The Federal Government says changes to cigarette packet labelling will have a dramatic impact on Indigenous health.
Addressing a conference of health care workers in Brisbane, Indigenous Health Minister Warren Snowdon outlined the effects of smoking on Indigenous people.
He said almost one in five Indigenous deaths is linked to smoking.
“If we could just get people to stop smoking we’d have an overall impact on our life expectancy of probably around four years,” he said.
Glenda Humes from the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation says she supports the plan for plain tobacco packaging, but she is concerned that raising the cost of cigarettes will not reduce smoking.
“People have to make a choice and a packet of cigarettes, you know if it’s $20, well that’s a loaf of bread – it’s food on the table,” she said.
She says investing in education programs would be more beneficial.
From midnight tonight (Thursday) the price of a cigarette pack will go up by about $2.
The Federal Government is raising tobacco taxes by 25 per cent and banning all promotional branding on cigarette packs.
Health Minister Nicola Roxon hopes the Government’s strategy will lead to a two to three percent drop in smoking rates.
“That means 87,000 less smokers,” she said.
In addition to the federal changes, the Queensland Government will ban cigarette display material in shops.
The Point of Sale signs are already restricted, and the acting Premier Paul Lucas says they will be outlawed altogether from mid-next year.
“People have displays and it’s not reasonable to expect them to change their displays around immediately so a phase in period is not inappropriate,” he said.
“We don’t want to put people to an unnecessary expense, and to give them that phase in time i think is appropriate.”
The Heart Foundation says Queensland’s changes to tobacco advertising will have great financial benefits to all involved.
The Foundation’s Queensland chief executive officer, Cameron Prout, says that will ease strain on the state’s health system.
“The cost of tobacco to the Australian community is $31 billion so it would be over $6 billion here in Queensland,” he said.
“Most of that’s born by the individuals and their families but there’ll be enormous benefits for reducing the impacts on the Queensland Health system as well.”
By Natalie Poyhonen, ABC