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Thursday, 9 December 1971
Page: 4382

Mr FOX (HENTY, VICTORIA) - I ask the Treasurer: ls he aware that there is a strong body of medical opinion which suggests that there is a relationship between cigarette smoking and the incidence of lung cancer and heart disease, the major cause of these diseases being considered to be the tar content of cigarettes? In an endeavour to persuade manufacturers to produce cigarettes with a lower tar content, will the Treasurer consider providing a sliding scale of excise duties so that those brands which have the lowest tar content will attract the lowest rates of duty? If the answer is in the affirmative, will he take into consideration both the gain to revenue from excise duty on cigarettes and the cost to the taxpayer of providing medical treatment and hospialisation for sufferers from heart disease and lung cancer?

Mr SNEDDEN (BRUCE, VICTORIA) (Treasurer) - Like everybody else,I am concerned about the prevalence of lung cancer and heart disease, but whether those diseases are directly caused by cigarette smoking I do not know. So farI have not seen any conclusive evidence to that effect and, as I understand the position, there is still argument on the question. The balance of opinion seems to be that there isa direct causal connection. If this is so I would think it is more a matter for the Department of Health. I do not favour the use of revenue procedures to encourage or discourage something which relates directly to the health of the community. However, I will give close attention to the honourable gentleman's question to see whether the course he suggests is practicable.

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