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Business Over Health, Ferguson Must Resign as Minister

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Friday, 29 July 2016

Tags: Health, Preventative Health, Tobacco

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Health spokesperson

Health Minister, Michael Ferguson, has walked away from the government’s plan to take strong action to raise the legal age for smoking. These laws would have helped stop a new generation of smokers lighting up.

Tasmanians don't need a Health Minister more concerned about business interests than the health of Tasmanians. Smoking kills at least half the people who take it up. More than 500 Tasmanians die each year from smoking-related illnesses.

Unless Minister Ferguson presents a real plan to tackle the habit threatening the lives of one in five Tasmanians at tomorrow's health conference, he should resign.

Almost no one starts smoking if they haven’t picked up the habit by the time they turn 25. In Tasmania, smoking rates among the youngest vulnerable group, 15 - 24 year olds, have increased by 6.7% in the last three years.

Research published yesterday in a respected international journal shows that 75% of Tasmanians support laws to restrict the sale of tobacco.*  This is even the case among smokers and people born after the year 2000, who would be most affected.

Restricting cigarette sales to people aged over 25 was the only substantial plank in the Hodgman Government's plan for Tasmania to become the healthiest State by 2025.

On top of the many disasters in our hospitals, Minister Ferguson's backing of business over chronic disease prevention proves he's is not up to the job, and should go.

The Minister’s announcement, two days before the State’s health conference, will come as a shock to medical professionals.

The Australian Medical Association has publicly supported stronger laws to help bring down Tasmania’s high smoking rate. They know first-hand the dire need for real action on smoking.