Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (18 June) . . Page.. 2019..
MS DUNDAS: My question also is to the Minister for Health but is not about the John James Hospital. Minister, in conjunction with World No Tobacco Day, the AMA has released its annual report card on tobacco control. The ACT has now fallen into sixth place, with the AMA rating the ACT as extremely poor on the support of quit campaigns and adult cessation rates. What is the government doing to address this poor performance?
MR CORBELL: The government is bringing a renewed focus to the issue of anti-smoking measures and Ms Dundas is right in highlighting the fact that the ACT's ranking has diminished since the days of your own reforms, Mr Speaker, in relation to implementing the first smoke-free policies in the country, a very proud initiative of the previous Labor administration.
It was under the previous administration that we saw moves to try to water down smoke-free places legislation, with the consequent impacts on not just the amenity of visitors to those sorts of facilities-clubs, pubs and so on-but, more importantly, to the detriment of the occupational health and safety of workers in those premises.
The government is moving to redress this issue. Shortly-in fact, later this month-I will be releasing a discussion paper on reform of the smoke-free places legislation, outlining options on which I will be seeking community comment as to the complete phasing out of exemptions from the smoke-free places legislation. The government is committed to addressing this issue and will be progressing it between now and the next election.
I want to reaffirm the government's commitment to a comprehensive tobacco control strategy. I should remind members that recently I announced a new initiative of funding over a four-year period to focus on teenage smoking and to focus on ensuring that young people, particularly young women, do not take up smoking. We all understand intuitively the benefits of preventing an addiction early on in life, rather than trying to cure it after a sustained period. The new campaign by the government, funded by the government and awarded to the Cancer Council, will be focusing on positive messages to encourage young people to stay away from cigarettes and not take up the smoking habit.
The government has taken a number of initiatives just in the past couple of months, following the budget, to address this issue and I am pleased to advise members that shortly I will be releasing a range of options for community and industry feedback on how we can completely remove the exemptions in the smoke-free legislation.
MS DUNDAS: I have a supplementary question. Minister, you mentioned your recent initiative about focusing on teenage smoking. Can you please explain why no infringement notices have been issued for the sale of cigarettes to minors or breaches of smoke-free public places since you came to office?
MR CORBELL: It is certainly not because I said, "Don't you dare issue infringement notices."That certainly is not the case. I will get further advice on that issue and provide the information to Ms Dundas accordingly.