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Monday, 9 November 2015
Page: 12333

Cigarette Smoking

Dear Dr Jensen

Thank you for your correspondence of 7 September 2015 regarding a petition submitted for the consideration of the Standing Committee on Petitions, that smoking should be illegal.

Tobacco smoking remains one of the leading causes of preventable death and disease among Australians, killing over 15,000 Australians every year. The social and economic costs of smoking (including health costs) to Australian society are estimated at $31.5 billion each year. However, the number of smokers in Australia remains too high, with approximately 2.8 million people continuing to smoke. The Australian Government is committed to reducing this figure and to initiatives that discourage uptake.

A broad range of tobacco control measures implemented over time will help to achieve these outcomes including: excise increases on tobacco, because higher cigarette prices are one of the most effective ways to cut smoking, especially among young people, who are particularly sensitive to price; education programmes and campaigns; plain packaging of tobacco products; labelling tobacco products with updated and larger graphic health warnings; prohibiting tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and providing support for smokers to quit.

The daily smoking rate for those aged 14 years or older over the past two decades has nearly halved, from 24.3 per cent in 1991 to 12.8 per cent in 2013, and supports the view that multifaceted tobacco control measures of governments at the Federal and state level are having an impact.

The Government believes that public health strategies are more likely to achieve long-term health gains and prevent the uptake of smoking, than the prohibition of tobacco. Comprehension of the harms arising from smoking tobacco is crucial in preventing the uptake of smoking and empowering individuals to quit.

Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention.

from the Minister for Health, Ms Ley