Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 8 Hansard (4 August) . . Page.. 3440..
Question so resolved in the negative.
Tobacco (Vending Machine Ban) Amendment Bill 2004
Debate resumed from 23 June 2004, on motion by Ms Dundas:
That this bill be agreed to in principle.
MR WOOD (Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Arts and Heritage, and Acting Minister for Health) (3.58): Mr Speaker, the government will be supporting this bill and the opposition's amendments. We are all too aware of the problems surrounding tobacco cigarette smoking. In particular, the issue of youth smoking deserves to be recognised as one of the most important public health issues. I have to say it continues to amaze me that young people take up smoking in the face of the overwhelming evidence of the damage it causes.
Research for the national drug strategy has found that the total cost of tobacco use in this country is up to $21 billion a year-more than all other drugs combined. Tobacco use takes the lives of more than 18,000 Australians a year and is responsible for more disease than any other single risk factor.
When it comes to just about every other cause of disease, we take a preventive approach on the grounds that it is more cost effective to prevent disease from occurring than to treat it after it has taken hold. Tobacco use should be the same. One of the most effective measures we can take to discourage tobacco use is to discourage children from starting to smoke. We know from numerous surveys that smoking is a habit acquired during childhood or adolescence. There is also good evidence that ease of access to tobacco products, and even perceived ease of access, is a key factor in whether a young person will become a smoker. In other words, if young people are able to obtain cigarettes easily, they are more likely to smoke.
It is not surprising that access to the product is recognised as a key marketing issue. Tobacco products are different from normal consumer products in two ways: they are inherently unsafe and, secondly, their sale is subject to age restrictions. In view of public health issues and changing social norms, it is certainly appropriate to review our arrangements for the location and operation of tobacco vending machines.
We have got one of the strongest legislative regimes here in the ACT when it comes to restricting the sale and display of tobacco products. For example, we have restricted the display of those products to no more than one pack facing of each product line and we no longer permit displays to include cartons. We also require that cigarettes be displayed