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Australian opposition leader pledges to fight smoking if elected PM

Apr 10, 2019

CANBERRA, April 10 (Xinhua) -- The Opposition Australian Labor Party (ALP) has announced a plan to reduce Australia's smoking rate.

Bill Shorten, leader of the ALP, on Wednesday committed 63.4 million Australian dollars (45.1 million U.S. dollars) for "the most significant push to cut Australia's smoking rates" since 2012 if he is elected prime minister in May's general election.

The funding will pay for a graphic national anti-smoking campaign that will feature explicit images of the effects of smoking and for support services for those trying to quit the habit.

Approximately 12 percent of Australians smoke every day, a figure that has plateaued in recent years.

Shorten said that Labor's plan to push the rate below 10 percent could save 55,000 lives and deliver 740 million Australian dollars (526.4 million USD) in healthcare savings.

Lung cancer is Australia's fifth most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer death.

According to the Cancer Council, lung cancer killed 8,410 Australians in 2016 alone. It has a five-year survival rate of 17 percent.

"That's why Labor will reintroduce and re-energise Australia's landmark National Tobacco Campaign and support Australians with lung cancer," Shorten told News Corp Australia.

The money committed on Wednesday comes from Labor's proposed 2.3 billion AUD (1.63 billion USD) package to significantly reduce Australian cancer patients' out-of-pocket costs for treatment.

Shorten said it would be the most significant step in combatting smoking in Australia since the introduction of plain packaging laws for cigarettes in 2012.

Source: Xinhua