Page 576 - Week 02 - Thursday, 6 March 2008

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The bill will place the territory at the forefront of regulation on point-of-sale displays, with the most restrictive requirements—that is, smoking products must be kept out of sight at point of sale. Part 2 of the Tobacco Act is to be amended to remove the complex display formula to apply a simple rule. If you sell tobacco, it must not be displayed. The display is one of the last remaining ways tobacco companies are able to display their wares. Storing tobacco out of sight will prevent people, in particular children, from being able to see tobacco. Research shows that point-of-sale display acts to promote and normalise smoking. The territory will be the first to send the message that it is not normal. Tasmania will join the ACT in removing point-of-sale displays from February 2011.

This bill strengthens the ban on receiving a reward such as a discount fuel voucher or fly-buy points in return for purchasing cigarettes. The government is concerned that these incentives reward people for purchasing smoking products. These rewards may even be inducing greater consumption because some people may spend more on bulk smoking product purchases in order to reach the threshold for a reward. The bill amends the act to explicitly exclude smoking products from such schemes. It is hoped that this will reduce tobacco consumption rates even more and sends a clear message that tobacco smoking is not to be rewarded.

The bill removes ministerial exemptions inserted into the act in 1990 to exempt certain smoking and tobacco advertising and sponsorship from the ban. The last exemption notified under the act was in August 1995. It is clear that the ACT is able to obtain sponsorship of its major events without the support of tobacco companies, so it is proposed to remove the ability to exempt such advertising and sponsorship in recognition of this. The commonwealth removed its exemption for sponsorship-related advertising for events of international significance in October 2006.

A new provision is to be included in the bill to give a power to the minister to declare certain smoking products to be prohibited. This will allow the government to move quickly to prohibit smoking products once the minister is satisfied that the smoking product or the smoke of the product has a distinctive fruity, sweet or confectionery-like character and that the nature of the product or its packaging may be attractive to children.

The ACT government identified fruit-flavoured cigarettes as a matter of concern in August 2005. Since then a condition has existed on all tobacco licences prohibiting the sale or display of fruit-flavoured cigarettes. The condition was an interim measure whilst consultation was undertaken on the best approach to regulate flavoured cigarettes. As a result, a provision that covers all possible products that may be attractive to children has been included.

The bill also closes a significant loophole that has allowed vending machines, though controlled by bar staff, to continue operating in the territory. As the intention of the vending machine ban that commenced in 2006 was to prevent ready access to smoking products, the definition is to be amended.

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