Health groups have welcomed a new 5-year plan to tackle smoking in Victoria, saying it will prevent thousands of young people from taking up deadly habit, and help those that already smoke quit successfully.
The plan, announced today by the Victorian Government, includes removing cigarettes from sight in shops and an extension of smokefree areas to include cars when children are present.
The plan is part of an effort to reduce smoking in the adult population by 20 per cent, from 17.3 per cent to 13.8 per cent over the next five years.
The reforms also include a ban on the sale of tobacco at temporary outlets and a ban on youth-friendly tobacco products including fruit-flavoured cigarettes.
Director of the Cancer Council Victoria, Professor David Hill, said with almost 4000 Victorians losing their lives to tobacco every year, it is crucial that the Victorian Government have made reducing smoking a public health priority.
"Each one of the thousands of Victorians who die every year due to smoking leaves behind family and friends 13 years before their time."
"There is no doubt that more needs to be done to stop the tobacco industry from recruiting new smokers and making it hard for current smokers to quit, and we are pleased the Victorian Government have shown a willingness to take this challenge head-on."
CEO of the Heart Foundation (Victoria), Ms Kathy Bell, said the complete ban on tobacco displays in retail environments outlined today, was a vital component of any strategy aimed at preventing young people from taking up smoking.
"Getting cigarettes out of sight in shops helps dismantle the idea that cigarette smoking is normal behaviour, and will reduce the rate of young people taking up smoking. Doing this also provides an effective support for smokers trying to quit."
"Cigarettes are often the first product you see in a shop, with the best retail real estate dedicated to these huge walls of cigarettes. Allowing the tobacco industry to display cigarette packs in shops in any shape or form is basically an endorsement of tobacco promotion."
"We welcome the plan to get cigarettes completely out of sight in shops as they are not everyday items like milk or bread, and should not be displayed alongside them so as to give the impression they are benign or innocuous."
Executive Director of Quit, Ms Fiona Sharkie welcomed the ban on smoking in cars when children are present, saying the overwhelming majority of Victorian smokers are in favour of the move.
"Over 90% of Victorian smokers support a ban in smoking in cars with children, so we are confident that legislation in the area will be largely self-enforcing."
"We know that younger people are particularly susceptible to illnesses such as pneumonia, middle ear infection and asthma attacks when exposed to second-hand smoke, and being in a car with a smoking adult gives them a concentrated dose of second-hand smoke in a really confined area."
Professor David Hill, said he was pleased to see the 5-year plan had acknowledged the importance of mass media campaigns, saying they are essential part of any strategy aimed to reduce the health, social and economic burden of tobacco use.
"We are pleased the Victorian Government has announced additional funding for anti-smoking campaigns and it is absolutely imperative that we maintain support for mass media in the future."
"Tobacco control campaigns play a vital role in any plan to get smoking rates down, but they need to be ongoing and have adequate exposure levels to be really effective," said Professor Hill.
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