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Government must get serious about tobacco.



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ALAN GRIFFIN MP Shadow Minister for Consumer Affairs Assisting the Shadow Minister for Health

6 September 2004

GOVERNMENT MUST GET SERIOUS ABOUT TOBACCO

An article in this month’s Medical Journal of Australia shows the high cost to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) due to smoking related illnesses and how increased spending on tobacco control would reduce healthcare costs.

The Medical Journal of Australia article confirms what many healthcare professionals and Labor have been saying - that an increased focus on preventing smoking would reap huge rewards in terms of saving the PBS money,

reducing hospital visits and medical costs and saving many families the emotional cost of losing a loved one a from a smoking related illness.

While medical experts tell us that smoking has both a social and healthcare cost - this Government only spends $2 million per year on anti-smoking initiatives.

If this Government was really serious about investing in healthcare then they would do something more in this area.

When it comes to advertising, the Government can find $15.7 million for party political Medicare ads, but is only spending $2 million a year on anti-tobacco messages that we know do work.

The Howard Government’s inaction in this area is just another example of them going soft on tobacco.

In June this year the Howard Government caved in to tobacco industry demands to soften the new labelling warnings on cigarette packs.

Labor announced in January this year that we would no longer take donations from tobacco companies and we challenged the Government to do the same. They have refused to do so.

For further information please contact: Melanie Sherrin: 0412 219 018

The MJA article can be found at www.mja.com.au