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Smoke Free Environment Amendment Bill 2018

April 10, 2018

 

I am proud to lead for the Labor Party in contributing to debate on the Smoke-free Environment Amendment Bill 2018. As all members know, this is, in every way, a Labor policy. 

 

It was a Labor policy in 2015 when the s hadow Minister for Health, the Hon.Walt Secord, moved to h ave the provisions the House is discussing today incorporated into the Public Health (Tobacco) Amendment (E-cigarettes) Bill 2015.The then Health Minister refused to accept a sensible amendment from the Labor Party. She preferred to retain that loophole i n the regulation and to allow the public to be exposed to vaping in public spaces rather than accept a well- supported proposal from a member of the Labor Party.

 

The same arrogance was on display from this Government when the Shadow Minister Walt Secord introduced the Smoke-free Environment Amendment (E-cigarettes) Bill 2015 in the other place. The same proposals we are considering today formed the basis of that private member 's 2015 bill as well as an identical private member ' s bill introduced in 2017. 

 

That bill — the Smoke -free Environment Amendment (E-cigarettes) Bill 2017 — was voted down in the upper H ouse by the colleagues of those opposite. Only weeks ago, on 8 March 2018 , the Liberals and The Nationals in the upper House, by a vote of 11 to 19, voted down the same provisions they will support today. Their concern was not public safety or the impact of particulate matter and emissions from e-cigarettes. It could only have been politics. That is the only reason they opposed this idea in 2015 and just wee ks ago.

 

Having reviewed the second reading contributions made by members in the other place, it appears they were told that the Government's bill would be a "more comprehensive approach". They appear to have been promised a suite of additional measures in the Government's bill, but all that it has come up with is an extra form for e-cigarette retailers to fill out. 

 

Well done , Minister. After three years , the only window dressing he and his department have found to distinguish today's bill from the Labor Par ty 's bill introduced a few weeks ago is an extra form for business owners to fill out.

 

I have described the contents of today's bill as reflecting the Labor Party 's policy. Therefore, the Opposition's support for these proposals is no surprise. Labor has always led the way on addressing the impact of the tobacco industry on public health. In 1992, it was the Keating Government that delivered the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act , creating the first national prohibition on cigarette advertising. This regul ation was strengthened by the Gillard Government through the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Amendment Act 2010 , which expanded its reach to online advertising and further regulated points of sale and taking cigarettes off display.

 

In New South Wales, the then Carr Government delivered the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2008 , which prohibited tobacco - related promotions, sponsorships, competitions, incentive promotions, loyalty schemes , and free sampling of tobacco. Th at legislation also introduced a limit of one point of sale per retail outlet and authorised licensed premises to have only one point of sale for cigarettes. The New South Wales legislation was the first to acknowledge that images on the package itself constituted advertising. This leading legislation restricted the use of cartoons, sporting images, holograms and other images on cigarette packets that appeal to young people.

 

The Labor Party has also led the way on restricting political donations from cigarette companies. In 2010 , it was the Kene ally Government in this place that added tobacco companies to the list of prohibited donors in New South Wales elections. This step recognised the ongoing impact of this sector on the political process and ranked them alongside property developers and the liquor and gambling industries for their disproportionate impact on the political process.

 

Donations from tobacco companies are still legal at the Federal level , although Federal Labor has taken a position since 2004 of not accepting donations from tobacco companies. Between 2004 when Federal Labor ceased taking these donations and 2017, the Liberal Party has accepted more than $750,000 in donations from Philip Morris L td and more than $900,000 from British American Tobacco Australia Ltd. Over that same period, T he National s have accepted $300,000 in donations from Philip Morris Ltd and more than $850,000 from British American Tobacco Australia Ltd.

 

This included $15,000 from Phi lip Morris Limited in the last financial year. Currently the largest recipient o f tobacco company donations is the Liberal Democratic Party, receiving more than $20,000 from Philip Morris Limited last year . Under former Prime Minister Julia Gillard and former Minister for Health and Ageing Nicola Roxon, the Tobacco Plain Packaging Bill was passed on 12 December 2011—another Labor initiative. Proposals for plain packaging had existed from the late 1980s, but successful lobbying efforts had stalled any serious proposal. Whether it is the direct donations from tobacco companies, or just the noise that vested interests can generate, everyone in this place knows —particularly this Government— that the Government ca n retreat quickly from good policy for the sake of political expediency.

 

Julia Gillard and Nicola Roxon should be remembered for their stance on this issue and given full credit, given that France, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Norway, Ireland, and Hungary have now taken the same stance. These restrictions may soon extend to the entire European Union . The colour chosen for plain packaging was targeted particularly at young people, recognising that the policy was aimed at preventing new people from taking up smoking and changing the social image of smoking. Plain packaging so enraged cigarette companies that they assisted the Ukrainian and Honduras governments to launch a complaint against Australia to the World Trade Organization . It was then Federal Attorney - General Nicola Roxon, who led Australia's response.Whether it be through plain packaging or advertising, or through political donations, Labor has a long and strong history of dealing with cigarettes, and developing good public health law and policy.

 

The legislation we debate today builds on the legacy of these past Labor Governments to confront not just the health impacts of tobacco , but also the role of those who profit from its sale have had on the political process. The b ill we debate today extend s the definition of cigarettes to e-cigarettes , and restricts their use in public spaces and on public transport in the same way that traditional cigarettes are restricted. This legislation will finally bring New South Wales into line with Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory by restricting the smoking of e-cigarettes in the same way as the smoking of other cigarettes is restricted .

 

Users will be restricted from smoking e-cigarettes within 10 metres of children's play equipment, within four metres of an entrance to a public building, as well as at public transport stops or stations , and while riding on public transport. These are sensible restrictions, which is why Labor proposed them in 2015, and again in 2017 when a private m ember's bill was re introduced and only weeks ago when that private member ' s bill was voted down by government members in the other place . These restrictions in no way impact on an individual's ability to use e ‑ cigarettes in their home or any other place where traditional cigarettes are smoked . N ot all in the Government are convinced about the dangers of e-cigarettes. To quote Peter Phelps , MLC , in the other place —

 

Mr Brad Hazzard: The honourable; he is in the upper House.

 

Ms KATE WASHINGTON: Sorry, according to the Hon. Dr Peter Phelps, MLC, the policy included in this legislation is a bad principle and one should question "the honesty and merits of the attitude to health" of anyone who votes for it. The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps' contribution in the other place is in contrast to his colleagues, including the Health minister who sits opposite me now, who outlined in his second reading speech that the head of the National Health and Medical Research Council stated:

 

E-cigarettes expose both users and bystanders to particle pollution that may worsen existing illnesses or increase the risk of developing cardiovascular or respiratory disease. Vulnerable groups such as children, pregnant women, people with cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and older people are more sensitive to the adverse health effects of particulate matter. E-cigarette vapours have been found to contain toxins, metals and chemicals. Some of these substances, like formaldehyde, are already known to cause cancer.

 

This builds on evidence fro m the U nited S tates National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine , which concluded that there is substantial evidence that e-cigarette use by young adults increases their risk of ever using tobacco cigarettes . Alongside the many public health au thorities that are supporting this bill , Labor supports this bill.

 

I commend it to the House. I thank its original author, shadow health Minister Walt Secord, for his commitment to public health and his hard work in this area.

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STANDING UP FOR
PORT STEPHENS

Kate cares about our community and our people. She's working hard to make sure our voices are heard in State Parliament. 

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