World says ‘no’ to second-hand smoke
The Minister responsible for illicit drugs, alcohol and tobacco policy, Christopher Pyne, said the theme of this year's World No Tobacco Day – ‘Smoke-free Environments’ – aimed to raise awareness of the health problems caused by breathing in second-hand tobacco smoke, such as cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
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31 May 2007
The Minister responsible for illicit drugs, alcohol and tobacco policy, Christopher Pyne, said the theme of today’s World No Tobacco Day – ‘Smoke-free Environments’ – aimed to raise awareness of the health problems caused by breathing in second-hand tobacco smoke, such as cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
“Second-hand smoke consists of poisonous gases, liquids and breathable particles that are harmful, particularly to children,” Mr Pyne said.
“Children who are exposed to second-hand smoke have an increased risk of asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia, reduced lung function, and middle ear and meningococcal infections.
“Second-hand smoke can also harm unborn babies. Exposure increases the risk of premature birth and lower birth weight. There is also emerging evidence that the risk of some childhood cancers increases as a result of the mother’s exposure to second-hand smoke during pregnancy.
“However, it is not only children who are at risk. Non-smokers living with smokers are more likely to suffer a stroke and have about a 20 to 30 per cent increased risk of lung cancer, coronary heart disease and death from heart attack,” he said.
Mr Pyne said the Australian Government is continuing to raise awareness of the risks associated with smoking.
“The Australian Government has introduced several initiatives to reduce the rate of smoking, such as the graphic health warnings on tobacco products and a new National Tobacco Youth Campaign to discourage young people from taking up the habit.”
“The National Tobacco Campaign has contributed to a reduction in smoking every year since it was first launched in 1997, seeing significant savings to the health system and ensuring Australia remains an international leader in tobacco control.”
The most recent national figures show that the rate for Australians aged over 14 years who smoke daily has fallen to 17.4 per cent in 2004. This is amongst the lowest of any country in the world.
A new report released last week by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showed that there had been a drop in smoking-related deaths from around 19,000 in 1998 to 15,511 in 2003. While this was good news, tobacco was still the largest preventable cause of death in Australia.
For more information on the benefits of quitting smoking, see http://australia.gov.au/quitnow.
Media contact: Adam Howard 0400 414 833
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