"Sandra Greacen" <address redacted>
13/05/2011 07:51 PM
Subject Plain packaging of tobacco products bill
I am a 67 year old wife, & mother of 3 adult children, the eldest & youngest of whom are smokers. My eldest son got hooked on cigarettes without our knowledge when he was 16 or 17. Our youngest, a daughter, started smoking when she was 12 without my knowledge. She easily & readily got cigarettes from a vending machine at the Sylvania bowling alley. She wasn't supposed to frequent the bowling alley at all, but went to great lengths to deceive me. By the age of 16 she was hooked on cigarettes & mixing with a bad crowd. She was rebellious & though we did everything in our power to thwart her bad behaviour, including smoking, she wasn't to be deterred.
Our 41 year old son has tried to give up the filthy habit a number of times, but works in the registered club industry & has a wife who smokes, smoked right through her pregnancy, & continues to smoke around their 3 year old daughter. He insists it is very difficult to kick the habit when every day in his home & working life he is around smokers. As far as I'm concerned this does not excuse the filthy destructive habit. I know the suffering an uncle endured dying from lung cancer. He had been a very heavy smoker & he died a very cruel painful death.
My husband had bowel cancer in 2000 & surgery cured him. To this day he remains free of this cancer. Unfortunately, just 21 months after the bowel cancer he was diagnosed with metastatic thyroid cancer totally unrelated to his previous bowel cancer. He had radical surgery & was lucky that he didn't lose his voice-box. He endured 8 weeks of external radiotherapy, & 4 rounds of radioactive iodine ablation over a period of 2 1/2 years, but still blood tests showed evidence that there were thyroid cancer metastases present 'somewhere' in his body, they just didn't show up in scans until 3 years after his surgery when metastases were revealed in both lungs. He'd reached the tolerance safety limit of both radiotherapy & radioactive iodine, more of either risked causing leukaemia. There was no other treatment oncologists could offer.Thyroid cancer is a cancer that does not respond to chemotherapy so as a rule it isn't used. The cancer continued to spread through his lungs until 3 years ago he started occasionally spitting up blood-stained saliva. Doctors were sure it was coming from his lungs, but he was adamant it was coming from the back of his nasal passages & resisted further investigation. After a year of intermittent episodes he suffered heavy bleeding 2 nights in a row & had the cause investigated. The source was found to be a bleeding tumour at the base of his windpipe & because he had reached the safety limit for external radiotherapy & radioactive iodine, he had internal brachytherapy in hospital over a period of 5 hours. The lung specialist told us he expected my husband to have to be on oxygen within 2 years.
Through searching the internet I discovered a clinical trial through Mayo Clinic in America of a tyrosine kinase inhibitor drug for metastatic thyroid cancer sufferers who had not responded to conventional treatment.There was a trial site in Australia in Perth. Unfortunately for us, we live in Sydney. My husband was accepted into this trial in Feb 2010 & was required to fly to Perth every 4 weeks staying 2 or 3 days for monitoring. We are retired age pensioners, but there was NO financial assistance from any source, not government (State or Federal) & not from our medical insurance fund to which we have belonged in the highest cover since 1988. We were told it was because it was a clinical trial (that just MIGHT have saved his life). We outlayed in excess of $20,000 for travel & accommodation expenses up till Jan this year, when he was taken out of the trial because the treatment had ceased to have any beneficial effect, was causing severe side effects, & the cancer was growing. We were told we'd run out of options. There is another tyrosine kinase inhibitor type of drug being used in America on thyroid cancer & also available through our PBS in Australia for some cancer, including renal cancer which is a similar profile, similar acting type of cancer to thyroid cancer. Neither respond to conventional chemotherapy. Unfortunately thyroid cancer & unresponsive thyroid cancer is fairly rare so in Australia there is little funding for it & they don't have the required 'numbers' to get thyroid cancer accepted to have access to this drug, so people like my husband just DIE! We could get this drug (Sutent or Sunitinib) if we could pay the cost (about $60,000 per year). We simply don't have that sort of money. We have been told to get our affairs in order & my husband is being treated by a palliative specialist. I have to watch him deteriorate day by day. Eventually & inevitably the cancer will claim his life, probably sooner rather than later.
We aren't smokers, our smoking children are banned from smoking in our home or outside it. My hgusband has never been a smoker, but worked for many years in an office where the majority were smokers & it wasn't unusual for the air to be hazy from cigarette smoke. I was glad when employees were banned by law from smoking indoors. I don't have proof that working all those years in the smoking environment weakened his lungs & allowed the cancer to spread there, but it certainly did nothing to keep his lungs healthy. He has always been very fit, active, & healthy, played sport including squash, tennis, & golf until one by one since last year,he has had to give up as his health deteriorated. We have always followed a healthy diet.
I abhor smoking & am fed up with the total disregard most smokers have for everyone else. I am disgusted seeing them ashing cigarettes & throwing buts (usually still alight) out of their car windows. I am sick & tired of having to walk past & push my way through smokers (some inpatients hooked up to drips) congregated right outside hospital entrances & right next to signs saying smoking is banned anywhere on hospital grounds. This never seems to be policed. I am fed up with smokers puffing away in covered carparks at big shopping centres (eg Westfield Miranda Fair & others) & also right outside main entrances of such shopping centres, beside & under signs saying it is illegal. I don't give 2 hoots if they want to kill themselves, so long as they do it in & on their own private property. The areas where these people congregate to smoke illegally is always covered in stubbed out cigarette butts & some of the offenders are employees in the shopping centres & hospitals. Security staff never seem to police these areas or take any action against people who think the law doesn't apply to them.
Anything laws can do to discourage smoking, and this includes the current proposed legislation, is a step in the right direction from my point of view. I wish it was totally banned, or at least cost $500.00 a packet. I support the proposed legislation, but think the colours of the packaging could be made even MORE unappealing. Smoking predisposes people to many types of cancer, not just lung cancer. please pass this law & continue to do anything possible to discourage smoking. Cigarette & tobacco companies should be heavily penalised for the many years they lied &
covered up the evidence of the dangers of tobacco & cigarettes.
The Tobacco Plain Packaging Information Kit provides practical information on the responsibilities and obligations of retailers and other suppliers of tobacco products under the new Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011.
eHealth.gov.au is your gateway to Australia's personally controlled electronic health record system, linking you to information about eHealth records and the system itself. Visit www.ehealth.gov.au
On 20 April 2012, the Prime Minister and Minister Butler unveiled a comprehensive package of reforms to build a better, fairer, more sustainable and more nationally consistent aged care system.