Nicole Kidman's latest award as NSW AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR has caused controversy after anti-smoking groups renewed their call for the actress to quit her nicotine habit.

The OSCAR-winning beauty, dubbed 'Our Nic' in her native Australia, was named New South Wales state champion in the Australian Of The Year awards in Sydney on Tuesday night (30NOV04).

Following her triumph, Australian health authorities have reacted with fury, claiming Kidman, as a smoker, is a bad role model for young Aussies.

ACTION ON SMOKING AND HEALTH (Ash) chief executive ANN JONES says, "Her public smoking does reinforce the wrong message, that smoking and glamour and success go together for young women.

"I would hope that, with this latest award, she's conscious of how her smoking does affect young people. She's in a very unique position now to contribute to improving the health of women, not only Australian women but worldwide."

Kidman hit the headlines in May 2003 when she smoked throughout a press conference at the Cannes Film Festival.

Jones adds, "There's a great opportunity for Nicole to improve the health of Australian women by actually not smoking in such a public way."

CANCER COUNCIL AUSTRALIA's anti-tobacco chair, ANDREW ELLERMAN, laments, "Nicole quite clearly and publicly flaunted her smoking when it was quite unnecessary at those press conferences.

"At the very least, you'd have to say that it'd be much more responsible for her to not smoke in public, if not to make a decision to quit."

02/12/2004 17:52