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Thursday, 28 July 1921

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - I wish to draw attention to the fallacies which honorable senators have enunciated by way of objection to my proposal. It has been said that if it were adopted it would, to some extent, bolster up a Combine; but it should be plain to the intelligence of even a school girl that all that would be needed to right the balance would be to increase the Excise duty to 15s. If that were done, the cigarette-making industry would have no protection whatever.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Hear, hear!

Senator LYNCH - I claim the honorable senator's vote. If the Committee has courage enough to increase the Excise sufficiently, it will, at a stroke, wipe out the protection which a Combine is said to enjoy, and leave the manufacturers of cigarettes to face the cold blast of competition from the outer world. We have it stated on the best of authority that cigarette smoking is injurious to the young; but if the Committee in its colective wisdom thinks that cigarettes should be made cheaper, by all means let it negative my request. The medical faculty and our own common sense- a veryuncommon commodity - tell us that cigarette smoking is undermining the health of our young people; but when I draw attention to the fact, I am told that it is for the State 'Governments to do something in the matter. What we have to determine is, Shall there be brought within, or kept out of the reach of, the children of this country something which is undermining their health; shall cigarettes be made cheaper or dearer? I say, make them dearer and harder to get. We have brought up the duties on alcoholic liquors to rates more than 300 per cent, on their cost, and we have encouraged the local manuf acture ' of that innocent beverage and blood purifier, lime juice, by a duty of 70 per cent. To discourage a practice which is harmful to our youth, I ask for an increase of the duty on cigarettes of only66 per cent Why should we wait for the "other fellow" to do something ? The " other fellow." is a great help to the persons who wish to shirk responsibility. Legislation of the kind that I propose has been adopted before now to diminish or put a stop to practices injurious to the community, as in the case of opium. Senator Duncan gave us a disquisition on the locally-made cigarette, showing us how it would bend and twist. I ask him to support my request for an increase in the duty, and also for an increase in the Excise to such an extent that the profits of the manufacturers will be reduced to the point of invisibility. I have already pointed out that during the last thirteen years this Parliament has given virtually the same protection to the manufacture of tobacco as to the making of cigarettes, showing an indifference to the vice of cigarette smoking.

Senator Wilson - Have you anything to say against the smoking of cigarettes by adults?

Senator LYNCH - When in a frivolous frame of mind, I smoke cigarettes; but I am treating the matter seriously now. The Committee has asked for the increase of duties for the benefit of industries which do not require more protection, and I propose that it shall ask for the increase of a duty which, by making cigarettes dearer, may diminish the practice of smoking them. The speeches that

I have heard convince me that I am on the right track, and when the opportunity presents itself I shall, even if I stand alone, use my voice and voteforthe amendment 'of the Excise, so that cigarettes may be made as dear as possible.

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