Page 4280 - Week 13 - Thursday, 17 November 2005

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The regulatory impact statement also highlighted the difficulties of coming up with a magic formula. It found:

There is no definitive scientific study which provides a basis for comparison of exposure of a three-sided room versus a one-sided room, and so on.

The report concluded:

There is no specific medical or scientific guidance as to precisely what threshold of enclosed is problematic.

The report also noted that the definitions adopted in other jurisdictions have been developed “without any clear scientific and medical evidence as to the degree of enclosure that is necessary to reduce tobacco smoke exposure to a reasonable level”.

In this difficult and complex environment the ACT has sought to provide clarity and certainty for all involved. The absence of conclusive scientific evidence means that, if we are to move forward, we must do so with a view to balancing a range of information, interests and priorities. There will always be differing views on how best to achieve this. One thing that we have done in the regulation is to tighten up some aspects of how “enclosed” is defined compared with that which is currently being used under the existing legislation, in effect. The key change, which followed consultation with architects and other building advisers, is in relation to surfaces that partially impede the flow of smoke and air.

The regulation states that permeable materials, such as flyscreen and shade cloth, are considered to have a solid surface and count as contributing to the total degree to which the place is enclosed. This contrasts with the current interpretation of “enclosed”, under which these materials would not count towards the area of the place that is enclosed. Under the regulation, the solid area of structures with larger measurable solid surfaces and openings, such as lattice and railings, will be assessed according to the actual areas that are solid and that which are open. This will result in a much more fair and accurate determination.

Under the regulation, it will be easier to determine what is enclosed because potentially the only places that will be enclosed are those under an overhead cover. If a public area is not under a ceiling, roof, awning, umbrella or other overhead cover, it will not be considered enclosed for the purposes of the regulation. The requirements of the act, however, make it clear that if smoking occurs in these areas proprietors will have to take reasonable steps to prevent smoke from affecting any non-smoking areas that may be adjacent or nearby.

This is another important point that I want to make about this regulation because it has been the subject of some misunderstanding. This legislation is about protecting people from tobacco smoke in enclosed public places. It is not about finding solutions for problem gambling or replacing or superseding occupational heath and safety legislation. It has been claimed that it will be beneficial to require smokers to take a break and move away from the gaming area if they wish to smoke. I do not argue with that, but that is not the purpose of the legislation. For protecting employees from foreseeable risks in the

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