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27 Jun 2018

The Northern Territory Government, a serial offender, has again received the Dirty Ashtray Award, for putting in the least effort to reduce smoking over the past 12 months.

Releasing the AMA/ACOSH National Tobacco Control Scoreboard 2018 on World No Tobacco Day, AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said it is the third year in a row that the NT has earned the dubious honour.

“The NT scored an E this year, and continues to fail miserably when it comes to protecting Territorians from the harms from smoking,” Dr Bartone said.

“This completes a ‘dirty dozen’ for the Territory – its 12th ‘win’ since the Award was first presented in 1994.

“The Queensland Government has won the Achievement Award for the second year in a row, but it still only scored a C - a C for complacency.”

Queensland was narrowly the best of the C-graders, scoring highest in the provision of smoke-free environments. It was just ahead of the Australian Government for its appropriate, evidence-based decisions about liquid nicotine and e-cigarettes.

Dr Bartone said that all Australian governments must urgently step up their efforts to combat smoking, including reintroducing education campaigns, and banning shop assistants and employees under the age of 18 from selling tobacco products.

“While Australia has made remarkable progress in tackling tobacco, we are in danger of losing momentum in the face of constant efforts by the tobacco industry to promote smoking,” Dr Bartone said.

“Tobacco is unique among consumer products in that it causes disease and premature death when it is used exactly as intended. Two out of three smokers will die from their habit.

“Smoking kills. Smoking robs people, including young people, of their health.

“Governments must do more to help people to stop smoking, or to not take up the deadly habit in the first place.

“Strong government actions, including making packaging unappealing, keeping tobacco products out of view, and keeping tobacco prices high, have helped to encourage people to quit, or young people not to start.

“The Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt, is to be commended for continuing funding of $183.7 million over four years for the Tackling Indigenous Smoking program.

“We know that public education and awareness campaigns can have a powerful effect on people’s decisions, yet there has been no national media campaign on tobacco since 2012.

“It is especially disappointing that, yet again, the latest Federal Budget provides no new funding, despite expecting to raise more than $11 billion a year from tobacco taxes.

“It is important that we stay vigilant against any attempts to normalise smoking, or make it appealing to young people.

“This includes regulating e-cigarettes in exactly the same manner as tobacco cigarettes, and not allowing them to be marketed as quit smoking aids until such time as there is scientific evidence that they work as cessation aids, and do not cause further harm.

“But no one government is excelling.

“Tobacco control is still a public health priority, here and around the world.

“Australia has to reclaim its reputation as the world leader in tobacco control.”

The AMA/ACOSH National Tobacco Control Scoreboard is compiled annually to mark World No Tobacco Day on May 31.

Judges from the Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH) allocate points to the State, Territory, and Commonwealth Governments in various categories, including legislation, to track how effective each has been at combating smoking in the previous 12 months.

The judges called on all jurisdictions to allocate consistent funding for strong media campaigns, and to ban all remaining forms of tobacco marketing and promotion.

They also called on all States and Territories to strengthen controls on the sale of tobacco by banning employees under 18 from selling tobacco products.

MARIA HAWTHORNE


Published: 27 Jun 2018