Ms HARRISON: My question without notice is to the Minister for Health. How is the Government acting to reduce harm from smoking?
Mr KNOWLES: I thank the honourable member for Parramatta for her question and for her interest in this matter. It is a matter of public record that approximately a quarter of all Australians smoke. It is also a matter of record that each year 19,000 of those people die Australiawide. Smoking is the biggest single cause of preventable death by a factor of 10 from the next biggest cause. On International World No Tobacco Day, the State Labor Government wishes to highlight those statistics.
Those figures are disturbing because they relate to preventable disease such as emphysema, heart disease, cataracts and all the other co-morbidities that can be avoided. On top of all that, we now know that passive smoking—that is, breathing in someone else's cigarette smoke—is also harmful. Studies demonstrate that in children, ailments such as bronchitis, pneumonia, increased risk of SIDS and asthma are linked to second-hand smoke. The Illawarra landmark case last month demonstrated yet again that passive smoking affects occupational health and places in the workplace new safety imperatives. Inevitably, the move towards smoke-free environments gathers momentum.
On International World No Tobacco Day, I welcome Andrew Pennmone from the New South Wales Cancer Council to the public gallery. Together with Andrew, this morning I launched a $500,000 media campaign in conjunction with the New South Wales Cancer Council. The Let's Clear the Air campaign seeks to reduce the damage caused by passive smoking and increase the number of people who wish to quit. Media campaigns are just one part of what must be a multifaceted strategy. Activity has been occurring on a range of fronts, including the prosecution of providers who breach the law applying to tobacco sales to minors, legislation to limit advertising, and, of course, the Government's Smoke-Free Environment Act. I say quite proudly that last year the Government was honoured with a Noffs Foundation award for leading nationally with what has been regarded as model legislation for other States to follow.
I am pleased to advise that the Smoke-free Environment Act is in place and is operating smoothly right across the State. There has been a very high level of compliance in restaurants. In one key survey, not one diner out of 2,646 diners was observed smoking. In the most recently concluded survey, out of 65 Sydney restaurants owned by people of a non-English speaking backgrounds and frequented by people from the Lebanese, Chinese, Khmer, Korean, Turkish and Vietnamese communities—in which the propensity for smoking is higher than the average throughout the community—only one case of a diner smoking was observed out of a total of 2,082 who participated in the survey. That reflects the smooth implementation of a major culture shift in the community, based on this Government's legislation.
There is a clear expectation in the community that this Government will continue to bear down on the effects of environmental tobacco smoke. The Government is well aware of the costs by way of lives and the costs incurred overwhelmingly by our health system, and these factors require the Government's policy to keep moving. The Government acknowledges that more must be done. I am pleased to announce the release of the New South Wales Tobacco Action Plan complemented by additional funding of $1.5 million a year. This comprehensive plan outlines anti-tobacco initiatives for the next four years.
The program has six key result areas: raising community awareness and education, encouraging smoking cessation, reducing the availability and supply of tobacco use, limiting the marketing and promotion of tobacco, tobacco regulation, and reducing exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. These strategies have achieved demonstrable success nationally and internationally. The additional funding of $1.5 million effectively doubles the funds for anti-tobacco initiatives.
Mrs Skinner: From nothing to nothing! It is pathetic.
Mr KNOWLES: Which program would the honourable member for North Shore cut to fund more initiatives in this area? Nothing was identified in the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition this morning in her reply to the budget. Nothing at all was identified.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for North Shore to order for the third time.
Mr KNOWLES: In contrast to that, yesterday I was asked very good questions by Independent members—not members of the Coalition. That happened after the Opposition walked out of the Chamber. I still have not been asked any questions by the Opposition spokesperson. The Opposition is on its own in the position it takes on this matter. The Cancer Council and the Noffs Foundation have been working steadily towards improving the no smoking profile in the community. The State Government has almost doubled the funding that has been made available and now a clear strategy is being directed at reinforcing those efforts. That course has been applauded by all people who are associated with this campaign. The funding is clearly being targeted at approaching the problem of reducing smoking, and the Government will provide ongoing funding to increase compliance with the law.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the Leader of the National Party to order.
Mr KNOWLES: The strategy will also provide $1.8 million for public education campaigns that will be particularly focused on convincing young people that persisting with smoking is against all the trends.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I remind the honourable member for North Shore that she is on three calls to order.
Mr KNOWLES: The Government will commence projects aimed at reducing Aboriginal smoking rates, which are currently approximately double the rate of the rest of the community, and further supporting the non-English speaking background communities. The campaign will also focus on smoking among people who are mentally ill. Smoking is three times more prevalent among schizophrenia patients than among the general population. The New South Wales Tobacco Action Plan is the latest step in a progressive program by this Government to reduce smoking and its harmful effects. I welcome the support of the Cancer Council in the initiative that was announced this morning, and I welcome the council's collaborative work with the Government in pressing home the no smoking agenda even further as we take communities with us in what has been a remarkably progressive program over the last year. That is cause for celebrating International World No Tobacco Day.