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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4984 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

his department's report. For instance, if the debate that was brought on by Mrs Cross in the last sitting week had not come on, what would the government be doing about it? The answer seems to be that the government was waiting till next year.

If this is an important issue, and I think we all acknowledge that it is, we are not seeing in the government's response how the government is going to address the issue, which is normally the purpose of a government response: "This is what we are going to do to fix the problems that have been highlighted or indicated."

The government's response is short on answers. The minister heard individuals say at the ClubsACT function that they are not so certain that the monitoring was carried out correctly, so that the accuracy of the report itself is under some doubt. I think that we need to make sure that laws passed by this place are enforced by the minister responsible.

MS DUNDAS (11.19): Mr Speaker, the Australian Democrats have had a long history of campaigning for tighter regulation of tobacco products and smoking in Australia. Smoking cigarettes is the leading cause of drug-related deaths and hospital morbidity. It is the largest single preventable agent of illness and death. In Australia, there were 19,000 estimated deaths in 1998 from tobacco-related disease.

The Democrats initiated a Senate inquiry which reported in 1995 and the major recommendations of that report are now being implemented, including the banning of smoking in many public places. Eight years later, I am proud to have finally participated in the removal of smoking from public places in the territory, a move which many have said has been long overdue, but we still have a long way to go. Our goal must be to substantially reduce the rate of smoking, particularly by young women.

This report reviews the ACT's previous scheme of enforcing the installation of air abstraction equipment in venues that wish to continue to allow smoking in enclosed public places. At the time, that was an agreed compromise that was supposed to protect business revenues and still protect patrons and workers from the harm caused by passive smoking. The report clearly demonstrates that this compromise did not work. The report states:

The primary finding is that markers of ETS are clearly present in non-smoking areas of exempt premises. This indicates that non-smoking areas are not smoke-free and individuals present in these areas may be exposed to ETS. The correlations between ETS markers measured in non-smoking areas of exempt premises and density of smokers in smoking areas indicate that ETS in non-smoking areas comes from smoking areas. Even physical separation did not prevent ETS penetration, as shown by the detection of nicotine in a non-exempt premises that was a separate room adjacent to an exempt premises.

That means that if smoking is permitted anywhere in an enclosed public space the entire premises becomes infected with environmental tobacco smoke. Air ventilation systems have proved ineffective in controlling environmental tobacco smoke. The only option left to legislators is to require that all enclosed public spaces be smoke free if we are to protect the health of people in Canberra, particularly employees, from the damaging effects of passive smoking.

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