Establishment of Select Committee - Tobacco 21
Public Health Amendment (Prevention of Sale of Smoking Products to Under-Age Persons) Bill 2018
Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, I will make a short contribution but I will confine my comments to the motion before us.
The member for Windermere is passionate about this matter. It is commendable. No-one can doubt his belief or his dedication and the amount of work he has undertaken. That does not mean I will support his motion unless I believe an inquiry is the best course of action.
I have considered the member's motion, and I agree with him that it is the right of every honourable member to seek an inquiry. If I were moving a private member's bill, I would expect to provide evidence to convince honourable members to support me. I would not expect it to be supported simply because I put it up.
We all recognise the health impacts of smoking. In an ideal world, tobacco would be an illegal substance; however, we know prohibition never works. At the very least cigarettes could be without the addictive additives.
I have reluctantly agreed to be part of the committee should it get up, but I have already advised the member I am unlikely to support this inquiry. I appreciate the comments by the member for Rumney and also the member for Murchison regarding the work and the research of the Menzies Institute for Medical Research. I believe this is the correct course of action for this time.
We have had numerous briefings both now and when the member brought up the Public Health Amendment (Tobacco-Free Generation) Bill 2014. I note the report from that inquiry of 6 July 2016. I quote the findings, which could just as well suit this inquiry if it were to get up -
1. There does not appear to be any significant legal impediment to the operation of the Bill in delivering the policy intent.
2. The Parliament should take a measured and cautious approach in considering a Bill which could limit or 'extinguish' fundamental rights relating to age, equality and liberty.
3. The Bill raises some practical legal issues in relation to online sales and the impact of the Bill on tourism/tourists. The proposer of the Bill may wish to give consideration to amendment of the Bill to avoid negative impacts on tourism.
4. Should the Bill be supported, appropriate education programs would be required to effectively implement the Bill. This would incur a cost and would be a matter for the Government of the day.
As I stated, those key findings probably could just as easily refer to the inquiry that is now proposed.
I hate smoking as much as anyone else. I can remember going into hotels, clubs or pubs and going home with hair and clothes smelling of smoke. We have come a long way, which is a really good thing. It would be great if no-one smoked. I agree with the member that there must be more education to discourage our young people from smoking. Unfortunately, many people start smoking while at school or at 16, or in many instances below. We appreciate that many of them are addicted. As I pointed out I do not intend to debate the merits or otherwise of the bill, as we are simply debating the motion for an inquiry. I point out at this time I have not been influenced by anyone on how to vote either way and I certainly have not been threatened or intimidated.
I have listened carefully to the member and will listen to other members, but I cannot support this motion for an inquiry because I have not been convinced a Legislative Council select inquiry is the correct course of action at this time.
The Council divided -
Mr Valentine (Teller)
Ms Webb (Teller)