24 March 2015
of the Legislative Council
HEALTH AMENDMENT (TOBACCO-FREE
BILL 2014 (No. 40)
Mr President, first of all congratulations to the honourable member
for Windermere for his indefatigable drive in this area of health in
Tasmania. It is something he strongly believes in, and I feel
he will receive praise whichever way this debate goes.
is no longer any dispute about the harm caused by smoking tobacco.
We are all familiar with at least some of the horrifying health
statistics: two out of three smokers, about 1.8 million
Australians, will die because of their habit. This is shown in
the first largescale Australian study on the link between smoking
and mortality published last month.
study, published in the international journal BMC
found smoking reduced a smoker's life expectancy by 10 years on
average. The lead author of the study, Professor
Emily Banks, said
smoking was a very powerful addiction, and she hoped the findings
would give people the information they needed to consider whether
they should continue to smoke. The study found that smoking 10
cigarettes a day doubles the risk of death. Smoking 25
cigarettes increases the risk of death by four or five times.
The three main conditions that kill smokers are cardiovascular
disease, cancer and chronic lung disease. People with those
conditions fill many hospital beds in Tasmania and they are one of
the main burdens on our health system. However, there is some
good news. The study found that those who give up smoking
before the age of 45 can mostly avoid the risks associated with
debating this bill, we are not talking about the sometimes incredibly
hard task of giving up, but about not starting in the first place.
There is no doubt that we must reduce smoking in Australia. It
is costing lives and it is costing health funds.
how do you discourage Australians from taking up smoking, by some
standards and views a seemingly senseless habit? Some of you
may remember Bob
Newhart's comedy skit on Sir Walter Raleigh's arrival
back from the Americas with samples of tobacco. It was an
interesting phone conversation that Bob Newhart was having with Wal,
as he called him. I will not go through it all but at Life
Tasmania we used that skit to give an example to kids of the
strangeness of bringing these leaves back from America and what do
you do with them? 'What do you do with them, Wal?' 'You
roll them up in paper.' 'Well, what do you do?' 'You
light the end of it.' 'Then what do you do?' 'Well, you
breathe it in.' 'Oh, is that good for you, Wal?' Anyway,
it was greeted with incredulity at that time by Bob Newhart. If
you go to YouTube, just type in 'Bob Newhart and Sir Walter
Raleigh'. Sir Walter Raleigh probably had no idea how addictive
sucking in that tobacco smoke was, and he could have had no
of how damaging it was to health.
Professor Emily Banks said, and I quoted earlier, smoking is a very
powerful addiction. It is easier not to start the habit than to
give it up later. This bill is designed to discourage young
people from starting. It is well verified that making it harder
to obtain a harmful substance, whether it is tobacco, alcohol,
prescription drugs, or other harmful drugs, reduces consumption.
We have all experienced this. If an outlet is closed you cannot
buy on impulse. This bill is aimed at discouragement, not
prevention. It will not work perfectly in preventing the
generation born after the year 2000 from taking up smoking, but it
will make it harder. It sends a message to the community at
large, and especially those who will be 18 in three years, that
smoking is harmful and they should think twice before risking
as the member for Windermere clearly states, this bill will not
penalise any member of the tobacco-free generation for smoking.
It will not prevent friends and family from giving tobacco products,
such as a few cigarettes, to members of the tobacco-free generation,
but they must not sell tobacco products to them. This bill will
not prevent botting of cigarettes by members of the tobacco-free
generation. They will be able to scrounge or borrow cigarettes,
and will not be penalised. However, it will stop the sale of
tobacco products to anyone born since the year 2000 - the
some are going to start smoking, but I will argue that there will be
far fewer of them. Far fewer of them will die from smoking.
