Concerns have been raised by various commentators around the traps that the new tobacco measures will hit disadvantaged people the hardest.

One prominent Aboriginal health organisation isn’t buying this argument. Here is an extract from a statement released today by the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT):

“AMSANT today welcomed Federal Government moves to increase the tax on tobacco, and introduce generic plain packaging for cigarettes, AMSANT CEO John Paterson said today.

“The Prime Minister and Health Minister have got this absolutely right,” said Mr Paterson.

“Aboriginal people smoke at two and a half times the rate of other Australians—with all that means for increased chronic disease and premature death.

“Tobacco pricing through taxation will particularly discourage young people from starting to smoke in the first place, as well as providing a big incentive to adults to quit.

“I know some people reckon that the new tax will hurt poor people more than rich the most—especially Aboriginal people. But they should realise that Aboriginal people have just as much right to good health through ceasing smoking as anyone else.

“That’s what Closing the Gap is all about.

“The moves towards generic plain packaging will get rid of the tobacco industry’s last advertising billboards promoting chronic disease and death—and that’s a huge step forward.

“We’ll back the Government in any legal attempt by Big Tobacco to roll back this crucial reform.”

Meanwhile, in case you missed this article in today’s Crikey bulletin, the University of Sydney’s Becky Freeman and Simon Chapman argue that Australia is now “a global leader in public health reform”.

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