AMA (Australian Medical Association) President, Dr Bill Glasson, said today that Labor's promise to inject another $21 million into anti-smoking awareness campaigns would send a strong message to the community to quit the killer habit.

Dr Glasson said a targeted national mass media campaign is long overdue, but must be backed up by coordinated education and legislation.

"Smoking is the greatest preventable cause of death and disease in Australia," Dr Glasson said.

"It's making too many Australians chronically and terminally ill. And too many kids, especially young girls, are taking up smoking despite the warnings.

"Better education programs and legislation will help prevent young people taking up smoking and will help others kick the habit.

"Federal Labor says it would fund the public education campaign, if elected. The States must do their bit through legislation and ban smoking in all public places.

"Labor's commitment to graphic warning labels that cover at least 50 per cent of both sides of cigarette packets is a good move, but 50/90 would have been better," Dr Glasson said.

Earlier this year the Coalition backed down on its commitment to a 50/50 configuration, announcing instead a 30 per cent front of pack, 90 per cent back of pack configuration - against health industry authority advice for a 50/90, or at least a 50/50 configuration.

Dr Glasson said Labor's aim to reduce smoking rates to 15 per cent of the population by 2010 is an achievable target.

"Convincing such a large number of Australians to stop smoking or not take up smoking will cut costs to the health system. There'll be a reduction in Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme expenditure of up to 17 per cent if Labor's targeted smoking rate is met," Dr Glasson said.

"This would be a massive return on a $21 million investment.

"As a community we must do everything we can to minimise the harm caused by smoking and passive smoking. Labor's policy is a good start," Dr Glasson said.

The AMA's position on tobacco control is summarised in the AMA Key Health Issues for the 2004 Federal Election (see attached or visit for the full document).

Judith Tokley
(02) 6270 5471 / (0408) 824 306

Tobacco Control


Smoking is the largest preventable cause of death and disease in Australia.

Key Issues for Patients

Smoking kills.

Too many Australians are still dying each year or contracting terminal illnesses due to smoking.

Too many Australian kids and teenagers - especially young girls - are taking up smoking despite the warnings.

Key Issues for Governments

Smoking-related illness places a huge burden on the Australian health system.

The Government recently took the soft option when implementing plans for shock warnings on cigarette packs.

While the Opposition is to be congratulated for adopting a policy of not accepting political donations from the tobacco industry, we are yet to see its full policy on tobacco control.

Not enough is being spent in combating smoking in Australia.

AMA Position

The AMA calls on the Government and the Opposition to release funded tobacco control policies before the election.

The AMA calls upon all governments to review relevant legislation with a view to banning smoking in all public places within 12 months of the legislation being passed.

The AMA believes all Australians have a right to a smokefree workplace.

The AMA calls on the Government to introduce the toughest possible graphic warnings on cigarette packets within six months of the legislation being passed.

The AMA calls on the Government to introduce legislation to prevent the tobacco companies stockpiling their products in anticipation of a change in health warnings.

The AMA calls for the introduction of generic cigarette packaging.

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