WARNING: anti-smoking measures may be dangerous to your health - at least, if
you're a psychiatric patient. In the latest Medical Journal of Australia, a
group of mental health researchers reveal that between 50 per cent and 80 per
cent of neuropsychiatric patients are smokers, while the rate of smoking in the
general population is around 28 per cent. The researchers, led by Professor P.
R. Sandberg of the Division of Neurological Surgery at the University of South
Florida, make a plea for cigarettes to be perceived as part of therapy. They
write: "There is evidence emerging that some anti-smoking measures may produce
negative socioeconomic and health-related consequences for those suffering from
In particular, they question the use of taxation as a method of deterring
smoking (and raising government revenue). At the moment, about half of what a
smoker pays for a pack of fags is tax. "We have found in our ongoing study in
Melbourne that people who are schizophrenic who smoke are typically consuming 40
cigarettes per day at a cost of approximately 35 per cent of their income.
Thus, relatively meagre resources remain for recreation, self-presentation and
other positive activities. In effect, further taxation increases may be
economically disastrous for these individuals and could compromise their
capacity for independent living."
The researchers also question the idea of smoke-free psychiatric units in
hospitals. Suddenly deprived of nicotine, the patients may suffer "insomnia,
inattention, anxiety, depression, irritability, restlessness and weight gain
along with changes in heart rate (which) can aggravate pre-existing psychiatric
conditions and could lead to problems in making the correct diagnosis". Further,
there is a theory that nicotine may improve attention and cognitive functioning
in people with schizophrenia and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, so
some mental patients may be "self-medicating by obtaining nicotine through
The researchers do not go so far as to suggest that cigarettes should be
available on prescription, but they warn that public anti-smoking policies must
pay more attention to the needs of "vulnerable individuals". We can conclude:
1. Knowing what tobacco does to you (makes you smelly and cancerous), you'd
have to be mad to smoke.
2. Since all smokers are therefore, by definition, mad, they may need
nicotine to help them function in society.
3. Cigarettes should be available free to all people who can prove they are
mad, ie, all those who are already smokers.
THE Australian Broadcasting Authority has interviewed 117 Sydney, Melbourne
and Perth schoolchildren on their TV preferences and concluded that they mainly
enjoy American shows aimed at much older people. The ABA report says the five-
to 12-year-olds use Lois & Clark, Baywatch, The Simpsons and Neighbours as
"social glue in the school playground". They even lie about whether they have
seen a program in order to commune with their peers.
Australia Associated Press reports that the children expressed their
preference for programs by such measures as "don't go to the toilet", "sick
(good)" "rad" and "feral". Children aged 11 and 12 gave these accolades to Lois
& Clark, Baywatch, Beverly Hills 90210, Home and Away, Gladiators, The Simpsons
and The X-Files. Those aged 9 and 10 preferred The Brady Bunch, The Simpsons,
Home and Away and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Those aged 6 and 7 nominated
Bananas in Pyjamas, The Simpsons, The Brady Bunch, A*mazing and Blinky Bill. But
children as young as five were keen to seem older, shrugging off programs they
had outgrown, describing Play School and Paddington Bear as "boring". They said
they liked seeing children their own age up to adults in their early 20s.
On the issue of whether they preferred programs made in America or Australia,
"a strong sense of location and place ... was not stated by children as their
main reason for enjoying a program", the report said. The ABA researchers asked
Sydney grade 3 and 4 children how they would feel if there were no more
children's TV programs made. Their reactions included: "Kill them"; "Sue them";
"Sue their pants off"; "I'd tell someone to tell the President or someone".
They also claimed to be unconcerned whether characters were good looking ...
up to a point. As a Sydney 11-year-old pointed out, Superman could not be short
and fat, because "how would he be able to fly?"
TODAY is September 13, birthday of English scribbler J(ohn) B(oynton)
Priestley (1894), unexpected Welshman Roald Dahl (1916), Lithgow Flash Marjorie
Jackson-Nelson (1931), impossible missionary Barbara Bain (1934), deep actor
Jacqueline Bisset (1944), Aussie waxhead Bernard "Midge" Farrelly (1944) and
Croatian ace Goran Ivanisevic (1971). Today in 1788, New York was declared the
first federal capital of the US; in 1900, the world's first full-length film, a
religious epic called Soldiers of the Cross premiered in Melbourne.
