Question - Tobacco control laws

Wednesday 22 June 2022, Question without notice


Ms ARMITAGE question to LEADER of the GOVERNMENT in the LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, Mrs HISCUTT


[2.35 p.m.]

(1) In the Healthy Tasmania Five-Year Strategic Plan 2022-26 it stated that the Government will 'strengthen tobacco control laws to reduce the visibility and the availability of smoking products, and regulate new and emerging tobacco industry products.'


Could the Leader please provide further information about what this might entail?


(2) The same five-year plan also states that the Tasmanian Tobacco Control Coalition is developing the next tobacco action plan. Can the Leader please advise:


(a) who are the members of the Tasmanian Tobacco Control Coalition;


(b) what, if any, public business consultation is the Tasmanian Tobacco Control Coalition undertaking as part of the preparation of this plan;


(c) when is the next tobacco action plan likely to be finalised and released to the public?


(3) Tasmania is a jurisdiction which requires community pharmacies to obtain a smoking product licence to stock and dispense nicotine vaping products and charging a fee of $1183.05 per year to dispense nicotine vaping products. Can the Leader please advise whether the Government considers it appropriate that pharmacies seeking to provide smoking cessation aids be obliged, by law, to have the same licence and pay the same fees as tobacconists and retailers that sell cigarettes, and what is the rationale for retaining this requirement?


(4) What steps are being taken by the Government to remove the requirement for a tobacco retail licence in the pharmacy setting?


(5) When can community pharmacies expect to be granted relief from this requirement?


ANSWER


Mr President, I thank the member for her question.


(1) This action aims to normalise smoke-free communities to create supportive environments that support Tasmanians to stay smoke-free and/or to quit smoking so that everyone leads healthier lives. This includes action to create more smoke-free areas and to ensure that Tasmanians are safeguarded from the harms of emerging products, in particular e-cigarettes.


Specifically, the Government is examining opportunities to further resource and support communities where there are ongoing high levels of smoking to implement targeted initiatives; and to educate school staff in brief interventions to support young people to quit.


Further details will be included in the new Tasmanian Tobacco Control Plan 2022‑26.


(2) (a) The Tasmanian Tobacco Control Coalition brings together relevant stakeholders to provide advice to Public Health Services regarding tobacco policy and action. Membership includes stakeholders from all levels of government and non-government organisations across sectors like health, education or community, and universities.


(b) There has been no consultation with business in the development of the tobacco action plan. Australia is a signatory to the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the FCTC. This is an evidence-based international treaty that reaffirms the rights of all people to the highest standards of health. The FCTC sets a clear standard in regard to protecting public health policy and tobacco legislation from the interests of tobacco companies. Article 5.3 states that:


In setting and implementing their public health policies with respect to tobacco control, Parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law.


As such, consultation with the tobacco industry and lobbyists, and other commercial interests, has not formed part of the development of Tasmania's Tobacco Control Plan.


(c) The Tasmanian Tobacco Control Plan: reducing the use of tobacco and related products 2022-2026 will be released shortly. It will be publicly available on the Department of Health website.

(3) Tasmanian pharmacies that dispense nicotine vaping products are required to apply for a smoking product licence under the Public Health Act 1997, and to comply with its tobacco control provisions, including in relation to sales to children, restrictions of display and, advertising, et cetera. This licence costs $594 for e‑cigarettes only.


E-cigarettes can be harmful. Identified health risks of e-cigarettes include: addiction; intentional and unintentional poisoning; acute nicotine toxicity, including seizures; burns and injuries; lung injury; indoor air pollution; environmental waste and fires; dual use with cigarette smoking; and increased smoking uptake in non-smokers.


E‑cigarettes are not proven safe and effective smoking cessation aids. More research is needed to confirm the harms and benefits of using these products for this purpose.


One recent report, released in April 2022, commissioned by the Australian Government through the Australian National University's National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health called Review of Global Evidence on the Health effects of electronic cigarettes found a number of significant findings, including:


· half of all current users are aged under 30;

· the majority of users do not use it for smoking cessation, and 53 per cent are also using combustible tobacco cigarettes (they are dual users);

· non-smokers using e-cigarettes are three times more likely to go on to using combustible tobacco cigarettes; and

· ex-smokers using e‑cigarettes are around twice as likely to relapse to smoking as ex‑smokers not using e-cigarettes.


(4) No steps have been taken to remove requirements for smoking product licences in pharmacy settings.


(5) There are no plans to review the smoking product licence requirements for pharmacists.


Ms ARMITAGE - If I could have a supplementary to (2)(a), the question was, who are the members of the Tasmanian Tobacco Control Coalition? You gave a very generalised answer. Could I have more specifics about who actually are the members of the Tasmanian Tobacco Control Coalition?


Mrs Hiscutt - Are you going to resubmit that, please?


Ms ARMITAGE - I asked it already. Perhaps you could just resubmit it to those who answered the question please, with respect.


Mrs Hiscutt - We will see how we go, with respect.

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