Far fewer of them will occupy hospital beds. Far more of them
will live longer. Far more of them will have more of their
income to spend on non-tobacco products.
you heard from the member for Windermere, we have all been bombarded
with emails and arguments from both sides of the debate. Most
of the correspondence I have received - like the member for
Windermere - is in favour of the tobacco-free generation. I
will quote from a few emails in favour of this bill -
an employee of the Hobart City Council I feel proud that this local
government organisation has been creating smoke-free zones in Hobart,
helping to reduce the cultural acceptability of smoking. The
public support to reduce smoking is very high. The scene is set
for you, as our legislators, to take the next step. As a parent
of two children born either side of 2000, and currently witnessing
the pressure to smoke amongst the peers of my older child, I cannot
think of one negative to taking smoking out of the world of our young
people in the future. Please give careful and serious
consideration to this proposal, and be brave and progressive for our
partial quote from an email -
am excited by the Tobacco Free Generation proposal and the chance for
Tasmania to become world leaders in creating a healthy environment
for our young people. Whilst training to be a doctor I was
struck by the number of people in hospital who were there because of
tobacco - and alcohol-related diseases. I remember thinking, as
we walked around the large Melbourne hospital, this place would be
practically empty if there were no cigarettes or alcohol. As
you may be aware, Tasmanians have higher rates of cigarette smoking
than our city counterparts, so the picture here is even more
shocking. Many of the smoking-related conditions leave people
breathless, sick and suffering for a long time. Chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, asthma, stroke, heart
disease, chronic bronchitis. This costs the person, their
family and the government enormous amounts in quality of life, loss
of productivity, as well as finances.
goes on -
smoking-related conditions that take people's lives quickly and
prematurely - massive heart attack or stroke, lung cancer,
stomach and throat cancer - are no easier for families and cost
society dearly in the loss of the contribution to society and the
workforce. I am impressed by the research that backs up this
proposal, showing that a majority of smokers support the idea of
restricting sales to young people and phasing out the sales of
cigarettes. Most smokers want to quit, but find it difficult
because of the addictive power of cigarettes, and do not want their
children to make the same mistake they did. Other research
shows that the current age cut-off - 18 years - is a powerful
incentive for young people to take up smoking, so that 'feeling
grownup' is associated with starting an addictive habit that affects
every organ system in their body, and affects the health and
wellbeing of people around them. We also know that young people
starting smoking most often access their cigarettes from same-aged
peers. So, as the age for legally purchasing cigarettes slowly
increases, the peer group being able to access them slowly
you imagine if cigarettes were a new product being introduced?
Would you support them being made available on our supermarket
must employ this person as a speech writer sometime, she is very
good, Dr Towle.
amendment is sensible. As we gradually remove the main drivers
for the uptake of smoking, peer pressure and the desire to appear
'adult', we will slow the rate of young people finding themselves
addicted and unable to quit. I have a son who is four years
old. As I look at my friends with teenage children, I think it
would be fantastic to have one less thing to worry about when he is
nearing 18. Please show the people of Tasmania that you care
more about the health of our children than the profits of the tobacco
you remain uncertain about supporting this amendment, I will be happy
to provide references and further information to assist with your
is a rather long quote, but for many people it would have
encapsulated the arguments for the bill we are debating.
Tobacco Free Generation initiative has received the support of the
Conference on Tobacco or Health.
The conference in Abu
a few days ago, as we heard from the member for Windermere, made the
following statement which I would like to quote in part:
16th World Conference on Tobacco or Health recognises that all
tobacco products are harmful, that they are a leading cause of
disease and death worldwide, that they pose an especially heavy
burden on low- and middleincome countries, and should be
de-normalised worldwide. Addressing the tobacco epidemic must
be an essential priority in the context of reducing the burden of
non-communicable diseases and protection of youth.
conference calls for collaboration and coordination at the local,
national, regional and global levels, to fully implement the FCTC and
to move tobacco control forward. The conference calls on the
global tobacco community to redouble its efforts and to reach out to
additional stakeholders, and calls on governments to be held to their
commitment at the World Health Assembly in 2013 and the sixth session
of the FCTC Conference of the Parties in 2014, to reduce tobacco use
prevalence by 30 per cent by 2025 through accelerated implementation
of the FCTC.
conference commends jurisdictions, including the Australian state of
Tasmania, that are advancing initiatives to create tobacco-free
generations for all persons born since the year 2000.
