Page 229 - Week 01 - Thursday, 9 December 2004

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Smoking (Prohibition in Enclosed Public Places) Amendment Bill 2004

Mr Corbell, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (11.18): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am delighted to present today the Smoking (Prohibition in Enclosed Public Places) Amendment Bill 2004. There is no doubt about the ACT’s leadership and achievements in a number of public areas, including the establishment of smoke-free enclosed public places. This is significant not only because of what we have achieved but also because the impact of those achievements has been far greater than our geography, population and resources would suggest.

It is particularly pleasing for us to see, 10 years after the introduction of the ACT’s landmark legislation, that smoke-free indoor air is becoming the norm in other Australian states and territories, as well as increasingly throughout the world. In recent months the governments of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria have announced new or strengthened smoke-free public places legislation.

With the signing of an historic World Health Organisation framework convention on tobacco control, international action to address both active and passive smoking will continue to strengthen. Government and citizens are realising that it is possible for people to work and to participate in the life of the community without exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. People who smoke, the majority of whom want to stop smoking, are finding that smoke-free environments are helping them to break free and stay free of nicotine dependence.

Not only are major areas of North America, including California, New York and Boston, covered by smoke-free public places legislation, but also the Republic of Ireland has implemented smoke-free legislation which covers all enclosed public places, including pubs. Only a few weeks ago it was announced that the Scottish parliament would be considering government legislation requiring all public indoor areas, including restaurants, pubs and clubs, to be non-smoking.

In his speech before the Scottish parliament, the Scottish First Minister referred to the need to take tough decisions, and also referred to the opportunity to take the most significant step towards improving that country’s public health for a generation. I believe that we are already taking the tough decisions in setting the date for all enclosed public places in the territory to go smoke free.

I also believe that, in terms of being the most significant public health measure for a generation, this is just as true for Australia as it is for Scotland. We can be proud that we

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