THE Red Cross Blood Bank will be at Jannali High School from 9 am to 2 pm
today. At 7 pm the bank announces Youth Donor Awards at UTS on Broadway. 9291
IMMIGRATION Minister Philip Ruddock is guest at a community Open Day at The
Migrant Resource Centre, level 6, 169 Macquarie Street, Parramatta, 11.30 am.
SINGER Grace Knight helps the Sydney casino celebrate its first birthday at
7.30 pm. 9362 3223.
SOCOG's new symbol for Sydney 2000 will be launched at Cockle Bay, in Darling
Harbour, at 5 pm tomorrow.
FLORIADE, Canberra's annual flower spectacular, opens tomorrow. 1800 020 141.
THE Community Aid Abroad Freedom From Hunger Doorknock begins tomorrow and
runs till Sunday week. Call 1800 034 034 to volunteer, or with your knock-knock
joke. Mike Smith of Frenchs Forest wins a $50 voucher from the One World Gift
Shop for: Knock Knock! Who's There? Avon. Avon Who? Avon Calling - Your
ON Sunday, Fred Nile celebrates his 62nd birthday and 15 years in Parliament.
ON Monday at 11 am, NSW Health Minister Andrew Refshauge opens a new child
protection centre called the Central Sydney Scarba Service at 155 Pitt Street,
Redfern. 9241 1011. But most of Sydney's media will probably be at the press
conference at which Danny DeVito launches his new children's film, Matilda,
based on a Roald Dahl story and starring DeVito's wife, Rhea Perlman.
TASMANIAN Green Senator Bob Brown made himself few friends yesterday when he
used Senate Question Time to mount an assault on a cherished perk of federal
politicians - first-class air travel. Noting that Ansett had flagged its
intention to switch to a two-class system (business and economy), he asked
Assistant Treasurer Senator Jim Short why the Government did not eliminate
first-class travel for pollies and senior bureaucrats. Short ducked and weaved,
eventually noting he himself had tried to set an example for several years by
going business class, "but I found myself so lonely I came back to first class".
WHAT happens when your local Labor MP packs up and leaves Campbelltown for
the convenience of the North Shore? Now that Olympics Minister Michael Knight
lives at East Roseville, the Premier's office, it seems, has become a bit
confused. A Carr staffer wrote recently to Charlie Lynn, addressing him as
"Shadow Member for Campbelltown". Lynn is an Upper House Liberal MLC with an
office out west.
AFTER embarking on a music career with his guitar band Lurch, Home and Away
star Nick Freedman denies that he is taking the cliche soapie-to-pop star route
pioneered by Kylie Minogue. "I'm up against silly prejudices that say you can
only be recognised creatively in one field - which is usually just a
manufactured image anyway," Freedman, 27, told the British Press Association.
"But Lurch's music is bigger than nonsense like that." In the soap, Freedman
plays Alex Bennett, the squeeze of Shannon Reed, played by Isla Fisher. He also
happens to be a trained classical guitarist, and his mouthpiece says he played
in various bands for nine years before "poverty got the better of him and he
accepted a role in Home and Away". Freedman's character was written out of Home
and Away two months ago, so now, it seems, poverty has again raised his head.
Lurch will perform at two Sydney pub dates later this month.
THE audience who turned up to hear Babe producer George Miller deliver the
1996 Larry Adler Lecture at the Regent Hotel on Wednesday night were surprised
that Miller didn't gossip about Hollywood. Instead, Miller concentrated on Mad
Max, pigs and censorship. But during his closing remarks, David Williamson
dredged up one anecdote. Williamson said that Miller's LA house had been robbed,
twice, and that the experience had left Miller and his family spooked. He was
even considering moving back to Oz. To calm his nerves, his movie studio
organised to have a helicopter pick up a replica police car from its lot and
dump it in Miller's driveway as a deterrent to future thieves. Miller stayed in
DEPUTY Opposition Leader Gareth Evans may complain of Relevance Deprivation
Syndrome, but his successor as Labor's Senate Leader, John Faulkner, is thriving
as he sets about landing punches on Liberal Ministers. Faulkner's background as
a schoolteacher got the better of him this week. Having grilled Social Security
Minister Jocelyn Newman over the abolition of the Commonwealth Dental Health
Scheme, which aided pensioners, he put out a press statement reminiscent of a
student's essay. The statement itself was only seven paragraphs long, but it
ended with three footnotes, one of which continued for two-and-a-half pages.
Faulkner has not yet learned about the attention span of journalists.
AUSTRALIA'S TOP RENTING VIDEOS
4. Leaving Las Vegas
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7. * Sense and Sensibility
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