their products with famous sportspeople eg: Benson and Hedges secured the marketing rights for international cricket.
Taken from: http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/523649.html
By making amendments to the Television and Broadcasting Act the Australian Government banned all advertising of tobacco companies and their products on radio and television in 1976. In 1990 it became illegal to advertise tobacco in newspapers and magazines. So tobacco companies increased funding to sponsorship of major sporting events, leagues, clubs and teams. In this way they could circumvent regulations and increase brand awareness.
In response, the Australian Government passed legislation to make it illegal to sponsor sport and for the Australian media to broadcast or publish an advertisement for tobacco. This is known as the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act of 1992 (Hoye, Russell; Nicholson, Matthew; Houlihan,Barrie; Sport and Policy: Issues and Analysis, page 89).
Some states had already implemented anti-smoking campaigns in the 1970s and 1980s. However, the Federal Government’s National Campaign Against Drug Abuse actually declared tobacco smoking as the major contributor to drug-related deaths in Australia, so health professionals and the Australian media had to take this issue seriously. A major television, cinema and print advertising campaign with the slogan ‘Smoking – who needs it?’ targeted teenage women and young adult women from 1990-1991. It was not until 1997 that a national Quit campaign involving a network of all Australian states and the Commonwealth was launched.
Check out http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-01-10/timeline3a-smoking-report-marks-50th-anniversary/5192838 for a timeline of key events in the anti-tobacco campaign in Australia.