PHAA: Roxon wins award for tobacco stance

Press release from PHAA:

Nicola Roxon wins highest public health award for 2012

PHAA Sidney Sax Medal awarded to former Health and Ageing Minister

Attorney-General, Hon Nicola Roxon MP has been announced as the Sidney Sax Medallist for 2012.  This is the highest award given annually by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to public health.  The Medal will be presented at a public health dinner this evening by PHAA’s Immediate Past President, Professor Helen Keleher.


“The PHAA is proud to present an award to someone who has really made a difference in public health,” said Professor Keleher in making the announcement.  “As Minister for Health and Ageing Nicola Roxon embraced public health, understood the role of social determinants and recognised the importance of prevention.  Most importantly, however, she was prepared to take action including standing up to big tobacco and vested interests in the alcohol industry in favour of a healthier community.


“Nicola Roxon’s own words in response to a question when she was launching the report of the Preventative Health Taskforce in October 2009 summarises her approach: ‘we are killing people by not acting’.  As Health Minister from December 2007 through to December 2011 and then as Attorney-General she has pursued public health issues with vigour and with considerable success,” said Professor Keleher.


The most prominent achievement is the world leading plain packaging of tobacco legislation which has only been successful due to her outstanding leadership.  There are also many other achievements in fighting tobacco including a 25% increase in excise on tobacco, a ban on internet promotion, a boost for funding of anti-tobacco campaigns through the National Preventive Health Agency and a $125 million program to tackle Indigenous Smoking.


However, her other outstanding achievements cited in the nomination include:

  • The establishment of the Australian National Preventive Health Agency (ANPHA)
  • Facing down the spirits industry over the “alcopops” tax – reducing the number of young women introduced to spirits in early puberty
  • An additional $50 million into campaigns around binge drinking
  • Oversight of the biggest increase ever in funding to prevention of $872.1 million from Federal, State and Territory contributions

o   Seeking healthier communities through careful targeting of specific groups and settings including children, Indigenous people, workers and local governments.


“The PHAA is proud to have Nicola Roxon accept this award from the Association as it highlights the impact that a Minister can have when they are prepared to provide leadership in the area of public health,” concluded Professor Keleher.