Page 774 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 9 March 2005

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(a) (Prohibition in Enclosed Public Places) Act 2003 takes effect on 1 December 2006;

(b) the Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) on the proposed prohibition identified long-term benefits to the Canberra community of over $241 million;

(c) the RIS concluded that “There is no agreed definition across Australian (and overseas) jurisdictions as to how to differentiate between spaces where environmental tobacco smoke is and is not likely to be a problem.”;

(d) the RIS further identified “There is no definitive scientific study which provides the basis for comparison of (tobacco smoke) exposure of a three-sided room versus a one-sided room, and so on.”;

(e) the ACT Government continues to actively promote tobacco cessation programs and other initiatives including:

(i) the banning of cigarette vending machines;

(ii) $439,000 on a range of tobacco cessation programs over the past two financial years; and

(iii) pursuing a national approach to smoking health warnings in cinema advertising prior to the screening of films; and

(f) the ACT has one of the lowest adult smoking prevalence rates in Australia, at less than 19%. This includes the nation’s lowest smoking prevalence rate for the 30-39 age group (at just under 20%) and for the 50-59 age group (at less than 15%).”.

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (12.24): I support the minister’s amendment. No-one would deny that the subject of this motion is important. However, the motion itself is not worthy of support. It is too easy to lose perspective in terms of where we are and where we are going in relation to smoke-free enclosed public places and it is worth while to take an objective look at the situation.

What we have at present is a situation in which nearly half of all licensed premises in the ACT have an exemption that allows smoking to occur in a significant part of a public area. In practice, this means bars and gaming areas. It means that, despite compliance with exemption criteria, thousands of customers, patrons and hospitality workers are exposed to tobacco smoke, not only in smoking areas but in non-smoking areas as well, as we found out from the ACT Health study of indoor air quality which was tabled in September 2003.

From 1 December 2006, when the exemption system ends, that will no longer occur. It is simply no longer going to be the case that people will have to be exposed to tobacco smoke when they go out to enjoy a meal, a drink or an evening at the club. Under current arrangements there is, in many premises, no real choice of a smoke-free area. With smoking occurring in up to half of the public area of an exempt licensed pub or club, tobacco smoke exposure affects large numbers of patrons and employees. Meeting exemption conditions does not mean that there is protection from tobacco smoke.

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