Health leaders have paid tribute to former Victorian Premier John Cain for his public health legacy, including the establishment of VicHealth and tobacco control reforms. Cain, who died on 23 December after suffering a stroke on 10 December, was 88.
Health Minister Greg Hunt, referring to his father, the late Alan Hunt (a former member of the Victorian Legislative Council), also tweeted out a personal tribute.
Statement by VicHealth
VicHealth pays tribute to former Victorian Premier the Honourable John Cain whose leadership and vision led the creation of health promotion foundation VicHealth in 1987.
VicHealth CEO Dr Sandro Demaio said John Cain was a visionary leader, dedicated to improving the health of all Victorians.
“John Cain’s leadership contributed to the transformation of health promotion in Victoria and around the world. Thanks to his vision, millions of Victorians live healthier and happier lives,” Dr Demaio said.
“Victoria was a very different place when John Cain became Premier – smoking was commonplace and tobacco advertising was rampant.
“John Cain put politics aside to enact groundbreaking tobacco control reforms and established VicHealth – the world’s first health promotion foundation.
“In the face of backlash and opposition he was resolute, putting the health and wellbeing of Victorians above the profits of the tobacco industry who lobbied hard against his reforms.”
“John Cain’s actions over thirty years ago are a key reason why Victoria has one of the lowest smoking rates in the world.”
VicHealth Chair Fiona McCormack said John Cain’s legacy will live on in VicHealth’s work.
“John Cain established VicHealth to promote and protect the wellbeing of Victorians, and was a staunch supporter of the foundation in the decades since,” Ms McCormack said.
“On behalf of the staff and board of VicHealth, I’d like to extend my deepest sympathies to Mr Cain’s wife Nancye and his family.”
Statement by Cancer Council Victoria
Cancer Council Victoria has paid tribute to the enormous public health legacy of the former premier of Victoria, the Honourable John Cain.
As Victoria’s 41st premier, he was instrumental in delivering tobacco control measures, which began the decline in smoking rates and curbed the influence of the tobacco industry.
Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper said the Cain Government worked with Cancer Council Victoria to establish Quit Victoria, the early activities of which included sponsorship of the Fitzroy Football Club.
Mr Cain oversaw the passage of the Tobacco Act 1987 and many other cancer control initiatives throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The Tobacco Act created a health promotion levy on sales of tobacco products, restricted tobacco advertising and established the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation – now known as VicHealth.
VicHealth was set up with bipartisan support to manage the increased funds from the health promotion levy on tobacco products and buy out existing tobacco sponsorships of sport and the arts.
VicHealth went on to increase funding to the Cancer Council’s Quit program.
Mr Harper said Mr Cain maintained a lifelong interest in tobacco control and the ongoing work of Quit, Cancer Council Victoria and VicHealth to promote the health of Victorians.
“He was very proud of the work of these organisations, and the legacy they continue to create,” Mr Harper said.
Cancer Council Victoria offers its sincere condolences to Mr Cain’s family.
Read the original media release from the Victorian Government after the Tobacco Bill was passed in 1987.
Many journalists and media figures also paid tribute.