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  • Major health groups demand rethink on tobacco cuts

    15 August 2013

    An alliance of health groups made up of Cancer Council SA, Heart Foundation SA, the AMA and the Asthma Foundation are calling on Premier Weatherill to reverse the State Government’s decision to cease funding for tobacco control advertising.

    Cancer Council SA Chief Executive, Professor Brenda Wilson, said that the four organisations are coming together to highlight the gravity of the decision that has been made.

    “Minister Snelling has been provided with ample evidence as to why he should not withdraw this funding, we are dumbfounded that in spite of the evidence, the Minister has made a unilateral decision, without any consultation, to withdraw vital funding to an effective program.

    "The four organisations have come together as one to highlight to the public, the government and particularly the Premier that this decision is ill thought out, short sighted and will cost lives. Ultimately we have come together to show the Premier why he needs to reverse this ill thought out decision,” says Professor Wilson.

    Heart Foundation SA Acting Chief Executive, Wendy Keech expressed concern that the perceived ‘savings’ around services to help people quit smoking or discourage taking it up will see the number of South Australians smoking start to increase again.

    “The government should consider the future healthcare savings and avoidable hospital admissions from reducing smoking rates, not short-term budget cuts to vital health prevention programs and services,” said Ms Keech.

    “We call on the government to reverse this decision, and not abandon the great outcomes already achieved in this state,” she said.

    President of the Australian Medical Association (SA) Dr Patricia Montanaro expressed her disappointment at the announcement stating “in making these cuts, the Weatherill Government is not only making a decision that will cost lives, but also one which will pass an ever higher cost burden onto future generations of South Australians, who will be forced to deal with a smoking related health burden which could so easily have been avoided.”

    Chief Executive of the Asthma Foundation SA, David Bedson echoed his colleagues concerns, while also adding that this decision will not only impact smokers but the broader community through passive smoking “as less people quit and more people take up the habit even more situations are created where South Australians are exposed to second hand smoke.”

    “For example with less mums and dads choosing to quit there will be a follow on impact for children, with evidence showing that exposure to passive smoke in childhood is a risk factor for the development of asthma symptoms and for the worsening of pre-existing asthma – we simply cannot sit by and allow this short sighted measure to impact so heavily on the community,” Mr Bedson concluded.

    The alliance will seek a meeting with the Premier and continue to highlight the impacts of this decision.

    Anyone wanting advice on how to quit smoking should call the Quitline on 13 78 48 or visit www.quitsa.org.au.

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