Michelle Lensink

Tobacco Products Regulation

This speech is to indicate support for the Tobacco Products Regulation bill.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I rise to indicate opposition support for this bill. It is something of a `no brainer', so it should not take us long to proceed through it. This provision endeavours to close a loophole in an effort to prevent cigarette manufacturers from targeting young people. A lot of the efforts in discouraging smoking have been targeted at young people because we wish to deter them from taking up smoking and having it become an ingrained habit, which is hard to break. It is acknowledged in many areas of public health that the sooner we can prevent people from taking up dangerous habits the better.

The types of cigarette in question specifically target young women because of the way they are marketed. The bill seeks to proscribe, and hence ban, a class of tobacco products on the basis that it is specifically marketed to appeal to young people, young women in particular. This matter first came to the attention of health authorities in 2005. Flavoured cigarettes can be compared to the pre-mix spirits that have become so popular among young people and have been described as a bit of a niche product. The flavours have been outlined by the minister in this council. I am advised that the tar and nicotine content and price point are comparable to other cigarettes on the market and the packaging is often in pastel colours with specific names, which the minister has outlined. I place on record my thanks to the department for its briefing and for bringing along some of the products so that I could see them for myself.

These cigarettes are not widely available as yet in South Australia, but we would like to close the door before they are. I am advised that the product has already been banned in the ACT. Similar products are fairly widely available in the United States and Asia, which have much broader tobacco product markets than has Australia. The department has advised me that the ban is quite specific and will not affect other products that have been available for some time, such as menthol or herbal cigarettes.

On the matter of point of sale, which initially came up in relation to the last set of laws that passed the parliament in 2004, from memory, I note in particular the press release of the then minister for health (Hon. Lea Stevens) on 12 October 2004, in which she said that the government had decided not to proceed with regulating point of sale display of tobacco products in that bill. That was the bill we debated in relation to bans in workplaces, in particular in pubs and clubs. I am told that the national talks at which this issue was to be progressed have not yielded the results that had been hoped. Given that we are coming up to the two-year anniversary, I urge the government to progress that matter as soon as possible.

I make no reflection on this minister, who is always very prompt in providing briefings, but the opposition will seek that the government continue the practice of providing the parliament with a full week prior to progressing any piece of legislation to enable us to make all the appropriate checks with other stakeholders and to consider any legislation in full. I presume that will be an important measure also for the Independent and minor parties. In this case we have not followed a number of conventions, but I signal to the government that it is important, particularly as we get to a heavy session, that we have legislation provided to us well on time so that we can have adequate time to consult. In particular, I thank the AMA, which replied that it had been consulted and was supportive of this measure in general. If we have the appropriate amount of time, we can check with all the different organisations that have an interest in the relevant bill. With those comments, I commend the bill to the council.

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