President, let me go to the other side of the argument. Some
critics of this bill say it will be ineffective because young people
born after 2000 will be able to circumvent the ban on retailers
selling tobacco to them. Yes, they will, but the ban will still
discourage them from taking up smoking. Some say making
something hard to obtain merely increases its attraction.
Sometimes it does, but perhaps this proposed legislation should be
given a chance, then we will see.
major criticisms, of course, come from the tobacco industry and the
retailers who make a living selling tobacco. Some licensed
tobacco sellers say they will go under if the bill becomes law.
It could be argued that this bill will not affect tobacco sales at
all until 2018, and then not by much. It will have an
increasing effect on sales as those 18-year-olds in 2018 grow older
and they are joined by more who are born after 2018. It is
unlikely to have a massive effect until at least another few decades,
giving tobacco retailers plenty of time to put other eggs in their
evidence to members, Imperial
Tobacco's head of Corporate and Legal Affairs, Andrew Gregson,
said the bill would result in people buying tobacco online or on the
black markets. The tobacco industry used similar arguments
against Australia's plain packaging laws, saying they would increase
the black market. The
which is an online news service quoting papers by academics, seems to
have debunked the black market argument. One paper argues that
plain packaging had no adverse effect on small retailers.
Representatives of Imperial Tobacco who briefed us recently were at
pains to voice their support for regulations on tobacco sales, as
long as they were practical, sensible and rational regulations.
I would just like to quote Mr Andrew Gregson -
support sensible, practical and rational regulations. It may
sound a strange situation, but tobacco companies and particularly
Imperial have supported a number of regulatory measures in respect of
tobacco. In certain instances we go beyond what is required by
local or domestic regulation.
general, if a regulation is sensible, rational and practical, we will
support it. In our submission, the proposal that is before you
at the moment does not fit any of those criteria.
member for Windermere, of course, disputes this.
we have to decide during this debate is will this bill, if it becomes
law, lower tobacco consumption by Tasmanians born after 2000 and will
it ultimately prevent them developing tobaccorelated diseases?
It could be argued that even if it prevents only part of the
post-2000 generation from becoming habitual smokers, it is worthy of
support. Against that, we must weigh the possible economic
cost, if retailers' livelihoods are affected.
must always be conscious that unenforceable laws affect the public's
perception of all laws. Are the provisions of this bill, as far
as they go, enforceable? As far as preventing retailers selling
tobacco products to the post-2000 generation, they are just as
enforceable as the present restriction on selling to those under 18.
bill does not go further than restrictions on retailers, nor does the
longstanding ban on retailers selling tobacco to under 18-year-olds.
It has long been the case that under 18s can source their tobacco in
other ways. But certainly the ban on sales to under 18s has
lessened their smoking. There is no reason to doubt that this
bill will lessen smoking by those born after the year 2000.
was the question in my mind of discrimination. We had the
example of a 32-yearold standing at the counter and a 31-yearold
standing at the counter, with the 32-yearold able to purchase
tobacco and the other one not.
had evidence from the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, Robin Banks,
that this bill, if passed, would not give rise to the possibility of
successful complaints of unlawful age discrimination because of the
effect of exemptions found in section 24 of the Tasmanian
Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 and section 39 of the Commonwealth Age
Discrimination Act 2004.
far as my decision on this bill is concerned, as I said to Daniel
McCulloch of the Examiner
in a phone call yesterday, it is a real conundrum. There are
two sides to this story and one could go either way.
want to listen to what other members have to say. I have made
an argument for one side but I want to hear what others have to say
to see where my support goes.