Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 27 August 2008) . . Page.. 3836 ..
existing tobacco products can maintain their position in the market while new products cannot compete. If tobacco was sold only by governments, perhaps, so that there was no commercial competition, such a constrained approach would make sense. As it is, however, all the signals are mixed, though everyone is concerned about not sending mixed signals.
I would like to draw the connection between tobacco display and the display of alcohol and other drug-related apparatus. If the plan is to abnormalise tobacco smoking and not entice reformed smokers back to their coffin nails and deal with people who may want to indulge or who are addicts and need to feed their habit, shouldn’t we also put some form of prohibition on the public display in front windows of alcohol on the one hand and illicit drug paraphernalia on the other?
Very many people in our society have some issue with alcohol. The health and social costs of problematic alcohol use are enormous. The ongoing, incessant invitation to drink seen on TV, at the front door of supermarkets—in how many supermarkets do you have to walk through the grog department to get to the milk?—and in the street is enormous. If ever anything was normalised in this society, it is continual alcohol consumption. We have managed to move on the social acceptability of smoking, but we have hardly begun with alcohol. Of course, not all alcohol consumption is harmful, but there are enough reasonable comparisons that can be made between tobacco and alcohol for this particular bill to be looked at closely for what it is doing and the bar it is setting.
It seems, however, that in this case the retail industry is more or less prepared to adjust to these latest limitations—that is what we heard in our briefing—with the adjustments in timing included in the process. In that case, who are we to demur? I will support the bill and the amendment.
MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Minister for Health, Minister for Children and Young People, Minister for Disability and Community Services, Minister for Women) (8.48), in reply: I thank members for their contributions to the bill tonight. To begin with, I think we need to go to a few of the facts that no other members have gone to tonight—that is, every year in Australia 19,019 people die from tobacco-related illnesses, 2,831 die from alcohol-related disease and 863 die from illicit drug use. Those are the figures—19,019 people every single year in this country die because they smoke. If this were in any other area—for example, the road toll, bus crashes or airline crashes—people would be saying there is a serious crisis to which we would need to respond. In this instance, it is a tobacco-related crisis that 19,000 people die every single year from some kind of tobacco-related disease.
This bill is one of a few measures that this government have taken in relation to tobacco control measures. It is not all we would like to do, but it goes some way to addressing some of the issues that we see that we believe encourage the uptake of smoking. It does go to the prohibition of the point-of-sale displays; it does remove the ministerial exemption for smoking and tobacco advertising and sponsorship; it does amend the definition of vending machines to remove seller-controlled units from our pubs and clubs; it does provide power for the minister to declare flavoured cigarettes to be prohibited; and it does prohibit split packets. They are all measures designed to increase the uptake of smokers in our community and all worthy of the attention in this bill to prohibit and ban them.