World No Tobacco Day Puts Health Professionals in the Spotlight

AMA President, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, said today that doctors are in an excellent position to take a prominent role in the tobacco control debate.

Today is World No Tobacco Day and this year's theme focuses on the role of health professionals in tobacco control.

Dr Haikerwal said comprehensive tobacco control programs should involve a mix of initiatives including taxation and pricing measures and legislation for smoke-free environments.

Dr Haikerwal said programs should also focus on prevention through education, communication, and campaigns that raise awareness of the serious effects of tobacco on health.

"Doctors have a critical role to play by educating patients and helping them to quit smoking by giving them information about harm caused by tobacco use and advice about how to give up the killer habit," Dr Haikerwal said.

"Counselling by health professionals on the dangers of smoking and the importance of quitting is one of the most cost-effective methods of stopping people smoking or taking it up," Dr Haikerwal said.

Doctors can help patients by:

  • Including tobacco control as part of their work routine
  • Asking their patients about their attitude toward tobacco
  • Promoting a tobacco-free life, and setting an example through their own behaviour
  • Advocating with their colleagues for smoke-free places.

"With a long history of advocacy on tobacco control, the AMA has had many wins over the last few decades with changes to taxation, the introduction of health warnings on cigarette packets and the acknowledgement by tobacco companies that their products are addictive and harmful," Dr Haikerwal said.

"The AMA has is committed to working with other key stakeholders for a total smoking ban in all Australian workplaces. People have a right to a clean, safe working environment. This is the best way to give all Australian workers healthier workplaces," Dr Haikerwal said.

31 May 2005

CONTACT: Judith Tokley (02) 6270 5471 / (0408) 824 306

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