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Public Health Amendment (HEALTHY TASMANIA) BILL 2017 (No. 35)

[12.59 p.m.]

Ms Armitage (Launceston) - Mr Deputy President, I support the bill. It is a good bill and it goes to an area that is becoming more prevalent now with these electronic cigarettes. I did not realise they were illegal because you see so many of them around. If you are not going to purchase them yourself, you do not know people cannot legally do it. I sought the Australian Medical Association's opinion of the use of e-cigarettes, which I now read into Hansard -

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that are designed to mimic smoking by emitting an aerosol (or vapour) to the user, typically containing propylene glycol or glycerol, with or without nicotine. The inhaled aerosol is often flavoured, raising -

Resumed from above.

[2.40 p.m.]

Ms Armitage (Launceston) - Mr Deputy President, before the lunchbreak I began reading the AMA opinion from 2015 about e-cigarettes –

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that are designed to mimic smoking by emitting an aerosol (or vapour) to the user, typically containing propylene glycol or glycerol, with or without nicotine. The inhaled aerosol is often flavoured, raising concerns about their intended appeal to young people and their potential to act as a gateway to tobacco smoking. There is considerable concern about the role of the tobacco industry who have invested heavily in the development and promotion of E-cigarettes.

Despite the variation in the legal status of E-cigarettes across the Australian jurisdictions, use of E-cigarettes has increased dramatically. Research with Victorian adults in 2013 found 7.3 percent had used an E-cigarette in the past 12 months, compared with 3.6% in 2012, 1.8 percent in 2011 and 0.7 percent in 2011, with use more likely in younger age groups.

Maybe that last figure should have been for 2010; I assume it is a typo. It continues

E-cigarettes are being marketed as smoking cessation aids. The evidence supporting the role of E-cigarettes in cessation is mixed and low level, and E‑cigarettes are not currently recognised as cessation aids by the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Therapeutic Goods Administration or the World Health Organisation. In fact, using an E-cigarette may significantly delay the decision to quit smoking. In addition, there is uncertainty about the longer term health implications of inhaling the vapours produced by the illegally imported (and unregulated) solutions.

There are legitimate concerns that e-cigarettes normalise the act of smoking. This has the potential to undermine the significant efforts that have been dedicated to reducing the appeal of cigarettes to children, young people and the wider population. These concerns are supported by research findings that young people using E-cigarettes progress to tobacco smoking. Currently there is no medical reason to start using an E-cigarette.

I must admit that when I first saw this bill I understood e-cigarettes were used to help people to get off smoking. I had not looked at the other side - that many people could buy them unregulated and on the internet and start smoking them quite legally. It was of interest to me to read a bit more into this bill and discover e-cigarettes actually encouraging some people to smoke rather than the opposite. It is a very interesting bill and I support it.

I have received quite a bit of correspondence that is related more to the member for Windermere's amendment. It is probably more appropriate to go into that correspondence when he moves the amendment. Mr Deputy President, would that be your understanding rather than I comment now? The member for Windermere foreshadowed his proposed amendments to this bill.

Mr DEPUTY PRESIDENT - You could, in a brief manner.

Ms ARMITAGE - My concern with the amendments foreshadowed by the member for Windermere is that a very important issue has been on the Notice Paper for some time. That is the Public Health Amendment (Tobacco-Free Generation) Bill. I am sure the member would agree that it is too important to add in as amendment to another bill. I have spoken to the Australian Medical Association's CEO, Tony Steven, and to its Tasmanian president, Stuart Day. The final paragraph of the letter we received from them stated, 'Therefore, we call on you to support the tobacco-free generation bill.'

They understood we were debating that bill today. I explained to them that we were not debating that bill. Perhaps that bill might come up in the next few weeks, because - I note we had the report back in 2016 - as the member said, there has been a change in this House.

I could not say I would not support the honourable member's bill. I understand how passionate he is about it. As mentioned by the honourable member himself, we could lose the bill before us by putting amendments in it that may not be supported downstairs by the Government.

I have been given authority by both the CEO and the president of the AMA to make a statement. Their comment is that the AMA supports the concept of the Tobacco Free Generation bill, but if it is likely the amendments would not be accepted in the lower House they do not want to risk the e-cigarette bill by having the amendments in this bill.

It is important to note that in their letter to us, they understood we were debating the Tobacco Free Generation bill. They did not realise it might put the e-cigarette bill at risk. They are very happy for that legislation to be raised again, whenever the member may bring it forward. They would certainly forward their letter again. They remain supportive of the concept. There is no issue they do not support it. But they are concerned this bill, which they consider to be very important, could be lost because of that.

I understand where the member is coming from. Like other members, I have had calls. For transparency, I put on record my husband is a publican, but hates selling cigarettes. He says he makes no money out of them, anyway. I have had calls from businesspeople saying, 'We would like the opportunity if that bill is coming up, to come and have our say', because this is such an important issue for a lot of them. There is not much more to say. I support the bill before us. When the amendment comes up, it might be nice if the member were to withdraw that section of the bill. I just have concerns. I would hate to see this bill go down. It would be nice to have the member bring his bill as a proper full bill, to give it the importance it deserves.

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