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Thursday, 31 August 1989
Page: 661

Senator POWELL(10.08) —I move:

That this Bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to incorporate my second reading speech in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows-

Mr President,

It is with pleasure that I introduce the Smoking and Tobacco Products Advertisements (Prohibition) Bill 1989. The Bill represents a major opportunity for the Federal Parliament to contribute to the improved health of the Australian community.

Each year in Australia more than 17,000 lives are lost through tobacco-related illnesses. An even larger number of people are severely incapacitated and the cost to the community in providing medical care is enormous. Cigarette smoking is clearly our number one health problem. Governments at both Federal and State levels are doing excellent work in encouraging present smokers to quit. It is estimated that 2.5 million Australians are ex-smokers.

However, at the same time as smokers are either quitting or dying, many younger Australians are replacing them. Smoking rates among young people, particularly teenage girls, are high and in some age groups still increasing. Approximately 90% of smokers begin before the age of 20.

This situation is very clearly a result of cigarette advertising which is aimed at young people and attempts to link smoking with social success, health, wealth and sporting prowess.

This is recognised by all leading health authorities in Australia and by the World Health Organisation. Bodies such as the National Heart Foundation, the Australian Cancer Society, the Australian Medical Association and the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, all have policies advocating a total ban on cigarette advertising. Governments have also recognised this. In 1976, the Federal Government introduced a ban on cigarette advertising on the electronic media-radio and television. In recent years, both the Victorian and South Australian State governments have restricted most other forms of cigarette advertising including billboards, cinema and shop front advertisements. At the end of the last session of the Federal Parliament, a report titled Drugs, Crime and Society, by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the National Crime Authority, recommended a total ban on all forms of cigarette advertising. This was a unanimous recommendation across all four political parties.

The effect of the Smoking and Tobacco Products Advertisements (Prohibition) Bill 1989 will be to end cigarette advertising in the print media. This can only be addressed at a Federal level. In other areas of advertising, this Bill brings all States in line with Victoria and South Australia. As was the case with the Victorian and South Australian legislation, time will be given for industry to comply. In the case of the outdoor advertising industry, existing long term contracts will be able to run their course up until 1 July 1991-the same date as the Victorian and South Australian legislation.

When the legislation passed the Victorian and South Australian parliaments, it received the support of both Labor and Liberal parties and I am confident that that support will exist for this Bill. Certainly the National Crime Authority Committee report illustrates a breadth of opinion in the Parliament in support of an advertising ban. The Minister for Community Services and Health is also on record as supporting such a move.

Similarly the Australian Community overwhelmingly favours a ban on all forms of cigarette advertising. A Morgan poll of 2,251 Victorians in October/November 1988 showed 63.7% approval, 28.9% disapproval and 7.4% do not know, on the question of an advertising ban. A clear majority of smokers also favoured a ban.

This illustrates a willingness on the part of most Australians to give our young people an environment free from the deceptive images created by cigarette advertising. If this legislation passes the Parliament in the coming weeks, it will be looked on as a significant step in reducing the social cost of smoking. If this Bill fails, the medical community, parents' organisations, churches and individual voters, will condemn those who have voted to protect the interests of the tobacco companies, at the cost of our children's health.

I sincerely hope this does not occur.

I commend the Bill to the Senate.

Debate (on motion by Senator Robert Ray) adjourned.