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Thursday, 18 May 1972
Page: 2831

Mr HAYDEN (Oxley) - Briefly, the Opposition supports the proposal as put forward in proposed new section 100a of the Bill, namely, that the warning statement should read:

The National Health and Medical Research Council warns that cigarette smoking is dangerous to health.

There are a couple of reasons for our taking this view, but they are important ones. First of all 1 think it is very important to identify a responsible and public body that is accepting the responsibility to declare to the public that cigarette smoking ls dangerous to health. The National Health and Medical Research Council is well respected in the community. It is an organisation of some prestige, as for example is the Surgeon-General in the United States of America, whose statements on health matters are regarded as significant statements and ones to be acknowledged as most likely to be correct and not special pleading. 1 would submit to the Committee that the prestigious standing of the National Health and Medical Research Council casts it in a similarly eminent role to perform this function.

My next submission is that it is potentially dangerous and open to misrepresentation to quote that medical authorities warn that smoking is a health hazard, because it will open up a never ending debate. There are some medical authorities, no doubt of questionable standing, who say that smoking is not a hazard to health Recently a medical gentleman arrived in this city with carton of cigarettes in his hip pocket and smoking profusely not only to indicate that he did not believe that smoking is a health hazard but also to demonstrate the firmness of his belief in this respect. This is too vague and uncertain. There is nothing prestigious about medical authorities. This is a sort of anonymous group. Who the hang are the medical authorities and what is their standing? There is no comparability between the standing of unidentified medical authorities and the very clear and prestigious standing of the National Health and Medical Research Council. That is why we support retention of the reference to that body.

There is a feeling on this side of the chamber, and I share in it to a considerable extent, that we are watering down the statement when we change it from a warning that cigarette smoking is dangerous to health to a warning that smoking is a health hazard. The statement as proposed in the Bill presented by the Minister is clear and unequivocal. It draws on the support of an eminent public authority in the community and one whose publications are highly respected. I remind the Minister that when I spoke in the House today I quoted from a number of the reports of the National Health and Medical Research Council, which has stated quite definitely that cigarette smoking is a danger to health, that it is in fact related to morbidity and certainly related to a serious illness such as lung disease. We support proposed new section 100a in its original form, and we will not support the amendment proposed by the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer).

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