Page 6100 - Week 14 - Thursday, 9 December 2010

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The ACT has already introduced point of sale display bans for tobacco products to reduce the community’s, and in particular young people’s, exposure to tobacco. This new ban on smoking at under-age functions not only protects children from the dangers of environmental tobacco smoke but also denormalises the act of smoking in these environments. Proper education in the enforcement of such smoke-free policies can discourage young people from using tobacco and foster a culture where non-smoking is the norm.

I am pleased to say that the ACT has the lowest smoking rate of any jurisdiction in Australia. At 18½ per cent, it is well below the national rate of 21 per cent. I think this reflects the ACT’s strong history in the area of tobacco control and minimising public places of tobacco use. The implementation of these smoke-free environments is another vital step towards achieving the ACT government’s goal of improved public health, which will deliver further benefits for businesses and the community through the creation of healthier social environments.

We have to do more work in this area—I think more work around education and making sure that young people are fully aware of the harmful effects of taking up smoking. I note that my 13-year-old told me the other day that smoking is no longer cool at high school. Well, I hope that is the case and I hope it remains the case for her.

MR HARGREAVES: A supplementary question, Mr Speaker?

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mr Hargreaves.

MR HARGREAVES: Noting, also, that Katy’s 13-year-old supported a ban on fireworks, could I ask the minister what other tobacco and smoking reform measures have been implemented by this government in recent years?

MS GALLAGHER: To acknowledge the history of tobacco reform, we need to go back and look at reform in the early days of the Assembly. I should say that credit should go to all Assembly members who have been very proactive in making sure that the ACT has had a very solid track record on tobacco reform. It has not just been one party in the Assembly; we have had unanimous support across party lines.

In 1994, the ACT was the first jurisdiction to enact legislation to prohibit smoking in enclosed public places. In 2000, in-store tobacco advertising was prohibited, with restrictions on the numbers of point-of-sale for tobacco product displays and health warning signage requirements. In 2003, the government supported the passage of the Smoking (Prohibition in Enclosed Public Places) Act 2003, which strengthened the ban on smoking by removing the exemption system from 1 December 2006, making all public places smoke free. In August 2005, the sale of fruit-flavoured cigarettes by tobacco licensees was prohibited, I think by Minister Corbell. On 1 September 2006, vending machines were banned in the ACT. In October 2006, legislation was enacted for compliance testing for sale of tobacco to minors. On 1 December, the enclosed public places legislation commenced, which covered all enclosed public places, including licensed premises.

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