Minister for Health, Mr Harrie Wade was advising parents and authorities on the potential dangers of smoking for young people. Senator Wade said that although he had no power to prohibit tobacco company advertising and sales, young people should not smoke until the dangers could be assessed.
New reports from the United States Surgeon-General had stated that cigarette smoking was a cause of lung cancer and action was needed. Education was considered more important than prohibition at this stage and Senator Wade was eager to study the findings from the USA.
"I am anxious to study the report, which I understand associates increased deaths from chronic bronchitis, cancer of the larynx, coronary disease and other lung diseases as well as lung cancer, with cigarette smoking" he said.
The medical director of the National Heart Foundation of Australia, Dr. R Reader, said the US report should not come as a surprise and that it reflects similar studies and findings researched over the past decade. The striking fact was that tobacco smoking was associated with the overall death rate in the community.
Dr Reader called for a careful study of the incidence of heart disease in smokers and non-smokers had gone on for about 12 years. In the case of men, incidences of heart disease was three times higher in the smokers.
Unfortunately, even when presented repeatedly with information around the dangerous health problems smoking could cause, men and women still did not give up the habit and young people were still taking it up.
Director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Research Institute, Sir Macfarlane Burnet, said young people should be persuaded that smoking was no longer socially acceptable. Macfarlane, who won the Nobel prize for medicine in 1960, gave up smoking himself after discovering the link between smoking and cancer in 1954.
"We must try to stop young people starting to smoke" he said. "The best way we could do that is to get well-known athletes like Roy Emerson and Bill Lawry to come out against smoking" he said.