Page 4275 - Week 13 - Thursday, 17 November 2005
That Subordinate Law SL2005-21, being the Smoking (Prohibition in Enclosed Public Places) Regulation 2005, made pursuant to the Smoking (Prohibition in Enclosed Public Places) Act, be disallowed.
This regulation, the Smoking (Prohibition in Enclosed Public Places) Regulation 2005, is about defining outdoor areas where smoking may be allowed. I acknowledge that Anne Cahill Lambert, an ACT resident, is in the gallery. She is a lung disease sufferer and lifelong non-smoker who shares my concerns and the concerns of very many health professionals regarding this regulation. This regulation has not been drafted on the basis of any healthy evidence and is, in fact, an abrogation of responsibility by the health department and, in terms of worker safety, of the minister responsible for occupational health and safety.
I understand the context in which this regulation has been drafted. I accept that the act under which it is made ensures that people will be free of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke when they are inside a building, although perhaps not if they are near a door or a window close to a permitted smoking place.
Tobacco smoking is a legal addiction. I have no intention here of painting it as an evil, filthy activity that ought to be hidden from all public view. It is one thing to adopt a practice in the knowledge that one may be harming oneself, and quite another to knowingly allow it to be inflicted on others. If people smoking cigarettes want to enjoy their drink or coffee with others doing the same things, I am certainly not on a campaign to stop that. What I am objecting to here on behalf of the Greens is the way it is being done.
The intent of the original act is to eliminate tobacco smoking and, as much as possible, environmental tobacco smoke in enclosed public spaces. The government’s own regulatory impact statement put the economic health benefits of that requirement in the ACT at hundreds of millions of dollars. As its own analysis also says, that evaluation did not factor in the impact of outdoor rooms with bars, stages and, potentially, gaming machines.
The government argues that there is no scientific evidence to specify a safe level of enclosure. In fact, the government’s own regulatory impact statement specifically addressing this situation—the partial enclosure of outdoor smoking places—argued that the relative health benefit of smoking outdoors would only be evident in much less enclosed spaces. There is no shortage of information that environmental tobacco smoke damages your health.
So it is worth looking at the approach taken in other jurisdictions. Queensland has dealt with the issue by requiring any smoking places to be unserviced—in other words, ensure that workers do not have to serve food or drink to people in ETS-thick environments, by separating smoking places from the rest of the facility to allow the environmental tobacco smoke from infiltrating other parts of the establishment and by setting aside special areas of outdoor cafe tables at a distance from non-smokers.
Western Australia and Tasmania have adopted a 50 per cent rule, which will allow environmental tobacco smoke to escape more quickly than from a place enclosed on