Australia's place as a world leader in tobacco control will be cemented if recommendations, released today in the report of the Preventative Health Taskforce, are implemented without delay.
Recommendations for an increase in the cost of cigarettes, a move to plain packaging of tobacco products and funding for anti-smoking media campaigns have been welcomed by Quit as crucial measures to reduce smoking rates in Australia.
Executive Director of Quit, Ms Fiona Sharkie, says she is pleased to see the Government's commitment to addressing the smoking crisis in Australia, and the recognition that ongoing investment in tobacco control is as essential as investment in primary health care, intensive care and ambulance services.
"Tobacco is the number one cause of preventable death in Australia, claiming 15 000 lives each year, so we cannot afford to take the foot off the accelerator when it comes to introducing proven robust measures to drive smoking rates down."
Ms Sharkie said an increase in the cost of cigarettes was a sure-fire way to increase quit attempts, and discourage people from starting to smoke.
"Increasing the price of cigarettes is one of the most effective interventions that can be made in tobacco control, but there has been no real price increase in Australia in almost ten years."
"By increasing tobacco tax, the Australian Government would be adopting a proven measure to 'close the gap' in health inequalities. Price increases on cigarettes not only reduce the number of people smoking but also the amount smoked by remaining smokers, with greater drops observed among those on lower incomes and young people."
Ms Sharkie said the recommendation to remove advertising from cigarette packs and make them plain with enlarged health warnings, would mean the last advertising avenue for the tobacco industry is shut down.
"Where traditional forms of advertising are banned, packaging now serves as the main vehicle for tobacco marketing, serving as a direct form of mobile advertising for the brand."
"Smokers, and those young people thinking of experimenting with tobacco, are influenced by the images they see on the pack, and by adopting plain packaging we can stop the tobacco industry from using the pack as a mobile mini billboard to recruit new young smokers and promote their deadly and addictive products."
To organise a comment from Fiona Sharkie please contact Edwina Pearse on 03 9635 5400 or 0417 303 811