03 December 2013
Cancer Council SA has called on the State Government to reverse its funding cut to critical tobacco control measures following the better than expected outlook in today’s mid-year Budget review.
The review document highlighted that the Health Department's savings target has been eased by $103 million over the next three years and Cancer Council SA wants the Health Minister to re-prioritise the critical importance of tobacco control funding.
Despite major health groups responding to the public consultation with overwhelming evidence that it was a dangerous move, the Government confirmed in October that it would continue with its plan to cut funding for programs which drive down smoking rates.
Cancer Council SA General Manager, Cancer Control, Dr Marion Eckert, said that the easing of cost cutting to the Health Department must include the reinstatement of tobacco control funding.
“The release of the mid-year Budget review reveals a clear opportunity for the Health Minister to re-commit to tobacco control funding measures,” Dr Eckert said.
“The cut in funding will cost South Australian lives and this revised financial outlook allows the Government to reverse this short-sighted decision.
“Tobacco control media campaigns have been a key driver in reducing smoking rates across the State from 23.6% in 2003 to 16.2% this year.
“The Premier announced today that the SA Government would be spending on initiatives such as $5.9 million for a new vision for inner-city living. While we don’t doubt that these projects are important we simply cannot understand how they are prioritised ahead of reducing smoking rates, a measure which will save lives and money in an area which is the largest preventable cause of disease in South Australia.
“In the absence of advertising, the Quitline has seen a dramatic decrease in the number of people seeking assistance and we have no doubt this drop is also reflected in other measures people take to give up smoking.
“Smoking continues to be our state and our nation’s largest preventable cause of death and disease and we urge the Government to take action to reverse this funding cut.
“With around 20 South Australians dying from a tobacco related illness every week, cutting tobacco control advertising will result in an increase in costs to SA Health through the provision of treatments and hospital beds for the illnesses caused by smoking.”
Anyone wanting advice on how to quit smoking should call the Quitline on 13 78 48 or visit www.quitsa.org.au.