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Government's move on tobacco action has quit's support

Friday 17 March, 2000

Attorney General Rob Hulls has Quit's full backing for discussions on the possibility of a combined law suit against tobacco companies at a meeting of State and Territory Attorneys-General.

Executive Director Todd Harper says he's delighted to see the issue has been raised for discussion in this forum.

'I'm sure that this news will be heartening for the many thousands of Australians whose lives have been touched by the suffering and pain caused by tobacco-related illness.'

'Tobacco companies' products wreak a terrible toll in our community - 13 Victorians die every day from tobacco-related illness. We know that tobacco is the risk factor responsible for the greatest amount of ill health in Victoria.'

Mr Harper says it's been estimated that
the tangible cost of tobacco to the Australia community is over $6.5 billion;
Victoria bears about a quarter of the national costs, with about $3.2 billion dollars spent on the tangible and intangible costs to treat tobacco related illness

'Of course, it's almost impossible to put a price on the pain and suffering experienced by dying smokers and their families.'

'The key issue here is who should bear these costs?'

'The community, or tobacco companies, whose products and actions have caused these costs?'

'There is plenty of evidence of tobacco companies methods to portray smoking as glamorous and appealing. Tobacco companies have fought to prevent consumers knowing the full truth about the harm smoking causes. They've fought against the use of health warnings on cigarettes. They've targeted 'new markets' ­ including children ­ with their product placement.'

'Whilst tobacco companies may cite the revenue the Government receives from tobacco taxes, this does not place them above the law.'

'Paying taxes is not some sort of insurance policy against legal action, and it does not entitle anyone to break the law.'

'Let's remember consumers are the ones who pay the lion's share of tobacco taxes, and sadly, many thousands pay a much higher price ­ they also pay with their life.

'Tobacco companies are not above the law, and they should be prepared to account for their actions in court.'

'Litigation against tobacco companies has been enormously successful in the US ­ with a settlement of $246 billion, and restrictions on tobacco companies marketing and promotional activities.'

'This litigation also exposed tobacco companies unlawful activities.'

ends

Further information:

Zoe Furman
Media Communications Manager
Quit Victoria

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