Thursday, 16 August 2012
Statements by Members
Tobacco Plain Packaging
I rise to mention the federal government's historic plain packaging legislation and thank the Attorney-General and the Minister for Health for their commitment to this important piece of public policy. This legislation is of great importance to the community I represent in Western Sydney, which experiences an extremely high rate of preventable illness, including lung cancer. As a former director of the Western Sydney Area Health Service and a former smoker, I am well aware of the challenges facing my constituents with regard to preventable illness and the damage smoking does to your health.
According to the New South Wales Ministry of Health, lung cancer incidence rates were 43.9 per 100,000 people in the Western Sydney local health district in 2008, with the rate for males being considerably higher than for females. Western Sydney experiences higher rates of lung cancer than the New South Wales average, so we must do everything we can to ensure rates of lung cancer and preventable illness fall—especially, we must discourage young people from taking up the habit.
Yesterday's decision by the High Court to uphold the government's legislation is a victory for all those families I represent who have lost someone to a tobacco related illness. It is also a victory for the public health advocacy movement generally. I commend advocacy groups, the Cancer Council, the Attorney-General and the Minister for Health for standing up to big tobacco and winning for all those people out there who have been touched by tobacco related deaths.