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I certainly understand Mr Berry's comments about nicotine patches. They have been shown to be a reasonably effective method of stopping people from smoking; but I understand that, right at this moment, the efficacy of nicotine patches is under review. They have been on the market, on prescription, for quite a few years now, and it is certainly time to have a look and see just how well they have worked. I believe that they should be covered under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme. They are very expensive as a one-up cost to people who are on lower incomes. It is something that the Commonwealth really must look at. It is something that is supported by the AMA. It is supported by various other health organisations. I certainly hope that the Commonwealth Government will continue to look at both the efficacy of nicotine patches and also just how often they do help people to give up smoking. They do not work on their own. People also have to have access to adequate counselling and adequate information about just what smoking does to them. So, nicotine patches on their own are certainly a help, but they are not the answer.
Quitting successfully is particularly important when you realise just how much smoking is costing people. The cost of smoking, which is the theme of this World No Tobacco Day, is around $2,000 per year after tax. If somebody is on a pension of about $6,000 a year and $2,000 is taken out, that is an enormous amount of money. For anybody, it is a large amount of money. So, it would certainly be a major windfall for anybody on a low income if they could give up smoking. We have to make available, again to people on lower incomes, as well as to the rest of the community, the avenues for giving up smoking. Some very salutary statistics were presented in research published last year by Peto et al. They said:
... based on global figures, among 1,000 young Australians who smoke today, fewer than one would be murdered, nine would die in car accidents, but around 250 will die before the age of 69 from smoking related diseases. A further 250 will die prematurely after the age of 69 from smoking related causes.
That really puts in a nutshell just how dangerous this product is. Mr Speaker, I think it is very appropriate that Mr Berry brought forward this motion today, on World No Tobacco Day. It is an issue that affects all of us. It is an issue that affects our health budget and our community generally.
It is good to see how community attitudes have changed over the last few years. Once upon a time, Rothmans would not have had to conduct the sort of campaign that they seem to be conducting at the moment to try to convince people that it is all right to smoke. The facts of the matter are that the community generally does not believe that it is all right for people to smoke, particularly in the areas that affect their clean air space. I will finish up with another statistic. If things continue the way they are now, smoking will kill more people in the next 80 years than were killed in all the wars in this century combined. One effect of this epidemic will be, by sheer weight of numbers, the obliteration of all the gains we have made in the area of cancer treatment and prevention.