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Tuesday, 4 March 1980
Page: 481

Senator HAMER (VICTORIA) - My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health, refers to the proposal that the tar content of cigarettes should appear on all packets and in advertising. Does the Minister agree that the many diseases caused or exacerbated by cigarette smoking are collectively the major preventable health problem in Australia? Is there any doubt that the tar in cigarettes is carcinogenic, and that the more tar in the cigarette the more lethal it is? Will the Minister do all in her power to ensure, that the public is effectively warned of the level of tar in various cigarettes?

Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle (VICTORIA) - The report of the Senate Standing Committee on Social Welfare touched on many of the matters that were raised by Senator Hamer. He asked some specific questions. I have information from the Minister for Health which indicates that cigarette smoking certainly causes major preventable health problems in Australia. The material commonly referred to as tar in cigarette smoke is certainly carcinogenic. The evidence is that the lower the tar yield of the cigarette the lower the risk to health. However, it must be pointed out that cigarette usage at any level carries a risk and the only safe approach is to avoid the use of tobacco.

The prevention of health hazards caused by the use of tobacco has a high priority within the Health portfolio. The Department of Health regularly arranges the testing of cigarettes sold in Australia for their tar and nicotine yield. The figures are published by the Department on a handy pocket-sized card and provided to the media, the Australian Cancer Society and other concerned bodies with the aim that the information should be as freely available to the public as is possible.

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