Tobacco experts urge Senators pass historic Public Health Bill

Public Health Association of Australia

Three of Australia’s leading tobacco experts from the Public Health Association, Australian National University and Cancer Council have today urged the Senate to pass one of the most significant pieces of public health legislation in decades.

The government will this week introduce the Public Health (Tobacco and other Products) Bill 2023 to the Senate. The Bill will update legislation from 1991 to now include digital advertising, more prominent graphic health warnings, and requiring health promotion inserts in packs and pouches.

It will also standardise the size of tobacco packets and products including cigarette filters, prevent the use of specific ingredients in tobacco products, and limit the use of appealing brand and variant names that imply reduced harm.

“By passing this Bill, Senators can take action on the biggest preventable cause of ill health in Australia,” Public Health Association of Australia CEO, Adj Prof Terry Slevin, said.

“The simple truth is that this Bill represents commendable steps by the Australian Government to save lives and reassert the country as a world-leader in tobacco control.”

Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at The Australian National University, Prof Emily Banks AM, said half a million people in Australia have died from tobacco-related illnesses since the year 2000.

“We need to go harder on the things we know work to tackle smoking,” Prof Banks said.

“The things that we know work include increasing price, tobacco-free spaces, bans on advertising, avoiding tobacco industry interference in politics, and also helping people to quit.”

Cancer Council Australia CEO, Prof Tanya Buchanan, said the legislation reflects the public health and medical evidence to help simplify, modernise, and future proof tobacco control in Australia.

“Ultimately it will give more Australians the chance to live longer, healthier lives free from tobacco,” Prof Buchanan said.

“Cancer Council encourages every member of Parliament to take this critical opportunity to protect all Australians from Big Tobacco seeking to profit off their deadly products.”

/Public Release.