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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 25 August 2011) . . Page.. 3850 ..


the territory’s strong history of smoke-free legislation and progressive stance on tobacco control.

A public consultation paper in early 2009 found that 75 per cent of respondents supported the introduction of a law to ban smoking in vehicles carrying children. This evidence was further supported in a survey by the ACT children and young persons commissioner that showed that three in four young people would not be happy to sit in a vehicle with someone who is smoking.

With the passage of this bill, the ACT will join other jurisdictions who have been steadily implementing their own bans since 2007 after South Australia first introduced this important piece of legislation. I am happy to report that within the first year of their ban, South Australia saw a 13 per cent decrease in the number of smokers that smoked in a vehicle when a child was present, from 31 per cent to 18 per cent.

This bill legislates for a ban on smoking in vehicles when a child is present, defining a child as a person less than 16 years of age. This definition is consistent with the legislation in New South Wales and will assist with cross-border awareness and enforcement of the ban.

The new offence on any person aged over 16 years will be enforced by ACT Policing. It is a strict liability offence and is stated as such in the bill. I refer members to the explanatory statement for the justification for strict liability. I would also refer members to the detailed discussion in the explanatory statement of the human rights implications that arise from this important piece of legislation.

Commencement of the new law will be by written notice by me as minister and provides for the ability to delay commencement for up to six months. During this time the Health Directorate will be undertaking an education campaign to raise community awareness and understanding of the requirements of this new law prior to its commencement.

Some members may have seen South Australia’s and Tasmania’s campaign tag line, “Smoke with kids in the car and you’ll cough up a fine”. It is intended that a similar campaign will be run in the ACT.

Children who are exposed to smoking are twice as likely to take up smoking themselves. This bill will remove an avenue for harm to children.

There is strong research to show that exposed children, who themselves often start smoking during their teenage years, encounter the greatest difficulties when trying to quit later in life. This makes it the responsibility of all of us to protect children by preventing their exposure to smoking and environmental tobacco smoke. Governments have a duty to ensure that people are aware of these obligations and do all in their power to prevent this exposure.

The passage of this bill is another step towards achieving the ACT government’s goal to improve public health. It will protect those in our community that are most vulnerable, it will protect children and young people from the harms of environmental


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