In the lead up to the election on March 11, we’re calling on the next state government to maintain and build upon their current investment in prevention efforts focused on tobacco, obesity, skin cancer and alcohol to ensure the burden and cost of cancer and other chronic diseases is reduced for WA’s current and future generations.
Our Education and Research Director, Terry Slevin explains why below:
We can see smoking rates falling in the community - as a result lung cancer rates are also falling, particularly in men. This is no accident. It requires a long-term commitment of effort and resources to prevention programs.
Along with policy changes like smoke-free areas and tobacco tax increases – programs like our “Make Smoking History” campaign are driving down smoking rates. We can report similar progress in sun protection and falling melanoma rates in young adults through our SunSmart programs.
To continue that success, it’s vital that we keep that effort up and also emulate it in other areas - notably in tackling obesity.
This is why we’re calling on the next WA government to commit to investing in the long-term efforts of prevention programs, so that we can turn around the growing cancer rates.
The best way to deal with cancer is to never get it in the first place.
Which prevention programs do we need our next state government to invest in?
Mandatory kilojoule labeling in WA fast food outlets
The consumption of fast foods is a major contributing factor to obesity – a well-established risk factor for a range of cancers.
Research has identified that being overweight or obese is associated with developing kidney, liver, ovarian, gallbladder, thyroid, leukaemia, colon, uterus, cervix and breast (in post-menopausal women) cancers.
We deserve to be informed about the kilojoule content of junk foods to enable informed decisions about what we consume. This is why we’re asking the next state government to require WA fast food outlets to display kilojoule content and Health Star Ratings on their menu boards.
Investment in sun protection programs
While progress is being made, WA still has among the highest skin cancer rates in the world. Further to this, skin cancer remains both the most common cancer and the easiest cancer to avoid in Australia.
We’re asking the next state government to invest in UV meters for high schools and better shade in community areas. These initiatives aim to reduce the level of UV radiation we receive every day. They will help to reduce skin cancer rates in WA and ultimately save lives.
Tougher tobacco sellers laws
Tobacco smoking is responsible for over 1600 deaths per year and 52 hospital admissions every day in WA.
Increased tobacco availability makes it harder for people to quit and results in unplanned purchases of tobacco products. Further to this, there is a wealth of evidence that proves communities with higher numbers of tobacco sellers have higher adult and youth smoking rates.
It’s alarming that a highly addictive and deadly product is more available than bread and milk, with very few restrictions on who can sell it and where. This is why we are calling on the next state government to set a target to cap and then reduce the number of WA tobacco licence holders over the next 4 years and increase the annual tobacco sellers license.
How will investment from the next state government improve cancer outcomes in WA?
One in three cancer diagnoses can be prevented by simple lifestyle choices, such as quitting smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, being SunSmart, limiting red and processed meats, and eating more fruit and vegetables.
WA has a proud history of leading the way on prevention programs for cancer and other chronic diseases – but delivering these campaigns state-wide requires adequate funding.
Investment from the next state government in prevention programs will empower our community to reduce their cancer risk and ultimately save lives.