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Genetic risk of cigarette smoking long since established: Coulter

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" r H E S E N A T E

PR 89/008 CANBERRA January 11, 1989


Senator John Coulter, Australian Democrat spokesperson on Health, today responded to reports that cancer researchers in Britain have shown conclusively that carcinogens in tobacco smoke cause genetic abnormalities in the lung cells of smokers.

"Ten years ago, Bridges, Clemmesen and Sugimura published a paper 'Cigarette smoking: Does it carry a genetic risk?' in the journal Mutagen Research (Vol 65, 71-81) in which they gave evidence that children of male smokers are more likely to be aborted or to be born with birth defects" said Senator Coulter. "This showed clearly that tobacco was not only carcinogenic (caused cancer) but mutagenic

(caused genetic damage which manifest itself in later generations) as well.

"The latest evidence from Britain adds weight to the argument which the Australian Democrats have maintained for some time that promotional advertising of cigarettes should be forbidden, or at the very least, the tax deductibility of such advertising should be removed. So

far, neither the Government nor Opposition have supported us in these initiatives.

"Government-sponsored advertisements warning people about the hazards of smoking have concentrated on the higher incidence of premature and underweight babies of women who smoke during pregnancy, that is, the teratogenic effects.

It is now time for them to talk about the mutagenic effects, reminding men that smoking before they become fathers may damage their sperm and damage any future children.

"The Chairman of the ALP Caucus Committee, Keith Wright, recently recommended that people be removed from cigarette advertising. While that is a commendable step in the right direction, it is clearly inadequate in light of the mass of evidence that cigarette smoking has carcinogenic,

teratogenic and mutagenic effects. Cigarette smoking is a major health hazard to the individual and a drain on the public purse.

"The time for the Government to show some backbone and stand up to the tobacco industry is long overdue" concluded Senator Coulter.

Further information: John Coulter 08 3330277 Jenny Macleod 062-773645