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Wednesday, 24 August 2011
Page: 9251


Dr WASHER (Moore) (16:51): If I may have a preamble, I thank the member for Bowman for his useful comments. I would like to make a couple comments on the member for Bowman's statements. I thought they were well thought out. The first is that prohibition does not work. I say this separate to this debate, but with cannabis smoking in this country, which is experienced by a large proportion of people, prohibition definitely has not worked, and we need to look again at that issue. However, to come back to the subject of the packaging, which I greatly support and have been on the public record many times so doing, I certainly support this bill. I will detail briefly the reasons why I support this legislation.

Smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable disease and death. Smoking kills over 15,000 Australians each year. We have heard this before, but I will say it again. Smoking costs the Australian society and economy around $31½ billion per year. More than 3.3 million Australians aged 14 and over smoked in 2007. This is 16.6 per cent of the population, down from 30.5 per cent in 1998.

Under the COAG National Healthcare Agreement the government has committed to reducing the daily smoking rate among Australian adults aged 18 years or older from 19.1 per cent in 2007-08 to 10 per cent by 2018 and halving the daily smoking rate among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults aged 18 years or older from 47 per cent in 2007-08 to 23.8 per cent by 2018. I add to the member for Bowman's comments: this is one of the leading causes of premature death in Aboriginal folk.

Smoking is a leading cause of cancer, accounting for 20 to 30 per cent of all cancers. Both active and passive smoking increase the risk of lung cancer as well as other cancers, including stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer and leukaemia. Smoking is responsible for 84 per cent of lung cancer in men and 77 per cent in women. Longer duration and heavier smoking increase the chance of developing cancer. Stopping smoking can greatly reduce the risk of smoking-related cancers. Common symptoms of lung cancer include persistent cough, breathlessness, blood-streaked sputum, chest pain, recurrent bronchitis, pneumonia or chest infections, fatigue and unexplained weight loss. These can also be symptoms of other conditions. Anyone coughing up blood or displaying these other symptoms should consult their doctor. If coughing up a lot of blood, you should go to your nearest hospital emergency department.

The benefits for quitting smoking are: in eight hours blood levels of carbon monoxide will drop dramatically; in five days most nicotine in your body goes; in one week your sense of taste and smell will improve; in one month better blood flow to your skin is improved, so you look better; in 12 weeks your lungs regain the ability to clean themselves; in nine months your risk of pregnancy complications is the same as a non-smoker; in a year your risk of heart attack is halved; in five years the risk of stroke is dramatically decreased, and you save $4,000 a year to spend on other things.

The Tobacco Plain Packaging Bill 2011 is the latest step in reducing the toll on families of smoking-related deaths. It sends a clear message that the glamour is gone. The new packaging will have the lowest appeal to smokers, making clear the terrible effects that smoking can have on health. Identification of the manufacturer's name can be adequately identified by the retailer to provide the customer with the brand requested. The carton packaging that carries the individual cigarette packs will be labelled with the maker's logo. Identification codes to reduce the probability of illegal tobacco will be present on packets of cigarettes on a voluntary basis by the industry. Criminal and civil penalties will apply to sales of non-compliant packs from 1 July 2012. I have no doubt that plain packaging will reduce the appeal of tobacco products to consumers, particularly to young people, and increase the legitimisation and effectiveness of mandated health warnings and reduce consumer confusion about the harms of smoking. Let us all hope that, along with other comprehensive tobacco control measures, this will reduce smoking rates in this country.