Jim McGinty

Jim McGinty

Attorney General; Minister for Health; Electoral Affairs

    Delivering a healthy WA - graphic warning for smokers

    29/06/2005 12:00 AM

    Retailers selling cigarettes may be required to display graphic health warnings in their shops under new regulations being considered by the State Government.

    Health Minister Jim McGinty said the existing health warnings for tobacco products were not strong enough to convey the dangers of smoking, especially to children.

    Currently, retailers are only required to display a message that ‘SMOKING KILLS’ or ‘SMOKING IS ADDICTIVE’ at the point of sale.

    “These notices have become stale and lost much of their impact,” Mr McGinty said.

    “We need to show people - particularly children - the harsh realities associated with smoking.

    “We want to amend the Tobacco Control Regulations so that posters with graphic images showing the health effects of smoking must be clearly displayed wherever cigarettes are sold.”

    The Minister said the Commonwealth Government had recently completed a comprehensive review and would next year introduce a series of new health warnings with images of diseased body parts to be displayed on all tobacco packaging.

    “We make no apologies for showing people what can happen if you smoke,” he said.

    “In Western Australia, smoking is responsible for 1,500 deaths per year and is a major cause of disabling and fatal conditions including cardiovascular and lung diseases.

    “What a lot of people do not know is that smoking also takes a terrible toll on oral health and causes gum disease, tooth decay, tooth loss and mouth cancers.

    “In fact, more than 2,000 Australians each year are diagnosed with mouth-related cancers from smoking.”

    Mr McGinty said if retailers objected to displaying the graphic warning, they could simply cover up their display of cigarettes.

    He said the proposal to require graphic health warnings at the point of sale coincided with the State Government’s tough new tobacco control laws introduced into State Parliament today.

    The laws will ban point of sale advertising and limit displays of tobacco products in retail outlets to one square metre.

    The Tobacco Products Control Bill 2005 is designed to cut the rate of smoking in WA, reduce the availability of tobacco products to minors and further diminish the influences of tobacco advertising.

    The 2004 National Drug Strategy Household Survey released recently found that Western Australians overwhelmingly supported stronger tobacco control laws, particularly when it came to preventing the sale of cigarettes to children.

    The survey found that 90 per cent of people supported stricter enforcement of the law against supplying tobacco products to minors; 87 per cent wanted tougher penalties for the sale or supply of tobacco products to children; and 72 per cent supported bans on point of sale advertising and display or tobacco products.

    The main provisions of the Tobacco Products Control Bill 2005 will:
    • require retailers to check for ID when selling tobacco products;
    • require anyone who sells tobacco products to be licensed;
    • ban point of sale advertising and limit displays of cigarettes to one square metre;
    • restrict the sale of tobacco papers, pipes and other smoking implements to people over 18;
    • double the penalties for people caught selling cigarettes to children;
    • restrict cigarette vending machines to licensed premises only;
    • prohibit hawkers of tobacco products;
    • ban the advertising of price discounting on tobacco products;
    • regulate the sale and promotion of herbal cigarettes and prohibiting the sale of confectionary and toys that resemble cigarettes; and
    • introduce substantial penalties for false or misleading statements by tobacco companies or others on health effects or harm caused by tobacco.
    The new laws to crack down on the sale of cigarettes to children follow restrictions introduced into pubs and clubs that will see a total ban on smoking by July, 2006.

    “This is a significant piece of legislation dealing with an important public health issue and I urge all sides of politics to support these laws,” Mr McGinty said.

    Minister's office: 9220 5000