Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Sittings . . . . PDF . . . . Video

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 20 October 2011) . . Page.. 4782 ..

around areas which children frequent, such as schools, community centres and childcare facilities, to educate these target groups on the introduction of the new law and when it is to occur.

The education campaign will run for six months to educate and inform the community and thereafter the act will commence. This period should allow sufficient time for the community to learn the health message and make any appropriate changes.

The purpose of the education campaign is to ensure that people are aware of these changes. The government hopes that many people will not face fines under the new act. The government would rather educate people to not smoke around children, particularly in the confined space of a car. The purpose of the fine is to enforce this health message for those who would otherwise willingly endanger children.

With the passage of this bill the ACT will join many other Australian jurisdictions which have been enacting their own similar bans since 2007. After a similar ban was put in place in South Australia, local authorities saw a 13 per cent reduction in those who smoke in cars with children, down from 31 per cent to 18 per cent. This reduction shows that legislation such as this can alter people’s behaviour.

Similar to other government proposals to encourage people to try not to take up smoking, this legislation aims to deter smoking with children as well as to protect them. Children who are exposed to smoking are twice as likely to take up the habit themselves later in life and then show the greatest challenges when trying to quit.

This will not be the last development in the fight against tobacco. In the past five years the ACT has implemented bans on tobacco vending machines, smoking in enclosed spaces and smoking in outdoor eating and drinking areas. Canberra’s strong support for smoking legislation has seen places such as the Canberra Stadium, Manuka Oval and the National Hockey Centre go smoke free and this year Floriade has made moves to follow. Our achievements in tobacco reform have empowered our community with a strong knowledge base on the dangers of smoking.

The passage of the bill today is a pivotal step forward in our goal to improve our children’s health. The bill will protect those in our community that are most at risk, it will protect our children and young people from the harms of environmental tobacco smoke and will deter smoking behaviour amongst this impressionable age group. This bill will create a more responsible, safer place for our children to live.

In conclusion, I would like to acknowledge the efforts of the non-government sector organisations and the Health Directorate in supporting us to develop this very important piece of legislation. It has taken a number of years but the work that organisations such as the Heart Foundation do in this area is vital in supporting us in our campaign to improve the health and wellbeing of Canberrans. Indeed, I say to the Health Directorate, who have struggled, agitated and advocated for change, and who have won arguments across government around how this should be implemented, that it has taken a bit of time to get here but this is an important moment today and I thank them for all of their efforts. Indeed, I thank the Assembly for working unanimously in supporting this legislation today.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Sittings . . . . PDF . . . . Video