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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 2850 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

Tobacco is an appalling health hazard. Tobacco destroys lives. My father died from emphysema. I have a very personal objection to the ravages of tobacco and its consumption and abuse. I witnessed through my father's decline and death the appalling impact that tobacco can have and the extent to which it destroys quality of life and indeed destroys life itself. I think we need to do whatever we reasonably can to continue to make the availability and purchase of tobacco as difficult as possible and as culturally unacceptable as possible. Indeed, we need a range of processes and programs that will influence particularly young people, who are continuing to take up tobacco and smoking, despite the enormous efforts that we have put into education programs and attempts at preventing the sale and distribution of tobacco products. To that extent, I am happy to applaud the steps the Minister is taking.

As I said, my speech has concentrated on a range of issues that I think warrant some serious additional consideration in the detail stage. We will have some amendments going to some of those issues, but they certainly do not go to the substance of the Bill. We have no difficulty in joining the Minister through this process in seeking to make tobacco not only as difficult as possible to obtain but as unattractive a substance as we can make it.

Significant representations have been made to me that we need to continue to pursue a coherent and broad-scale approach. I know the Minister agrees with this, so I will not go on about it. We need to maintain the strength and the energy of our anti-smoking campaigns. We need to continue to influence those young people in the community who might be attracted to tobacco to lose that attraction. We cannot just have a single-focus approach to the problem. This is an additional good incremental step along the way to us as a community achieving hopefully a situation where almost nobody, if anybody, smokes at all.

MR KAINE (5.49): I have to say from the outset that I have considerable difficulty with this Bill. As the Leader of the Opposition has indicated, the scrutiny of Bills committee wrote a comprehensive report on this matter. The latest development in connection with that is that only today the Minister responded and said that he has some amendments designed to address "some" concerns raised in the committee's earlier report. We are now being asked today to debate and pass the legislation. Until all of the matters raised by the committee are dealt with, I would find quite great difficulty in supporting this legislation. There are many matters about it that disturb me.

I must declare myself as a reformed tobacco user. I last used tobacco on New Year's Eve 1969, when I finally made the decision to give it away, and I have maintained that since. But I do take a Voltairean view on the matter. I no longer use it myself, but since smoking is legal behaviour I defend the right of those who do so to continue to do smoke as long as they understand the consequences of their actions. The detrimental effects of smoking are widely known. It is a major cause of death in the community. Smoking is an expensive, smelly activity which smokers may enjoy but people nearby find offensive. It is aesthetically unattractive and it serves no useful purpose, but it is not illegal. It would be ridiculous for any legislature to consider banning it in today's world. If that were not the case, I am sure the Minister would have moved to do so now.

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