Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Fighting Lobbyists with Science

By Stephen Luntz

Simon Chapman has fought the tobacco industry, gun lobby and even opponents of wind farms and swimming pool fences.

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For decades Prof Simon Chapman has taken on powerful industries and lobby groups in a quest to make life safer and longer for all.

“When I started, tobacco advertising wallpapered the country,” he says. “It was in every medium. Today it is nowhere except the internet.” Chapman is quick to note that no single person can claim credit for the legislative changes along the way, ascribing progress to “a close-knit team of researchers here and overseas”. Nevertheless, he is particularly proud of his contribution to mandatory plain packaging legislation.

Chapman’s undergraduate degree at the University of NSW was in sociology but his Honours thesis, on advertising directed at doctors by pharmaceutical companies, coincided with a Senate inquiry. When Senator Peter Baume read Chapman’s thesis into Hansard, Chapman says: “It was then I realised research could be more than something that is read by your examiners.”

For his PhD Chapman moved to Sydney University, where he is now Professor of Public Health. In the intervening years he has been the author of almost 300 papers in peer-reviewed journals and written 17 books and major reports. For 9 years he was the editor of Tobacco Control, a specialist publication of the British Medical Journal.

Meanwhile Australian smoking rates have more than halved. Chapman’s influence is demonstrated by British American...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.