Page 4014 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 30 November 2022

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On 4 May 2022, I presented the Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2022, which, among other things, proposed amendments to the Tobacco and Other Smoking Products Act 1927 and the Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 2008. With the passage of the Health Legislation Amendment Act last week, we are cracking down on e-cigarettes by ensuring that compliance testing regarding underage sales can include e-cigarette products, and better facilitate joint enforcement operations between the ACT and the Therapeutic Goods Administration for scheduled medicines such as nicotine.

These reforms, as well as ongoing actions and programs under the ACT’s Drug Strategy Action Plan and the ACT Preventive Health Plan, signal the ACT government’s strong commitment to improve public health outcomes and a strong response to vaping.

While the government will continue to explore and implement improvements to our local regulatory frameworks, local legislative reforms, in isolation, are unlikely to reverse the upward trend of e-cigarette use. Educational programs, health promotion and community engagement are essential to the success of any sustained reduction in e-cigarette uptake. These actions, wherever possible, should be undertaken in collaboration with all states and territories.

I have been and will continue to advocate with all Australian health ministers to take national action to reduce the impact of e-cigarettes on the community, in particular regarding factors that appeal to children—such as advertising and marketing, e-liquid flavourings, labelling requirements—as well as the importation of vaping products and the safety of e-liquids and nicotine salts.

The first face-to-face meeting of health ministers with the new commonwealth Minister for Health provided an opportunity to put e-cigarettes back on the agenda after the former Liberal government’s party room scuttled meaningful action—undermining the good intentions of Minister Hunt, who was, I recognise, personally committed to addressing this issue. Now, with a federal Labor government—building on a world-leading track record in tobacco control from the last Labor government that introduced plain packaging—I am confident that there will be further progress.

All health ministers agreed that action to reduce the public health impact of e-cigarettes would be a key topic of action, moving forward. I note that the commonwealth government is already working with all states and territories in its review of several key pieces of legislation, which is encouraging, but more is needed. The draft National Tobacco Strategy 2022-2030, currently being finalised by all Australian governments, will be brought to the health ministers’ meeting for agreement, and I will be looking to ensure that it has firm national action to reduce the impact of vaping in our community.

I again raised the need for coordinated action at our most recent meeting and got agreement from Minister Butler to bring back options for nationally consistent work at an upcoming meeting, most likely early in the new year. I will continue to ensure that reducing the impact of e-cigarettes remains front and centre at health ministers’ meetings, along with colleagues across Australia who share my concern. I would

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