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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 1 Hansard (18 February) . . Page.. 105 ..

Passive smoking

MR CORBELL (Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (3.47): I seek leave to move a motion to alter the reporting date for the resolution of the Assembly of 25 September 2002 relating to passive smoking.

Leave granted.


That the resolution of the Assembly of 25 September 2002 relating to the tabling of an analysis of air quality in workplaces and a Government response to the report be amended by omitting the words "by the first sitting day in 2003"and substituting "as soon as practicable".

On 25 September the Legislative Assembly requested that the government examine air quality in premises which had an exemption under the Smoke-free Areas (Enclosed Public Places) Act 1994 and that a report, together with the government's response, be presented to the Assembly on the first sitting day of 2003.

The indoor air quality study is being undertaken by the Health Protection Service with support from ACT WorkCover. The air quality monitoring commenced in November last year and was scheduled for completion at the end of January this year.

On 18 January this year the Health Protection Service's offices in Holder were seriously damaged by fire. The offices of the environmental health unit were completely destroyed, and the ACT Government Analytical Laboratory was forced to cease operations for just over four weeks. The Health Protection Service is gradually resuming the provision of services, as essential equipment and other resources are replaced.

In terms of the present study, some data was lost, together with valuable background material. It is now necessary to conduct further air quality testing in a number of premises, to compile and analyse the results and to prepare the report of the findings and the government's response to them. Although it is possible that things may move more quickly, I do not currently anticipate that the requested reports will be presented to the Assembly before May this year.

In the meantime, however, I am aware of the concerns expressed in the Assembly's motion about the detrimental health consequences of environmental tobacco smoke exposure. The Assembly expressed particular concern about the health risks experienced by employees who work in premises where smoking occurs by virtue of exemptions under the smoke-free areas act.

Given these concerns, and given the government's commitment to review the exemption system, I do not believe that the development of effective public health measures should be delayed. The air quality study will continue, along with the results providing information to be considered as part of the review of the exemption system.

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