Page 230 - Week 01 - Thursday, 9 December 2004

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have a head start. Most of our enclosed public places have been non-smoking for 10 years and we already have in place legislation that will ensure that the remainder are non-smoking by 1 December 2006.

That legislation—the Smoking (Prohibition in Enclosed Public Places) Act 2003—sets the framework for phasing out the exemption system which forms part of the current legislation: the Smoke-free Areas (Enclosed Public Places) Act 1994. The government remains committed to the goal of smoke-free enclosed public places by December 2006. We will continue to work with health groups, the hospitality industry and other interested parties to achieve the smooth implementation of the legislation.

As part of that process, the aim of the Smoking (Prohibition in Enclosed Public Places) Amendment Bill 2004 is to fine-tune the principal act in order to remove potential confusion and loopholes, and to make the act more workable. The amendments provide for the development of a clearer definition of “enclosed” to be contained in a regulation. That will eliminate the ambiguities associated with the notion of a place being “substantially enclosed” and will provide for a much clearer definition.

The new definition will set out the characteristics of an enclosed public place. It is the government’s intention that the tabling of this regulation will occur immediately after the present amendments are debated, hopefully in early 2005.

The amendments also clarify the meaning of “public place” by providing a definition which makes it clear that “public” refers to the section of the public who may be admitted to the premises not only by virtue of payment but also by virtue of membership of a body. That is consistent with the definition in the Smoke-free Areas (Enclosed Public Places) Act 1994, and closes a loophole which would otherwise exist if this intention were not made explicit.

The amended definition includes places to which the public has access by virtue of entitlement or permission, which is a way of ensuring that we include places which are open to or being used by the public at a particular time. The amendments also place an obligation on occupiers, or those in charge of premises, to take reasonable steps to prevent smoke in smoking-permitted areas—such as non-public areas and unenclosed areas—from penetrating non-smoking areas of the premises. That is consistent with an obligation that has been part of our smoke-free public places legislation since 1994, and is a necessary complement to the requirement in the act for occupiers to take reasonable steps to prevent smoke from their premises from penetrating neighbouring premises.

Finally, the amendments propose an object to the act, in the same way that the 1994 act contains an object. The government believes that the overall object for the 2005 act can be stated as: “to promote public health by minimising the exposure of people in enclosed public places to environmental tobacco smoke.”

The amending bill includes two minor changes. The first is a slight change to the meaning of “smoke” to make it clear that the same meaning applies whether “smoke” is used as a noun or as a verb. The second change is a correction to section 8 (1) of the 2003 act where the incorrect section had been originally referenced.

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