Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 6 Hansard (23 June) . . Page.. 2463..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
established before the end of teenage years, means that reducing access to tobacco products is likely to contribute to reducing the overall prevalence of smoking.
The same national strategy, which has been endorsed by all state and territory governments since as early as 1997, explicitly lists the prohibition of self-service vending machines to prevent access by minors as part of our national response to reducing access to tobacco products. The problem of underage access to cigarettes is well documented, such as by a controlled study undertaken in Adelaide that showed that 45 per cent of children aged between 12 and 14 successfully purchased cigarettes for themselves. This study showed that children were successful on all occasions on which they tried to obtain cigarettes from vending machines. They were not questioned; they were able to take cigarettes away from vending machines.
Here in the ACT our adult smoking rates are among the lowest in Australia but our youth smoking rates are among the highest. Our teenagers are the age group most likely to take up smoking. Almost one in three teenage girls here in the ACT smoke daily-and this is on comparison to only 18 per cent of all Canberrans. The significant number of teenage girls smoking suggests a high rate of nicotine addiction, despite our ongoing drug education programs in schools. It is clear that the ACT will not be able to further reduce the prevalence of smoking without tackling our youth smoking rates, and an important element of that program is to reduce illegal sales and access by children to cigarettes. The bill I put forward today hopes to achieve one element of that task.
Since 1990 we have legally restricted the sale of tobacco products to people aged 18 and over, yet we have allowed hundreds of cigarette vending machines to be installed in licensed cafes, community clubs and sporting venues across the territory. These machines are often left unsupervised, easily reached by children with enough coins to walk away with as many packets of cigarettes as they like. While we have laws specifically prohibiting children from accessing vending machines, they are quite often ignored and ineffective. Prohibiting the use of cigarette vending machines will mean that cigarettes can only be sold with the attention of the seller. This will mean that identification will need to be produced if the age of the purchaser is in doubt, and it will allow greater vigilance in ensuring that children are not purchasing tobacco.
When I originally announced my intention to introduce this bill, I hoped to ensure the ban would be effective from September this year. However, after consulting with the community, including clubs and anti-smoking and health based organisations, the tight timeframes this would require would mean more administrative difficulties for both the Regulator of Tobacco Licences and businesses affected by this law. The bill I table today moves to introduce this ban from 1 September 2005, which gives all stakeholders adequate time to be informed and to alter their licences if necessary. This is also the time that existing tobacco licences are renewed, so the changes will cause a minimum of fuss to the administration of that licensing regime.
The delay before the ban will also allow those with vending machines the time to consider whether to sell the cigarettes directly or to dispense with tobacco sales altogether. Since many vending machine licensees will also be affected by the commencement of the prohibition on smoking in enclosed public places, which is to come in at the beginning of 2006, the most prudent form of action may be to cease selling cigarettes altogether, but that is something for each licensee to work out. The