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In order to consider liability for smoking related claims it is necessary to consider three important factors:
- The member must have commenced smoking as a result of and during the time of their military service.
- The member must have become so habituated to smoking during their service that the member continued to smoke during and after service.
- The smoking was the direct cause of the illness that has been claimed.
1. The member must have commenced smoking as a result of their military service.
It is necessary to establish that the member commenced smoking whilst enlisted in the ADF and the commencement of their smoking was related to their military service.
- The availability of cheap cigarettes, which is consider to be a significant factor that is only relevant up until and including service in 1973.
- The requirement to live on base such as might be the case during recruit and or initial employment training.
- Peer pressure, being away from home, providing something to do in an environment where smoking was the norm rather than the exception.
Delegates should examine enlistment and service medical records for evidence as to whether the client had smoked prior to enlistment. In the absence of any such evidence, part of the precedent set by the Wall decision is that we accept the member's contention in the smoking questionnaire. Delegates should also consider the nature of the member's service at that particular time. In other words, consideration should be given to those cases where the member was under a “no release from duties” arrangement such as those encountered during periods of National Service, recruit training and sea-going deployment, when the member was unable to remove him or herself from the various stressors and pressures associated with the service environment.
As cheap cigarettes where no longer available in the ADF after 1973, the member must have commenced smoking prior to the end of 1973 for the claim to be considered further. It is considered more likely the younger a person was when they enlisted the more likely it was that they may have commenced smoking after enlistment.
2. The member must have become so habituated to smoking during their service that the member continued to smoke during and after service.
Delegates need to examine the member's contention on the smoking questionnaire and service medical records for evidence of the member smoking during and continuing after their military service. Medical records will frequently contain some reference to the member smoking.
If a member ceased smoking at some time during and or after he or she was discharged from the ADF, then that may be reason (subject to available medical evidence) for a Delegate to determine that he or she had not become so habituated to smoking during his or her period of military service that the “employment related” smoking habit was the effective cause of the later injury or disease. There should be a continuing link between smoking commenced during service and the subsequent injury or disease before liability should be determined in the member's favour.
3. The smoking was the direct cause of the illness that has been claimed.
The Statements of Principle contain references to causal factors for certain medical conditions and these may be used to guide delegates on the relevance of smoking as a causal factor for certain medical conditions. However, contemporary medical evidence must be obtained concerning the link between the claimed condition and smoking before any admission of liability.
Contemporary medical evidence should ideally take the form of a report from the member's treating Doctor or Specialist, or the report of an independent specialist medical referee if a report cannot be obtained from the treating Doctor.