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December 15th, 2009:

Smoking deaths blow out insurance premiums

A major new survey of Australian insurance policies shows tobacco’s massive toll in deaths, disability and disease – and on insurance premiums and payouts.

The study just released by the Investment and Financial Services Association and KPMG Actuaries, based on over 8 million lives insured and 16,000 claims totalling more than $2b, shows:

· Females smokers are almost two and a half times as likely (248%) as non-smoking females to be the subject of life insurance claims;

· Males who smoke are 75% more likely to be a subject of death claims than non-smoking males;

· Trauma cover claims are 41% more likely from smoking than non-smoking, and 25% more likely from smoking than non-smoking females.

Commenting on the survey findings, Associate Professor Matthew Peters, Chairman of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Australia , said:

“We’re all going to die, but smokers are dying much earlier.

“This is not a function of old age – the mortality and disability disparity between smokers and non-smokers is seen at all ages but the gap widens dramatically even from the age of 30.

“This survey shows that even though women smoke less than men, far more female smokers are dying early than male smokers.

“This confirms the urgency of action by the Australian government to implement the recommendations of the Preventative Health Taskforce, including raising tobacco tax, boosting quit campaigns and ending all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

Adds ASH Chief Executive Anne Jones: “We welcome the news that the insurance industry will now take extra steps to better inform smokers about the benefits of quitting – including paying lower premiums.

“These results no doubt underestimate the full tobacco toll – because poorer people have higher smoking rates but are less likely to be insured.”