Page 1170 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 4 May 2022

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MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Families and Community Services and Minister for Health) (11.47): I move:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

I rise today to present the Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2022. The bill proposes amendments to three acts—the Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 2008, the Tobacco and Other Smoking Products Act 1927, and the Transplantation and Anatomy Act 1978. These amendments, while minor and technical, will have significant impacts on the health and wellbeing of Canberrans.

Proposed changes to the Tobacco and Other Smoking Products Act aim to achieve two key outcomes. First, the changes seek to increase protections for minors with respect to the sales of e-cigarettes in the ACT. Second, changes are proposed to address impacts in the ACT of commonwealth changes to the scheduling and availability of nicotine vaping equipment.

Consistent with laws in all other Australian states and territories, the Tobacco and Other Smoking Products Act prohibits the sale of tobacco and e-cigarette products to persons under 18 years of age. The act also allows for authorised officers to undertake compliance testing on licensed tobacco retailers to ensure that traditional combustible tobacco product sales are restricted to adults.

Compliance testing involves a young person, engaged by the ACT government, attempting to purchase a tobacco product from a tobacco retailer, under the direction of an authorised officer. This testing allows the identification of retailers who are selling tobacco products to people under the age of 18 years.

The bill amends the Tobacco and Other Smoking Products Act to ensure that compliance testing can be performed for all smoking products, not just traditional tobacco products. Unfortunately, across Australia there are increasing reports of illegal sales of e-cigarettes, including sales to minors. This bill will enable future compliance testing to include e-cigarettes and will therefore offer an additional tool to deter sales to minors.

The ACT government is committed to minimising the harmful effects associated with the use of e-cigarettes by minors, and I have actively worked with other Australian health ministers to further reduce the impact of nicotine in Australia. I will continue to strongly advocate on this important public health issue.

Building on the ACT government’s nation-leading work in this space, on 3 August 2021 this Assembly unanimously agreed to a motion on e-cigarettes that included a number of actions. These actions included that the government would review relevant ACT legislation to ensure that current arrangements are contributing to minimising the harm being caused by e-cigarettes and vaping across our community, particularly for young people.

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