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Focus on young smokers on World No Tobacco Day.

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THE HON CHRISTOPHER PYNE MP Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Ageing

Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600 • Telephone: (02) 6277 4842 Facsimile: (02) 6277 8581

31 May 2006 CP34/06

Focus on young smokers on World No Tobacco Day

World No Tobacco Day, Wednesday 31 May, is an ideal opportunity for young Australians to recognise the harm caused by smoking tobacco, and to decide not to take up the habit - or to give it up, the Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, Christopher Pyne, said today.

“Today’s theme, Tobacco: deadly in any form or disguise, underlines the deadly consequences of smoking and emphasises the need for strict regulation,” Mr Pyne said.

“Tobacco smoking is the single largest preventable cause of death and disability in Australia, and while adults are quitting, the Government is concerned that young people are continuing to start smoking.

“The average age at which young people take up smoking is 15 years. Eight in every ten new smokers are young people, and each year another 45,000 young Australians become regular smokers - with serious consequences for their health.”

World No Tobacco Day was an opportunity for young Australians, in particular, to reject tobacco smoking, Mr Pyne said.

“World No Tobacco Day highlights the great variety of deadly tobacco products that are available, including flavoured cigarettes, pipes, snuff, smokeless tobacco and cigars. It underlines the fact that all types, names and flavours of tobacco are deadly,” he said.

“Tobacco companies continue to promote new products. Clever marketing of these products - as fruit-flavoured, chocolate-flavoured, additive-free or organic - may make them appear less harmful.

“Sweet or fruit-flavoured cigarettes typically have attractive packaging, pleasant aromas and descriptors for their tobacco flavours such as ‘Cherry Cheesecake’ and ‘Vanilla Filter’. Some of these products are packaged in glow-in-the-dark packs, appealing to younger smokers.”

Mr Pyne said Australia continued to reduce the prevalence of smoking and was an international leader in tobacco control.

“As part of the 2005 Budget package, the Australian Government has invested $25 million over four years in the National Tobacco Youth Campaign to address youth smoking rates,” he said.

“The initiative will be implemented in two main stages. The first as a Health Warnings Campaign, launched early in 2006 and the second, launching 2007, aimed specifically to impact on smoking rates amongst youth.

“This campaign reinforces messages on the negative health effects of smoking for current smokers, ex-smokers vulnerable to relapse and potential future smokers such as our youth,” Mr Pyne said.

Media contact: Adam Howard 0400 414 833